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Maintaining paternal commitment after marital breakdown: perspectives of fathers living in a context of poverty

Francine L. Allard, Amélie Bourret, Gilles Tremblay, Marc Bergeron, Isabelle Roy

Separation from bed and board, and poverty constitute a dual threat to the maintenance of paternal commitment. Taking as a starting point the views of separated fathers living below the poverty line and who feel committed to their children, this study attempts to understand how fathers maintain this commitment to their child in the face of adversity. The participants describe various strategies that allow them to maintain their paternal role in a context where they have to deal with a combination of constraints and pressures resulting partly from the break-up, partly from poverty. This analysis brings out elements that appear to have encouraged them to pursue their paternal commitment. A greater understanding of what is at stake in such situations should help those involved to better reflect and act in such a way as to diminish the twin impoverishments that afflict their children: economic disadvantage and loss of a father, both of which are too often the consequences of marital breakdown.