Child Access in Canada: Legal Approaches and Program Supports

APPENDIX 1: Major Studies: Access Denial and Failure to Exercise Access

Access Denial

Study Finding

Kruk (1993)

70 percent of a sample of 80 con-custodial fathers believe their wives actively discouraged contact by denying access or otherwise interfering with access.

Arditti (1992)

Half of the non-custodial fathers studied reported that their ex-spouses "interfered" with visits.

Perry, Bolitho, Isenegger & Paetsch (1992)

(cited in McCall 1995)

70 percent of custodial and 64 percent of access parents said access was rarely denied.

Some 37 percent of the access parents wanted more access and 55 percent of the custodial parents reported wanting their ex-spouses to exercise more access.

Braver, Wolchik, Sandler, Fogas & Zvetina (1991)

(cited in Kelly 1993)

Interviews with 40 pairs of separated spouses found 20 to 40 percent of custodial mothers "interfered with" fathers' visits.

Wallerstein & Kelly (1980)

A longitudinal study of 130 California children in post-separation or divorce households found 20 percent of the custodial mothers denied access regularly to the access fathers.  30 percent of the couples in an ongoing longitudinal California study experienced conflict for three to five years after divorce

Funder (1996)

An ongoing longitudinal study found 30 percent of couples experienced high conflict at divorce, with only 10 percent of couples still in conflict three years later.

Kelly (1990)

(cited in Kelly 1993)

40 percent of couples reported high or moderate conflict over visitation and/or co-parenting during the first six months after divorce.  Two years later 20 percent reported frequent arguments.

Maccoby, Depner & Mnookin (1990)

(cited in Kelly 1993)

30 percent of separating and divorcing couples reported substantial or intense legal conflict when resolving custody and access issues.  In the second year of divorce, one third of the couples were still in conflict.

Failure to Exercise Access

Study Finding

Department of Justice Canada (1999)

Analysis of National Longitudinal Study of Children and Youth found that 31 percent of non-residential fathers saw their children at least once a week or biweekly, another 32 percent saw them monthly and/or on holidays or irregularly, and 24 percent never visited.

Non-custodial mothers maintained much higher contact rates:  almost 86 percent of non-custodial mothers were visiting regularly at separation, compared to 47 percent of non-custodial fathers.  Five years after separation about half the mothers were visiting irregularly or not at all, compared to slightly less than two thirds of fathers.  (1994-95 data)

Nord & Zill (1996)

Analysis of Survey of Income and Program Participation found that U.S. custodial mothers with written agreements report that 32 percent of non-resident fathers had not seen their children in the last year.  However, 24 percent had seen their children at least once a week.

Some 16 percent of non-resident mothers with written agreements had not visited in the part year, and 35 percent saw their children at least once a week.

King (1994)

Analysis of U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Youth found that 17 percent of non-custodial fathers saw their children at least twice a week, another 25 percent saw their children 1 to 4 times per month, 5 percent saw their children 7 to 11 times a year, 20 percent saw their children 1 to 6 times in the past year, and 31 percent of fathers never visited.  (1988 data)

Hirst & Smiley (1984)
( Australia)

Survey of 147 Australian custodial parents (solicited from Brisbane's family court registry), most separated two to four years.  Slightly more than 50 percent of the children in these families were seeing their access parent less than twice a year, if at all.  Another 22 percent were seeing their parent on a regular flexible basis (more than biweekly) while 17 percent visited fortnightly.

Exercise of access had declined since separation, and among the one third of parents who had had agreements at separation, only 20 were still in use and half had not lasted a year.

Wallerstein & Kelly (1980)
( U.S.)

Longitudinal qualitative study of 130 largely middle-class California children found 20 percent had infrequent contact (unspecified) and this did not change over time.

Seltzer & Bianchi (1988)

(cited in Nord & Zill 1996)

Half of all children with a non-custodial father saw the father less than once a month or had not seen him at all during the past year.  (1981 data).

Funder (1996)

Longitudinal study by the Australian Institute of Family Studies reported that five years after divorce 15 to 20 percent of children had not seen their non-resident parent for up to one year, and another 25 percent saw their non-resident parent less than every two months.  Only 10 percent of children saw their non-residential parent more than twice a month.

Mitchell (1985)

(cited in Family Law Council 1992a)

Scottish study found that 25 to 33 percent of children lost contact with fathers soon after separation and only half maintained regular contact over time.

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