A growing number of children are living in households with only one of their parents, usually the mother. Moreover, the adults living with the children are not always the children’s biological parents. The changing nature of family life has meant that parenting roles, expectations and responsibilities are in transition. The responsibility for children is not based on the marriage and partnership but rather on the parental obligation towards the children (Maclean & Eekelaar 1997).

Keywords:

non-resident parent

children

lone parent families

stepfamilies

Interest in family structure and cross-household ties between parents and children are motivated by the observed effects of contact arrangements on children’s economic and psychological well-being. Many studies indicate that the interest of children in the post-separation situation is generally best served when children can maintain continuing and frequent contact with the non-resident parent (Amato & Gilbreth 1999; Pryor & Rodgers 2001; Bauserman 2002; Dunn et al. 2004). The child’s visiting right is therefore an important tool for improving the well-being of those children whose parents are not living together.

In this article we analyse the children’s contact with the non-resident parent. We focus on the families in which the child has undergone the parental separation, either divorce or breakdown of consensual union, or the biological parents have never lived together. The article studies how the background of the family, the current family situation, the relationship with biological parents and the child’s relationship with the non-resident parent are connected to the contacts between the child and the non-resident parent. The information on the functioning child-parent contact after parental separation can help to improve family policy and social work practices which are aimed at supporting parents and children after separation.

Sharing the responsibility of children: the Finnish context

In Finland, as in all Nordic countries, the number of lone parent families and stepfamilies has increased. At the beginning of this millennium, in Finland, of all families with children 19 % were lone parent families and 8 % stepfamilies (Statistics Finland 2002). This means that a quarter of Finnish children live apart from one of their biological parents (Kartovaara & Sauli 2001). In Sweden and Norway, 21 % of all working-age parents with dependent children were lone parents in 2001 (Bradshaw & Finch 2002). In Sweden, four out of ten children live at least part of their childhood in a lone parent family (Gähler 2001), and nearly one out of ten children live in a stepfamily (Statistics Sweden 2006).

In the Nordic countries, policy making has emphasised biological parenthood and the right of the child to parental support. This idea has shaped the laws on child custody after parental separation in all Nordic countries. The aim is to give high priority to supporting the contact between the child and the non-resident parent after parental separation, and the legal provisions that regulate the visitation rights are congruent with each other in all Nordic countries. (Corden 1999; Bergman & Hobson 2002.) In Finland, the parental responsibility is enacted in two laws. The Child’s Custody and Right to Access Act reflects the views that the sharing of parental responsibility should be encouraged and that the child has a right to meet both parents after separation. According to the Act, it is in the best interest of children to have contact with their biological parents, and joint legal custody is also seen as an opportunity to encourage

men to participate in child-rearing after separation. Moreover the Fathers’ Committee deliberation of the Ministry of Social Affairs reported that a child has a right to both parents after separation and that joint legal custody is the most recommended alternative.

In Finland, most parents share custody of the child. Only a fifth of parents do not share legal custody, which means that, of those children, 19 % are in the sole custody of the mother and 3 % are in the sole custody of the father. Most of the children continue to live with the mother and the numbers are greater the younger the children (Kartovaara & Sauli 2001).

The security of Child Maintenance Act follows the principle that every child has a right to be adequately provided for and that child maintenance is the right of the child. All parents are responsible for supporting their children, in accordance with their abilities. Parents can make private arrangements about payments. If payment is not made, the resident parent may approach the social welfare board, which takes over responsibility for enforcement. The municipality advances or guarantees are meant to ensure that children actually receive child maintenance and then seek to recoup the costs of these from the other parent. If child maintenance liabilities are not met, the Social Welfare Board may pay the child a monthly maintenance grant. In 2005 this was 118 € per month per child. Advance maintenance schemes ensure the regularity of at least a portion of the entitlement.

Previous studies on the contact between children and the non-resident parent

Prior research on determinants of parents’ involvement with non-residential children shows wide variation in the degree to which parents remain involved in the lives of their children (Seltzer & Bianchi 1988; Cooksey & Graig 1998; Bradshaw et al. 1999; Blackwell & Dawe 2003; Dunn et al. 2004; Statistics Norway 2005). Recent studies from different countries suggest that about a third of children have no contact with their non-resident parent (Bradshaw et al. 1999; Blackwell & Dawe 2003; Statistics Norway 2005). This is not always the preferred outcome, because studies have documented the distress and anger felt by some non-resident parents who feel unable to participate meaningfully in their children’s lives (Bradshaw et al. 1999). In particular, it is argued that women typically get residence, and thus control the father’s involvement. Most children still want to have contact with their non-resident parent and see him as an important part of the family.

