By Bradshaw, Skinners, Smitson
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Sensitive topics Both studies were dealing with highly sensitive topics and this did cause distress for some fathers during the interviews. There was an added dimension of sensitivity for the study on financial obligations— where discussing income/money has perhaps become more of a taboo in moder n society than discussing people’s sexual relationships. Moreover, money in the form of maintenance (or its lack) has been used in political discourses to stigmatise and cr iticise the whole population of non-resident fathers.
This may be due to differences in definitions between the surveys—single in our survey is defined as having no partner in the household, whereas married are married and have a partner in the household. Second, the age of the youngest absent child—fewer 11–18 year olds in our sample. This is explainable by the difference in the age cut-off in the FWLS survey, which includes all children up to age 18, whereas we included children over 16 if they were in full-time education. The second source of comparative data is the Client Satisfaction Survey, undertaken on behalf of the Child Support Agency.
The average length of time the fathers had cohabited before the birth of the child was twenty-five months and the average time afterwards was seventeen months. It is possible to distinguish between three types of cohabiting relationship. First there were those that were marriage-like when they broke down: their living-together relationship had preceded the birth of the first child by at least one year, and had continued for a year or more following the child’s birth (25 per cent). Of these, 44 per cent had spent over three years with their child in the mother’s household.
Absent Fathers by Bradshaw, Skinners, Smitson