Non-Resident Fathers' Involvement in Child Rearing: Role of Policies and Resources

Thursday, 14 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Ausra MASLAUSKAITE, Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania
The aim of the paper is to analyze how the involvement of non-resident fathers in childrearing after union dissolution is structured by the social, legal policies and socio-economic resources of fathers in Lithuania. The paper is based on the “Fathering after divorce in Lithuania” survey data (N=1500) conducted in 2015.

A lot of studies prove that frequency and quality of personal contact with father is beneficial to the child’s well-being in the post-divorce families (Amato, Gilbreth 1999) and economic support provided by fathers improves the overall living conditions of children (Amato, 2005). Nevertheless, a great deal of research proves that many non-resident fathers have low levels of personal contacts and provide little or no economic support for their children although the most recent studies demonstrate the cohort change in the non-resident fathers’ involvement behaviour and show the increase in the contact frequency (Kelly 2007; Amato, Meyers, Emery 2009) and child support (Grall 2006).

Even though the research on the non-resident fathers’ involvement in childrearing is well examined in the USA and some European countries, the research evidence is very scarce for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Lithuania represents one of them and is among the countries of the region with very high divorce rates. As in many countries, the majority of children after divorce live with mothers, meanwhile the shared custody is still rather the exceptional praxis in Lithuania. Although the child maintenance legislation went through several significant developments after 1990, with the redefinition of the forms and minimum amount of child maintenance (Sagatys, 2011), some advancement in the child support enforcement system (the establishment of the Children’s Maintenance Fund), high unemployment, poor employment, large grey economy, and very intense outmigration are significant constrains for the implementation of adequate child support in the post-divorce families.