A wide range of factors is connected to the contact between the child and the non-resident parent. The first group of factors concerns the background of the family and the current family situation. Formerly married parents have more contact with their children than ex-habitants or those who have never lived together (Maclean & Ekelaar 1997). The time the children’s parents have separated and the distance between their

homes also have an impact. Perhaps not surprisingly, less contact is reported when parents have been separated for a longer time, and also when the distance between their homes is greater (Blackwell & Dawe 2003).

How the legal custody of children is shared tells how parenting is shared after parental separation in theory. Those children whose parents have shared custody seem also in practice to have more frequent contact with their non-resident parent (Amato & Gilbreth 1999; Bergman & Hobson 2002). Joint legal custody may reduce the conflicts between biological parents, and thus promote the contact with children (Bauserman 2002). On the other hand, it has been found that the model of custody is not crucial, whereas the functional co-operation of the ex-spouses after separation is.

Mothers’ parenting role differs from the role of fathers. Women are still more involved than men in day-to-day child care: non-custodial mothers may have more frequent contact with their children than non-resident fathers. The findings from this area are contradictory. Stewart (1999) reports that non-resident mothers and fathers have relatively similar patterns of contact with their children. Another study suggests that non-resident mothers maintain more contact with their children than non-resident fathers (Statistics Norway 2005).

Earlier studies suggest that building up a stepfamily is connected to the non-resident parent’s social participation in the every day life of the child. The non-resident parent’s new families or relationships may diminish the contact between the child and the non-resident parent. Non-resident fathers living alone meet their children more often than fathers living with their new families (Rangarajan & Gleason 1998; Bradshaw et al. 1999, 86–87, 98). The contact between the child and the non-resident parent can be problematic also if a stepparent has difficulties finding his or her role in the child’s life. Children in stepfamilies meet their non-resident parents more rarely than children in lone parent families (Seltzer & Bianchi 1988; Bradshaw et al. 1999). When the spouses in the stepfamily have children and they form some kind of a nuclear family inside the stepfamily, the relationships inside the stepfamily become stronger and communication with the non-resident parent may decrease. The stepfamily can also be clearly based on the relationship between the spouses. From the child’s point of view, the stepfamily is like a lone parent family, and the child also meets the non-resident parent more often. (Jaakkola & Säntti 2000, 65–66.)

The relationship between the child and the non-resident parent, and the relationship between the biological parents, are connected to the contact between the child and the non-resident parent. The co-operation between biological parents can be problematic, because divorce may increase conflicts (Emery 1982). The longer and more problematic a divorce process has been, the worse the relationship between the ex-spouses (Baum 2003). The factors influencing the divorce and the initiator of the divorce have also been identified as factors connected to how co-operation functions between the ex-spouses. In addition, the stepfamily of the non-resident parent may

have an influence on the co-operation between the child’s biological parents. Non-resident fathers with children born in their new marriage more often have a non-functional relationship with the child’s mother. (Bradshaw et al. 1999.)

In addition to the contacts, the economic support from the non-resident parent is crucial for children (Bradshaw et al. 1999). Earlier studies provide evidence that maintenance payments and contact with the child are positively correlated (Bradshaw et al. 1999; Stewart 1999; Menning 2002). However, very little is yet known about the non-resident parents and their ability to pay child maintenance. Some studies suggest that liablers could certainly pay more maintenance than they currently do (Miller et al. 1997). There are very few non-resident fathers who deliberately avoid payments; rather they are financially unable to pay (Bradshaw et al. 1999). Corden (1999) describes how in Finland, the most common reason for non-payment is inability to pay because of limited income, although arguments between parents about access and custody are often associated with non-payment of maintenance.

The study, the data and the methods

In this article, we study the child’s contact with the non-resident parent in lone parent families and stepfamilies. We answer the following questions: How often does the child has contact with the non-resident parent and what factors are connected to this?

