A Longitudinal Study of Noncustodial Parents: Parents Without Children

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Journal of Family Psychology


This article reports the results of a 3-wave longitudinal study of a sizable, regionally representative sample of both noncustodial and custodial parents interviewed initially before their divorce was final. A model was tested that predicted the noncustodial parent's postdivorce contact with the child and the payment of child support from a series of factors related to a social exchange orientation. This orientation highlights the noncustodial parent's implicit calculation of the rewards vs. the costs of continuing involvement and support of the child. It was found that noninvolvement was, in general, well-predicted, both cross-sectionally and longitudinally, by the model. The most powerful factor in the model was the noncustodial parent's perception that he or she had some control over the child's unbringing. Among fully employed noncustodial parents who reported high perceived control, there was an excellent record of involvement and child support payment.

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