Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Joint custody of children, Parenting-Study and teaching, Single parents, Unmarried mothers-Services for, Unmarried fathers-Services for, Never married parents, Co-parenting, Parenting education program, Hampshire County Bar Assoc. (Mass.)


The National Center for Health Statistics has estimated that in 2010, 40.8 percent of births will be to never-married parents (Child Trends Data Bank, 2012). A never married parent who files a complaint at the Probate and Family Court in Hampshire County, Massachusetts seeking to establish paternity, custody, visitation or financial support is mandated to attend the For The Children© (FTC©) parent education program. This qualitative, exploratory, retrospective study, done in collaboration with the Hampshire County Bar Association, explored whether the unique needs of never-married couples with children engaged in family related litigation are met in the curriculum of the current parenting education program (For the Children) and whether additional skills or information would be helpful. Given the lack of research regarding never-married parents attending parent education programs, a phenomenological approach was used. Five never-married parents who attended the FTC© parenting program participated in recorded telephone interviews. Subjective responses were elicited regarding participants feelings and experiences about the following: a) relationship with their co-parent, b) the workability of the parenting plan, c) conflict in their co-parenting relationship, d) their relationship with their child, e) the effects of the court process and f) the effects of the FTC© parenting program. A thematic analysis of participant responses showed that the majority of subjects agreed that the FTC© Parenting Program generally met their unique needs. The results of this small study and the increasing numbers of never-married couples having children suggest that future research is required and supportive policy is necessary.




iii, 76 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 61-64)

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