According to the earlier research, we can hypothesize that different factors are related to the frequency of contact between the child and the non-resident parent. The first group of factors includes the family history and the current family situation. Parents sharing custody will have more frequent contact with the child. Formerly married parents are here thought to have more contact. In lone parent families the time since separation may have an effect on contact: the more time has passed since the separation, the lesser degree the contact. The sex of the non-resident parent is here supposed to have no influence on contact. According to our hypotheses, children living in lone parent families meet their non-resident parents more often than children living in stepfamilies and non-resident parents paying child maintenance have more frequent contact with the child. We also assume that a good relationship between the biological parents and a functional relationship between the child and the non-resident parent facilitate the child’s contact with the non-resident parent. The better the relationship between the biological parents and the better the relationship between the child and the non-resident parent, the more often the children meet their non-resident parents. Further, in stepfamilies, the relationship with the stepmother or stepfather may influence the child’s contact with the non-resident parent, i.e. a functional relationship facilitates the contact.

The research was conducted with a large survey in spring 2002. Family type (nuclear family, lone parent family and stepfamily) and the age of the children were used as determining criteria in choosing the population of the research. Out of this basic

population, 4200 Finnish families were randomly chosen. The sample consisted of 1200 two-parent families, 1500 lone parent families, and 1500 stepfamilies. These families had children aged 3, 6 and/or 8 years at the time when the study was conducted. A questionnaire was filled in by 2236 parents and the response rate was approximately 54 %. Although the response rate remained rather low, the respondents represent rather well the situation of families with children in Finland.

The respondents included 659 lone parent families and 627 stepfamilies with a connected non-resident parent. In 94 % of the lone parent families, the non-resident parent was a man, and in 6 % a woman. In 93 % of the stepfamilies, the non-resident parent was the father and in 7 % the mother. The respondents were the parents with whom the child was living. Thus, the results give a picture from the resident parent’s point of view.

The dependent variable used here is the child’s contact with the non-resident parent. The five response categories concerning the contact ranged from every day to very seldom. The independent variables were connected to the background of the family, the current family situation as well as the relationships between the biological parents and between the child and the non-resident parent. Some of the variables were continuous variables, as some questions used Likert scale alternatives (strongly agree – strongly disagree).

The following sum variables were used as independent variables. The co-operation of the biological parents was measured by the sum variable from two statements ’I have a good relationship with the child’s non-resident parent’ and ’We can talk about all the child’s concerns’. The Cronbach alfa between the two statements was 0.84. The variable which measured the relationship between the child and the non- resident parent includes three statements. ’I think the child’s non-resident parent shares the child’s day-to-day care with me’ and ‘The non-resident parent has enough time for the child’ and ’The child’s relationship with the non-resident parent is good and they have frequent contact’. Here the Cronbach alfa was 0.83. The non-resident parents’ economic commitment was measured by two statements. ‘The non-resident parent shares the cost of the child equally’ and ‘The non-resident parent, in addition to the child maintenance, also pays other costs of the child’. The Cronbach alfa was 0.78. The other variable that measured economic responsibility was the paid amount of child maintenance.

The dependent variable consisted of more than two categories and, therefore, its associations with the independent variables were analysed using the cumulative logistic regression model. The model assumes that the differences between the categories of independent variables appear as shifts in the percentage distribution of the independent variable. (Hosmer & Lemeshow 2000.) The higher the probability of the cumulative odds ratios (COR), the higher the probability not to have contact with the child. The cumulative odds ratios (CORs) with 95 % confidence level (CI) were calculated for those variables that showed statistically significant explanatory power. Bi-variate

associations of independent variables were first examined. Then, of the statistically significant variables, those, that showed statistically significant associations with child contact with resident parent, were taken into the multivariate model. There were different variables for lone parent families and stepfamilies and, therefore, the analyses were carried out separately. For example, the current family situation is very different in lone parent families and stepfamilies, since stepfamilies may have very diverse relationships between children and adults.

The frequency of contact between the child and the non-resident parent

Over 70 % of children had frequent contact with their non-resident parent, meeting each other at least once a month. About 30 % of children did not have contact with their non-resident parent or the contact was very occasional. Similar results have been found in previous studies (Bradshaw et al. 1999; Blackwell & Dawe 2003; Statistics Norway 2005). However, we found some differences in the frequency of contacts in different family types.

