• Estelle De Wit Department of Psychology, University of the Free State
  • Dap Louw Department of Psychology, University of the Free State
  • Anet Louw Department of Psychology, University of the Free State



This study examined the patterns of contact and involvement between adolescents and their non-resident fathers after divorce. The data were analysed to determine the role of Lamb, Pleck and Levine’s (1986) three constructs in the involvement of non-resident fathers, i.e. interaction, availability and responsibility. The results indicated that the majority of male and female adolescents reported continued direct and indirect contact with their fathers, regardless of paternal remarriage and the lapse of time since the divorce. Boys reported higher levels of communication and feelings of emotional closeness than girls. Overall, the study postulates that non-resident fathers play a less significant role in providing parental guidance to their children.


Download data is not yet available.


AMATO, P.R., BOOTH, A., JOHNSON, D.R. & ROGERS, S.J. 2006. Alone together: how marriage in America is changing. Cambridge, UK: Harvard University Press.

AMATO, P.R. & GILBRETH, J.G. 1999. Non-resident fathers and children’s well-being: a meta-analysis. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 61:557-574.

AMATO, P.R., MEYERS, C.E. & EMERY, R.E. 2009. Changes in non-resident father-child contact from 1976 to 2002. Family Relations, 58(2):41-53.

AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION. 2012. Divorce and remarriage. American Psychologist, 88:761-770.

BAILEY, S.J. 2003. Challenges and strengths in non-residential parenting following divorce. Marriage and Family Review, 35(1):29-44.

CAMPBELL, A. 2008. The right to be heard: Australian children’s views about their involvement in decision-making following parental separation. Child Care in Practice, 14(3):237-255.

CARLSON, M.K., MCLANAHAN, S.S. & BROOKS-GUNN, J. 2008. Co-parenting and non-resident fathers’ involvement with young children after a non-marital birth. Demography, 45:461-488.

CASHMORE, J., PARKINSON, P. & TAYLOR, A. 2008. Overnight Stays and Children's Relationships with Resident and Nonresident Parents after Divorce. Journal of Family Issues, 29(6):707-733.

CASTILLO, J.T. 2010. The relationship between non-resident fathers’ social networks and social capital and the establishment of paternity. Child Adolescence Social Work Journal, 27:193-211.

CASTILLO, J.T., WELCH, G. & SARVER, C. 2010. Fathering: The relationship between fathers’ residence, fathers’ socio-demographic characteristics, and father involvement. Journal of Maternal Child Health, 15:1342-1349.

CHEADLE, J.E., AMATO, P.R. & KING, V. 2010. Patterns of nonresident father contact. Demography, 47(1):205-225.

CHILDREN’S ACT 38 OF 2005. 2006. Government Gazette, Vol. 492, No. 28944.

CLARKE-STEWARD, A. & BRENTANO, C. 2006. Divorce: causes and consequences. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

DE GRAAF, P.M. & FOKKEMA, T. 2007. Contacts between divorced and non-divorced parents and their adult children in the Netherlands: an investment perspective. European Sociological Review, 23(2):263-277.

DE LOS REYES, A. & KAZDIN, A.E. 2005. Informant discrepancies in the assessment of childhood psychopathology: A critical review, theoretical framework, and recommendations for future study. Psychological Bulletin, 13(4):483-509.

DUNN, J. 2004. Annotation: Children’s relationships with their non-resident fathers. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(4):659-671.

DUNN, J., CHENG, H., O’CONNOR, T.G. & BRIDGES, L. 2004. Children’s perspectives on their relationships with their non-resident fathers: influences, outcomes and implications. Association for Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(3):553-556.

DYER, K., JINI, L.R., MUPEDZISWA, R. & DAY, R. 2011. Father involvement in Botswana: How adolescents perceive father presence and support. The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 92(4):426-431.

EMERY, R.E. 1994. Renegotiating family relationships. Divorce, child custody, and mediation. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

FABRICIUS, W.V. & BRAVER, S.L. 2003. Non-child support expenditures on children by non-residential divorced fathers: Results of a study. Family Court Review, 41:350-362.

