Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Joint custody of children-Psychological aspects, Father and child, Divorced fathers-Psychology, Divorce-Psychological aspects, Social work with men, Joint physical custody, Father/child relationships, Single fathers


This study was conducted to better understand how, following divorce, fathers and the father/child relationship are affected by joint physical custody (JPC). Specifically, how does the post-divorce family system, altered and defined by JPC, influence the father's adjustment to the divorce and his subsequent relationship to his children? While there has been considerable research focusing on noncustodial fathers and those with joint legal custody, few studies have qualitatively examined the impact of JPC on men and the father/child relationship. The study used a semi-structured, one-hour interview to capture the subjects' specific language through an interactive method. Eleven men were interviewed about their custodial arrangement, their views of gender issues, and their relationships with their child and ex-spouse. These fathers all had JPC of at least one minor child who spent at least two nights a week on average in both the father's and mother's homes. The major findings indicate that the men's past and current relationship with their ex-spouse significantly affected them and their relationships with their children. Specifically, the men were at various stages of transitioning from a triadic relationship (i.e. one that includes the mother) to a dyadic relationship with their child. Similarly, as pioneers of JPC, these men were also likely transitioning between traditional and nontraditional gender views. The study concludes with a discussion of the implications for the legal system and for social work practice.




iv, 85 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 76-79)