Table 1. Contact between children and a non-resident parent in loneparent families and stepfamilies (n=1286)

Lone parent family (n=659)

Stepfamily (n=627)

n

%

n

%

Every day

41

7

11

2

Every week

194

28

129

21

Every month

273

43

256

40

A few times a year

56

8

92

15

Very seldom

95

14

139

22

x2= 234,4 p=0,000

In lone parent families, almost 80 % of children have contact with their non-resident parent at least once a month. About one third of children living in lone parent families have contact with their non-resident parent every week. The share of children having very occasional contact with their non-resident parent was about 20 %. Thus, about a fifth of children living in lone parent families have no contact with their non-resident parent.

In stepfamilies, over 60 % of children had contact with their non-resident parent at least once a month. Of these children, one third visited their non-resident parent at least once a week. About 40 % of children living in stepfamilies did not have frequent contact with their non- resident parent. The share of children not having regular

contact with their non-resident parent was larger in stepfamilies than in lone parent families. This result was expected as earlier studies have showed that parents who have re-partnered or have other children living with them were less likely to have regular contact with their non-resident child (Bradshaw et al. 1999).

What factors predict the contacts between the child and the non-resident parent?

Next we analyse factors predicting the contacts between the child and the non-resident parent. First bi-variate analyses are introduced, to be followed by two multivariate analyses. As hypothesized, the background of the family was connected to the frequency of contact between the child and the non-resident parent. The length of lone parenthood had an impact on the contact. If more than six years had passed since the separation, there was a higher probability of children having no contact with the non-resident parent. This is in line with previous studies and with our hypotheses. In stepfamilies, time did not have a significant effect (p=0.58), because the stepfamilies studied here had lived together quite a short period of time (approx 3 years). Formerly married parents had more contact to the non-resident child than ex-habitants and those who had never lived together. The child custody arrangements were strongly related to the frequency of contact in both family types. Children who were in joint legal custody had more contact with the non-resident parent than children who were in the sole custody of one parent.

In lone parent families, the number of children and the age of the youngest child were related to the frequency of contact. If there were more than three children and the youngest child was between 3–6 years of age, the non-resident parents met their children more often compared to the situation where parents had fewer children and the youngest child was below three years or over six years of age.

In stepfamilies, the sex of the non-resident parent was a significant predictor of contact. Non-resident mothers had more contact with their children than non-resident fathers. We also expected that the relationship with the stepparent might have an impact on contact. The children whose relationship with the stepparent was more like a friendship were more likely to meet their non-resident parent. If the relationship was more like a parental relationship, children had less contact with their non-resident parent.

The relationships on the one hand between the biological parents, and on the other hand between the child and the non-resident parent, both correlated strongly with the child’s contact with the parent, who did not live in the same household. If the resident parent estimated that there were problems in the relationship between the children and the non-resident parent, the odds for children not to have contact were higher. The communication between the biological parents was highly correlated to the frequency of contact in both family types. About 65 % of resident parents reported

Table 2. Factors influencing the child-parent contact in lone parent families. Cumulative logistic regression.