FINLEY, G.E. 2006. The myth of the good divorce. Contemporary Psychology, 51:32-43.

FLOURI, E. 2006. Non-resident fathers’ relationships with their secondary school age children: Determinants and children’s mental health outcomes. Journal of Adolescence, 29:525-538.

FLOURI, E. 2007. Fathering and adolescents’ psychological adjustment: The role of fathers’ involvement, residence and biology status. Child: Care, Health and Development, 34(2):152-161.

GONCY, E.A. & VAN DULMEN, M.H.M. 2010. Fathers do make a difference: parental involvement and adolescent alcohol use. Fathering, 8(1):93-108.

HAWKINS, A.J., BRADFORD, K.P., PALKOVITZ, R., CHRISTIANSEN, S.L., DAY, R.D. & CALL, V.R.A. 2002. The inventory of father involvement: a pilot study of a new measure of father involvement. The Journal of Men’s Studies, 10(2):183-196.

HAWKINS, D.H., AMATO, P.R. & KING, V. 2007. Non-resident father involvement and adolescent well-being: Father effects of child effects? American Sociological Review, 72:990-1010.

HAWTHORNE, B. & LENNINGS, C.J. 2008. The marginalization of non-resident fathers: Their postdivorce roles. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 49(3):191-208.

HETHERINGTON, E.M. & KELLY, J. 2002. For better or for worse: Divorce reconsidered. New York, NY: Norton.

HOFFERTH, S.L. 2006. Residential father family type and child well-being: Investment versus selection. Demography, 43:53-77.

HOFFERTH, S.L., FORRY, N.D. & PETERS, H.E. 2010. Child support, father-child contact and preteens involvement with nonresidential fathers: Racial/ethnic difference. Journal of Family Economic Issues, 31:14-32.

HOLMES, E.K. & HUSTON, A.C. 2010. Understanding positive father-child interaction: Children’s, father’s and mother’s contributions. Fathering, 8(2):203-225.

JENKINS, J. 2006. Non-resident fatherhood: Juggling time. Paper presented at the Australian Political Studies Association Conference, University of Newcastle. 21 September 2006.

JENKINS, J. & LYONS, K. 2006. Non-resident fathers’ leisure with their children. Leisure Studies, 25(2):219-232.

JUBY, H., BILLETTE, B., LAPLANCE, B. & LE BOURDAIS, C. 2007. Non-resident fathers and children: Parents’ new unions and frequency of contact. Journal of Family Issues, 28:1220-1245.

KALTENBORN, K. 2004. Parent-child contact after divorce: The need to consider the child’s perspective. Marriage and Family Review, 36(1-2):67-90.

KANE, J.B., NEPOMNYASCHY, L., GARFINKEL, I. & EDIN, K. 2011. In-kind support from non-resident fathers: A population level analysis. Family Process, 57:33-64.

KELLY, J.B. 2007. Children’s living arrangement following separation and divorce: insights from empirical and clinical research. Family Process, 46(1):35-64.

KING, V., HARRIS, K.M. & HEARD, H.E. 2004. Racial and ethnic diversity in non-resident father involvement. Journal of Marriage and Family, 66:1-21.

KING, V. & SOBOLEWSKI, J.M. 2006. Nonresident fathers’ contributions to adolescent well-being. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68:537-557.

KRUK, E. 2010. Parental and social institutional responsibilities to children’s needs in the divorce transition: Fathers’ perspectives. The Journal of Men’s Studies, 18(2):159-178.

LAMB, M.E., PLECK, J. & LEVINE, J. 1986. The role of the father in child development: the effects of increased paternal involvement. In: LAHEY, B.B. & KAZDIN A.D. (eds). Advances in clinical child psychology. New York, NY: Plenum, 229-266.

LOUW, A. 2010. The constitutionality of a biological father’s recognition as a parent. Psychological Electronic Resources, 13(3):156-206.

MANNING, W., STEWART, S.D. & SMOCK, P.J. 2003. The complexity of fathers’ parenting responsibilities and involvement with non-resident children. Journal of Family Issues, 24(5):645-667.

