Reports 2015/02

Which non-resident fathers have little or no contact with their children

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This report presents some results on fathers not living with their children’s mother: how many and which fathers have no or little contact with their children? In addition the report presents an overview of how many fathers have much contact.

The analyses are based on the survey Contact arrangements and residential arrangements 2012 of how parents not living together have organized the lives of their children, and how much time the non-resident parent spends with the child on a monthly basis and in vacations. The survey was conducted by Statistics Norway. Both the non-resident and the resident parent were interviewed. The parents were defined as resident and non-resident according to the child’s registered address.

According to the non-resident fathers two per cent had never seen their children or not seen the child since the parents broke up. 12 per cent did not spend time with the child on a monthly basis, but many of these fathers did have frequent non-physical contact with their children (e.g. telephone or social media). Only three per cent of non-resident fathers had neither had regular monthly contact nor other forms of contact last month. Among fathers living far away from their children, 29 per cent reported having had contact in vacations but no monthly contact.

More resident mothers than non-resident fathers answered that the father did not spend much time with the child. According to the mothers, 21 per cent of the fathers did not spend any time with the child on a monthly basis. The mothers also reported a higher percentage of fathers spending no or only a little time with the children in vacations, than the fathers themselves did report.

No physical monthly contact between non-resident fathers and their children and no contact in vacations the preceding year was most likely when the father lived far away from the child, when there was a high degree of conflict between the parents and when they had never lived together. For parents who had lived together and still lived close to each other, no monthly contact and no contact in vacations was more likely among parents with elementary education, bad health, as well as high degree of conflict than among parents with higher education, good health and no conflict. Also, no monthly contact and no contact in vacations was more likely when the mother had been the primary caretaker than among parents where the mother had not been the primary caretaker when they lived together.

Further, analyses based on the resident mothers’ answers confirmed that parents with one common child, as well as those with shorter duration unions and a high level of post union dissolution conflict were most likely to report that the fathers had not spent any vacations with the child during last year and that was no physical monthly contact. No holiday and no physical monthly contact between fathers and children was also more likely when children were in their late teens and when the mother used to be the primary caretaker when the parents lived together than among those with small children and where the mother had not been the primary caretaker.

Results further confirmed that there were more non-resident fathers who spent much time with their children than there were fathers who spent no or little time with them. According to the non-resident fathers themselves, about half of them spent at least ten days per month with their children. According to the resident mothers, on the other hand, only one in three fathers spent at least ten days per month with their child.

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