Bi-variate analysis

Multivariate analysis

p

COR

95 % CI

p

COR

95 % CI

Time of lone parenthood

0,0001

0,7603

Less than a year

1,00

1,00

1-2 years

1,26

0,80-1,99

0,95

0,57-1,57

2-4 years

2,00

1,31-3,03

1,03

0,64-1,65

4-6 years

2,15

1,36-3,40

1,24

0,7-2,10

Over 6 years

3,86

2,37-6,26

1,32

0,73-2,39

Route to lone parenthood

0,0001

0,0519

No relationship

1,00

1,00

Separation of co-habitant

0,39

0,24-0,64

0,66

0,36-1,21

Divorce

0,25

0,15-0,41

0,49

0,26-0,92

Child custody

0,0001

0,0001

Sole custody

1,00

1,00

Joint custody

0,25

0,18-0,36

0,44

0,31-0,64

Number of children

0,0078

0,1040

1 child

1,00

1,00

2 children

0,76

0,55-1,04

1,01

0,70-1,46

3 or more children

0,54

0,36-0,80

0,65

0,41-1,03

Age of the youngest child

0,0066

0,0143

Below 3 years of age

1,00

1,00

3-6 years of age

0,71

0,46-1,08

0,93

0,57-1,51

Over 6 years of age

1,17

0,77-1,77

1,57

0,94-2,61

Co-operation of biological parents

0,001

0,0001

Functional

1,00

1,00

Non-functional

4,22

3,06-5,82

2,42

1,68-3,48

Distance to non-resident parent

0,0001

0,0001

Less than 30 km

1,00

1,00

30-150 km

1,70

1,16-2,51

1,67

1,01-5,54

Over150 km

8,56

5,52-13,25

7,66

4,78-12,27

Child maintenance

0,001

0,0220

Not paid

1,00

1,00

Paid

0,52

0,39-0,70

0,68

0,49-0,95

Economic responsibility

0,001

0,0001

Good

1,00

1,00

Poor

5,59

3,98-7,89

2,24

1,50-3,36

Relationship between child and non-resident parent

0,001

0,0001

Functional

1,00

1,00

Non-functional

7,71

5,52-10,77

3,91

2,65-5,76

Table 3. Factors influencing the child-parent contact in stepfamilies. Cumulative logistic regression.

Bi-variate analysis

Multivariate analysis

p

COR

95 % CI

p

COR

95 % CI

Child custody

0,0001

0,0001

Sole custody

1,00

1,00

Joint custody

0,15

0,11-0,22

0,25

0,17-0,37

Co-operation of biological parents

0,0001

0,0006

Functional

1,00

1,00

Non-functional

3,95

2,88-5,42

1,90

1,33-2,76

Distance to non-resident parent

0,0001

0,0001

Less than 30 km

1,00

1,00

30-150 km

1,45

1,00-2,10

1,17

0,79-1,75

Over150 km

4,36

2,99-6,37

3,35

2,21-5,06

Child maintenance

0,0001

0,0123

Not paid

1,00

1,00

Paid

0,34

0,25-0,46

0,64

0,45-0,91

Economic responsibility

0,0001

0,3431

Good

1,00

1,00

Poor

3,22

2,35-4,41

1,19

0,83-1,74

Relationship between child and non-resident parent

0,0001

0,0001

Functional

1,00

1,00

Non-functional

11,85

8,06-17,42

7,19

4,73-10,94

The gender of non-resident parent

0,0189

0,1397

Mother

1,00

1,00

Father

1,94

1,12-3,38

1,64

0,85-3,15

Common child of the spouses of stepfamily

0,0077

0,5555

Common child

1,00

1,00

Not common child

0,67

0,50-0,90

0,91

0,65-1,26

Relationship between child and stepparent

0,0001

0,4424

Like a friendship

1,00

1,00

Like a parental relationship

1,85

1,37-2,51

1,14

0,81-1,61

having a functional relationship with the other biological parent, and they could talk about the child without feuds. Even if there were problems between the biological parents, contact between the child and the parent was still possible. In stepfamilies, the conflicts between the biological parents were strongly associated with the contact. The meetings could be problematic if the child had a step-parent and the co-operation between the ex-spouses was non-functional.

In line with the previous research, we found the economic responsibility to be related to the frequency of visits. Of resident parents, 45 % received a maintenance allowance from the non-resident parent, a third received a maintenance allowance from the municipality and 7 % received both. About 10 % reported not receiving any child maintenance. In the cases where the non-resident parent was paying child maintenance and the resident parent felt they were bearing the financial responsibility of the child together, contact was more regular.

Next, we move from bi-variate analysis to the multivariate analysis. In the multivariate analysis of lone parent families, joint legal custody of the child, divorce and age of the youngest child were connected to the frequency of contact between the child and the non-resident parent. Of the background variables good economic responsibility and short geographical distance also predicted more contact between the child and the non-resident parent. A functional relationship between the biological parents and a good relationship between the child and the non-resident parent lead to more frequent contacts.

According to the multivariate analysis of the stepfamilies, some factors emerged statistically insignificant. The economic participation of the non-resident parent was not significant by itself but it was connected to the co-operation between the biological parents: if the co-operation was non-functional, the economic participation was also evaluated as being rather poor. In this final model, the gender of the non-resident parent was not a statistically significant factor in explaining the contact between the child and the non-resident parent. The non-resident mothers seemed to live closer to their children, so it was the geographical distance that was the explaining factor. The co-operation between the biological parents was connected to the common child of the spouses in stepfamilies. In stepfamilies with no common child, there was more functional co-operation between the biological parents. Functional co-operation increased the contact between the child and the non-resident parent. The relationship between the child and the stepparent was connected to the custody of the child. In families where the mother or the father had sole custody, the relationship between the child and the stepparent was found to be more like parenthood.

