Nonresident Father Involvement and Maternal and Child Well-Being: The Role of Extended Visitation

Susan D. Stewart, Iowa State University

Although nonresident fathers are becoming more involved in their children’s lives, studies have not examined the effect of extended visitation on maternal and child well-being. Extended visitation in this study is defined as relatively long periods of visitation with the nonresident father and includes (a) visits lasting more than one week to several weeks/months, (b) shared custody, and/or (c) visitation that falls outside standard measures of contact (weekly, monthly, and yearly). Based on the 1997 National Survey of America’s Families, results indicated that in contrast to standard visitation which had no effect, extended visitation was associated with higher mental health scores and lower parental aggravation among resident mothers. The effect of extended visitation on children was mixed, with only marginally significant effects that were not always in the expected direction. Future studies should provide more comprehensive measures of visitation and should incorporate resident mothers into the analysis.

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Presented in Session 145: Families and Well-Being