Phasing Out Fathers: Does Nonresidential Father Involvement Decline More when Mothers Have a New Partner?
Karen B. Guzzo, Lehigh University
Although research has focused on the role of father’s new relationships in the decline of paternal involvement over time, research has not yet investigated whether mother’s new relationships play a role. When children have social fathers, biological fathers may experience role confusion and withdraw or be excluded from their child’s life. Using the Fragile Families data, this research tracks father involvement among those who were not romantically involved with the mother at the first and second follow-up. Descriptive statistics suggest that the decline in paternal involvement is greatest when the mother formed a new relationship between follow-ups. Multivariate analyses of absolute levels of visitation and engagement suggest that paternal involvement is reduced when mothers (and fathers) have a new partner. When mothers formed a new relationship between follow-ups, fathers are more likely to have seen their child at the first follow-up but not at the second follow-up.