Parental co-operation supports the child-parent contact after parental separation

It is important that children have the opportunity to meet their non-resident parent regardless of the parents’ mutual relations and the reasons for the separation. According to our study, the majority (70 %) of the children of separated families met their non-resident parent regularly at least once a month. However, every third child living with a lone parent or a stepfamily had hardly any contact with the non-resident parent. For a child, this can mean the weakening of social care structures.

In both family types, the factors influencing the contact seemed to be very much the same. Joint legal custody raised the probability of seeing children more often. The distance between the homes of the child and their non-resident parent had a significant impact: children who lived near their non-resident parent were more likely to have contact. Functional co-operation between the biological parents increased the likelihood of continuing the contact after parental separation. Moreover, the contact with children was very closely associated with whether child maintenance was paid or not. The structural factors of the stepfamilies seemed to have an underlining influence. For example, a common child of the spouses seemed to have an indirect influence on the contact between the child and the non-resident parent: the birth of the common child in a stepfamily could lead to difficulties in the co-operation between the biological parents of an older child. Non-functional co-operation was connected to the contact between the child and the non-resident parent.

On the other hand, it should be born in mind that visiting the non-resident parent is not always in the best interest of the child. The resident parent may have a justified argument against visitation rights, for example, the risk of domestic violence or substance abuse, or the mental instability of the non-resident parent. In these cases, supervised meetings should be arranged for the child and the non-resident parent, for example, in connection with hobbies or in the facilities of shelters or organizations. In February 2006, administrators from the Ministry of Social Affairs proposed that the Social Welfare Act should include a responsibility for local authorities to provide support for and supervision of meetings between children and non-resident parents as referred to in the Child’s Custody and Right of Access Act.

The numerous factors that influence visitation and non-resident parenthood may be condensed into three relationships: the mutual relations of the biological parents, the relations of the child and the non-resident parent, and the parents’ relations with their new significant others. A well-functioning relationship between the biological parents lays the foundation for successful non-resident parenting. Despite the strong correlation, regular visits also seemed possible without good cooperation between the biological parents. Nevertheless, the best possible situation in terms of the child is when the parents maintain functioning mutual relations after the separation, and are able to make joint decisions on matters concerning the child.

How to support visitation rights?

In connection with separation, most children stay with their mothers, and thus most non-resident parents are men. Although the aim of Finnish family policy has been to create a system where the fathers would take more responsibility for child care, the traditional gender roles still dominate in the family scene. Although the concept of fatherhood has changed and although fathers are more involved in the everyday lives of their children than they were a couple of decades ago, joint parenthood is not fully

realized in all areas of family life. In non-resident parenting it is realized to an even lesser extent.

There may be various reasons why the non-resident parent does not wish to meet the children. The visits may become psychologically unbearable for the father, which may cause him to avoid his parental responsibilities. On the other hand, the non-resident parent is not entitled to family policy benefits that might help to strengthen post-separation parenting. Even when the children visit regularly, the non-resident parent is entitled only to a tax deduction. Visits might be made easier by providing that kind of facilities for the meetings between the non-resident parent and the child that ensure the child’s right to privacy For example, the costs generated by children staying with the non-resident parent might be more extensively compensated for in the housing allowance. Furthermore, less strict criteria might be used for the size of the residence and residential costs. Likewise, the costs created by visiting children, including travel expenses of both the non-resident parent and the child might be taken into consideration in income support. It might also be worth contemplating whether the child could be registered as a permanent resident in two homes, especially as alternating living arrangements are becoming more common.

For most people, the termination of a partnership is one of the most difficult life crises. Parents must often make agreements regarding visitation rights while the relationship crisis is at its worst. It may be extremely difficult to make long-term plans in an atmosphere laden with contention. Therefore, psychosocial support should be available for families undergoing separation in order to keep the parenting relationship outside the partnership conflicts. It is in the best interest of the children that the visiting practices be established as soon as possible following the separation. This enables the child to trust that the relationship with the non-resident parent will continue beyond the separation.

