Full Project Title: Understanding the impact of family breakdown, separation, and divorce (FBSD) on fathers and their children
Principal Investigator: Dr Ben Hine, University of West London
Co-Investigator: Dr Liz Bates, University of Cumbria
Research Assistant: Eilish Roy
Funding Body: The Woodward Charitable Trust
Timeline: January 2022 – January 2023
Over 40% of marriages in the UK end in divorce, with almost half of these involving couples who have children under the age of 16.
Research has established the impact of divorce on children and young adults, citing mainly negative outcomes including poorer mental health, psychological difficulties (including lower self-esteem, poorer self concept, loneliness and feelings of abandonment), lower educational attainment and relationship difficulties.
The typology and impact of behaviours associated with family breakdown, such as post-separation abuse and parental alienation, have also been studied in children, leading to the suggestion that such behaviours have a long-lasting impact on mental health and constitute significant adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
However the impact of divorce and associated behaviours on the mental health of the parents is less well established. Research has tended to favour studies about mothers, who are more likely to be the resident parent (97%). Fathers are commonly under represented in research, and the impact of the process and consequences of separation and divorce, as well as the impact of financial and legal dispute and process on fathers, is poorly understood.
This is in part due to stereotypes around men, masculinity, mental health, fatherhood, and abuse, which coalesce to erase the experiences of men and the need for research on their experiences.
This project will explore and understand the nature, context, and impact of family breakdown, separation, and divorce (FBSD) on fathers and their children, particularly in terms of mental health and suicide. It will also explore the experiences and challenges associated with supporting fathers experienced FBSD.
This will occur through the use of interviews with fathers, their children (over 16), and support providers, as well as reviews of existing data sets held by charities supporting fathers involved in family breakdown.
Findings from this project will enhance awareness around the impact of FBSD on fathers and children, and will help to ensure that effective support can be provided as the negative physical and mental health outcomes of FBSD for both parents and children manifest (including the increased risk of suicide).
In this sense, project findings have the potential to improve (and even save) the lives of fathers and children across the UK.
Supporting this Project
You can support this project in several ways (see below)! Please use the contact form at the bottom of this page to contact the PI and register your interest!
Direct Participation: If you are a) a father who has experienced family breakdown in the last five years, then please CLICK HERE to take part
b) an organisation/individual who supports these individuals then please register your interest in taking part in our focus group using the form below!
Providing Organisational Data: Organisations who support men and children experiencing FBSD often collect rich quantitative data on their clients. If you are in a position to speak about potentially sharing this data with the research team, to compliment the qualitative data from direct interviews, then please do get in touch using the form below.