According to recent research from the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), around an eighth of separated or divorced fathers do not have any contact with their children. More specifically, this applies to around 13% of such fathers throughout the UK.
NatCen have published this study annually since they were first founded in 1983. It draws on data gathered through the “British Social Attitudes Survey,” and aims to examine life for Britain’s families and the way it changes with each passing year. This year’s survey highlighted the fact that almost a million British fathers have children who they do not live with, and 13% of those do not have any contact with them at all.
According to claims from The Centre for Social Injustice, parts of the UK have become “men deserts” with entire neighbourhoods full of families that lack father figures. Furthermore, the Centre for Social Injustice described a “tsunami of family breakdown” as being responsible for the number of children left without a father.
There seem to be a number of reasons that fathers lose contact with their children after a relationship comes to an end. One such factor seems to be fathers entering into new serious relationships. According to the NatCen report, only 69% of fathers maintained contact with their children when entering into a new relationship. This compares to 86% of fathers who do not enter into a serious new relationship.
According to Eloise Pool, a Natcen Spokesperson, financial problems are also a factor. According to Pool, “Some fathers simply don’t have the financial resources, or spare bedrooms, to be able to maintain regular contact with their children.”
This compounds existing concerns over the effect of rising divorce rates on children. Another recent report, this time from the Marriage Foundation, suggests that 50% of infants in the UK at present can expect their parents to divorce by the time they are 15. This is based on an estimate drawn from current divorce rates and analysis of trends.
However, the government hope that recent reforms to the legal process surrounding divorce will help tackle these concerns. Earlier this year, a new Child Maintenance Service was introduced. This is primarily aimed at making the divorce process easier and more amicable rather than preventing separations. However, it is hoped that this will lessen animosity between separated parents, which could contribute to more ongoing contact between fathers and children. It is also hoped that it will lead to more optimised financial arrangements, helping tackle the factor of money pressures.