'Daddy doesn't live here any more'

Judy Dunn kicks off the Society’s ‘Year of Relationships’ with a look at children’s relationships with their non-resident fathers.
WHEN parents separate, most children end up living with their mothers. With the rapid rise in parental separation and divorce over the last two decades, this means that increasing numbers of children have fathers who live away – over 20 per cent of all dependent children in the UK, it has recently been estimated (National Statistics, 2003). How significant for children’s outcome and well-being is the frequency of contact and the quality of the relationship between children and their fathers who live ‘in the other house’? It is a question with major implications for policy makers, lawyers and practitioners (see the recent government consultation paper Parental Separation: Children’s Needs and Parents’ Responsibilities, available from tinyurl.com/5wnqc) – one that is currently hotly debated, with fathers’ rights groups arguing with increasing militancy for more contact and custody.

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