The results of our study represent non-resident parenthood in the lives of children as seen by resident parents. The picture might have been different had we had more information on non-resident parents and their views. Previous studies (Bradshaw et al. 1999) have shown that resident mothers and non-resident fathers view children’s visitation quite differently. Thus, future studies should perhaps focus more on how the non-resident parent experiences the realization of visitation rights. Naturally, the children should not be forgotten in this context. It would also be important to study how the children feel about the visits, and which visitation arrangements they prefer. A few studies have examined the relationship between non-resident parents and their children. The researchers should also adopt a more comprehensive approach to the quality of contacts instead of simply relying on the contact frequency. By adapting the proposals of various studies, it may be possible to create visitation rights that serve the needs and fulfill the expectations of all parties involved.

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Summaries

Parenting from a distance: Factors connected to contact between children and a non-resident parent

Factors influencing the frequency of contact between children and a non-resident parent are relatively unknown. This article uses data from a survey in exploring the frequency of contacts between the children and the non-resident parents as well as the factors connected to the contacts. The results indicate that over 70 % of children in the study had contact with their non-resident parent at least once a month. Children living in a lone-parent family met their non-resident parents more often than children living in a stepfamily. The same factors seem to influence the frequency of contact in different family types. Joint legal custody raised the probability of seeing children more often. Children who lived near their non-resident parent were more likely to have contact. Functional co-operation between the biological parents increased the likelihood of continuing the contact after parental separation. Moreover, contact was more frequent if the child maintenance was paid. The structural factors of the stepfamilies seemed to have an underlining influence.

Lapsen ja etävanhemman tapaaminen yksinhuol- taja- ja uusperheissä

Artikkelissa selvitettiin lapsen ja etävanhemman tapaamista ja siihen yhteydessä olevia tekijöitä yksinhuoltaja- ja uusperheissä lapsen kanssa asuvan lähivanhemman näkökulmasta. Tutkimuksen aineistona käytettiin kyselyaineistoa, jossa oli mukana 659 yksinhuoltajaperhettä ja 627 uusperhettä. Yli 70 % yksinhuoltaja- ja uusperheis-sä asuvista lapsista tapasi etävanhempaansa vähintään kerran kuukaudessa. Yksinhuoltajaperheiden lapset tapasivat etävanhempaansa useammin kuin uusperheiden lapset. Lasten ja etävanhempien tapaamisiin yhteydessä olevat tekijät osoittautuivat olevan molemmissa perhetyypeissä hyvin pitkälle samoja: tapaamisia lisääviä tekijöitä olivat yhteishuoltajuus, lyhyt matka etävanhemman luo, biologisten vanhempien välinen toimiva yhteistyö, elatusmaksun maksaminen sekä lapsen hyvä suhde etävanhempaan. Uusperheen rakenteeseen liittyvät tekijät osoittautuivat olevan voimakkaasti tapaamista selittävien tekijöiden taustalla, esimerkiksi uusperheen yhteisen lapsen syntymä näytti vaikeuttavan biologisten vanhempien yhteistyötä.

Að vera foreldri úr fjarlægð: Þættir tengdir samskiptum barna og foreldris, sem býr ekki á heimili barnsins.

Þættir, sem hafa áhrif á hve oft samskipti eiga sér stað milli barna og foreldris sem ekki búa saman, eru fremur lítið þekktir. Þessi grein styðst við upplýsingar úr könnun á tíðni samskipta milli barna og foreldra sem ekki hafa sama aðsetur, svo og upplýsingum á þeim þáttum, sem hafa áhrif á og tengjast samskiptunum. Niðurstöður leiddu í ljós, að meir en 70% af börnunum í könnuninni áttu samskipti við foreldrið sem bjó annars staðar að minnsta kosti einu sinni í mánuði. Börn sem bjuggu hjá einstæðu foreldri voru oftar í sambandi við hitt foreldrið en börn sem lifðu í stjúpfjölskyldu. Sömu þættir virtust hafa áhrif á tíðni samskipta, þótt fjölskylduform væru ólík. Sameiginleg forsjá jók líkur á því að hitta börnin oftar. Börn sem bjuggu nálægt heimili foreldrisins voru líklegri til að eiga samskipti við foreldrið. Virkt samstarf milli kynforeldra jók líkur á viðvarandi samskiptum eftir skilnað foreldra. Ennfremur voru samskipti tíðari, ef meðlag var greitt með barninu/börnunum. Þættir í formgerð stjúpfjölskyldu virtust hafa ákveðin áhrif.