Oregon Divorced Fathers Study

Based on Research Conducted at OSLC

A study utilizing reliable data on fathers’ parenting behaviors giving expression to fathers’ views, investigating their behavior, support, and adjustment processes.

Project Overview

Quality involvement of fathers following divorce provides direct benefits for children, mothers, and society. Unfortunately, fathers tend to disengage in parenting roles over time. Social support for fathers is a key determinant of involvement, yet support for divorced fathers is virtually unstudied. Much of what is known about divorced fathers comes from reports of custodial mothers, surveys, or census data. These sources, however, do not provide reliable data on fathers’ parenting behaviors or give expression to fathers’ views. The Oregon Divorced Father Study (ODFS) utilized a population-based county-representative sample and methods to more reliably assess behavior, support, and adjustment processes. It was designed to better understand both the measurement properties, including observation, and the factors promoting skilled involved as well as disengaged parenting behaviors. The sample therefore included fathers of all custody statuses because no-custody fathers are an understudied segment of the population, many of whom have contact with and influence their children’s development. The study enrolled 230 divorced father families with a child ranging between the ages of 4 and 12 to be studied over 2 years: 46 full-custody fathers (20%), 114 shared-custody (50%), and 70 no-custody families (30%). In total, 78% of the fathers enrolled a focal child and 96% of the fathers reported some contact with the focal child. Fathers were also invited to enroll an adult support confidant; 76% of the fathers could do so. The study was unique in that it utilized direct observation of father-confidant interactions and father-child interactions.

Year Project Began: 2002
Funder: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Principal Investigator

David S. DeGarmo, Ph.D.

Senior Fellow Scientist
Oregon Social Learning Center

Primary Research and Clinical Interests

Dr. DeGarmo has conducted programmatic research on family stress and social learning models of parent and child adjustment to negative life events and socially disadvantaged environments. A major focus of his work has been on evaluation of parent training for families at risk for compromised parenting including divorced and remarried families, families in supportive housing, biological and foster parents in the child welfare system, and deployed and post-deployed military families. Recently, he has focused on the independent and interactive effects of fathering. DeGarmo has published over 65 papers, and over 20 efficacy and effectiveness evaluations including work on implementation process and fidelity, mediation and moderation in the context of RCTs and multilevel samples. DeGarmo has methodological expertise in structural equation modeling, multilevel modeling, and linear and nonlinear trajectory analyses. DeGarmo serves on the editorial board of Parenting Science and Practice and Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology and is a standing member of the Social and Behavioral panel of the Institute of Education Sciences.