MASON, H.M. 2011. Nonresident fathers parenting and child and adolescent outcomes. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University. (Doctoral Dissertation)

MNOOKIN, R.H. & MACCOBY, E.E. 2002. Facing the dilemmas of child custody. Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, 10:54-88.

NEPOMNYASCHY, L. 2007. Child support and father-child contact: Testing reciprocal pathways. Demography, 44(1):93-112.

NORD, C. & ZILL, N. 1996. Non-custodial parents’ participation in their children’s lives: Evidence from the survey of income and program participation. Westat: Rockville, MD.

PALKOVITZ, R. & PALM, G. 2009. Transitions within fathering. Fathering, 7(1):3-22.

PARKE, R.D. 2000. Father involvement: a developmental psychological perspective. Marriage and Family Review, 29(2):43-58.

PHARES, V., FIELDS, S. & KAMBOUKOS, D. 2009. Fathers’ and mothers’ involvement with their adolescents. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 181-189.

PLECK, J.H. 2007. Why could father involvement benefit children? Theoretical perspectives. Applied Development Science, 11(4):196-202.

PLECK, J.H. & MASCIADRELLI, B.P. 2004. Paternal involvement by U.S. residential fathers: Levels, sources, and consequences. In: LAMB, M.E. (ed). The role of the father in child development (4th ed). New York, NY: Wiley, 222-271.

SARKADI, A., KRISTIANSSON, R., OBERKLAID, F. & BREMBERG, S. 2008. Fathers’ involvement and children’s developmental outcomes: a systematic review of longitudinal studies. Acta Peadiatrica, 97:153-158.

SCOTT, M.E., BOOTH, A., KING, V. & JOHNSON, D.R. 2007. Post-divorce father-adolescent closeness. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69:1194-1209.

SELTZER, J.A. 2000. Relationships between fathers and children who live apart: the father’s role after separation. Journal of Marriage and Family, 53:79-101.

SINCLAIR, R. 2004. Participation in practice: Making it meaningful, effective and sustainable. Children and Society, 18:106-118.

SMYTH, B. 2005. Time to rethink time? The experience of time with children after divorce. Family Matters, 71:4-10.

SMYTH, B., CARUANA, C. & FERRO, A. 2004. Father-child contact after separation: Profiling five different patterns of care. Family Matters, 67:20-27.

SOBOLEWSKI, J.M. & KING, V. 2005. The importance of the co-parental relationship for non-resident fathers’ ties to children. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67:1196-1212.

STAFFORD, A., LATBOURN, A., HILL, M. & WALKER, M. 2003. Having a say: Children and young people talk about consultation. Children and Society, 17(5):361-373.

STAMPS MITCHELL, K., BOOTH, A. & KING, V. 2009. Adolescents with non-resident fathers: Are daughters more disadvantaged than sons? Journal of Marriage and Family, 71:650-662.

STATISTICS SOUTH AFRICA. 2010. Marriages and divorces: statistical release. Pretoria.

STEWART, S.D. 2003. Nonresident parenting and adolescent adjustment: the quality of the nonresident father-child interaction. Journal of Family Issues, 24(2):217-244.

THOMAS, P.A., KRAMPE, E.M. & NEWTON, R.R. 2008. Father presence, family structure, and feelings of closeness to the father among adult African American children. Journal of Black Studies, 38(4):529-546.

VIDEON, T.M. 2005. Parent-child relations and children’s psychological well-being. Journal of Family Issues, 26(1):55-78.

WILSON, G.B. 2006. The non-resident parental role for separated fathers: A review. International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, 20:286-293.

YOUNISS, J. & SMOLLAR, J. 1985. Adolescent relations with mothers, fathers and friends. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.




How to Cite

De Wit, E., Louw, D., & Louw, A. (2014). PATTERNS OF CONTACT AND INVOLVEMENT BETWEEN ADOLESCENTS AND THEIR NON-RESIDENT FATHERS. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, 50(1), 116–133.