New CFRP Report about Father Involvement after a Nonmarital Birth

The percentage of nonmarital births in the United States doubled between 1980 and 2011. Currently, in Texas, 42 percent of recent births are to unmarried mothers. This dramatic rise in the number of nonmarital births is of growing concern because of the precarious economic status of single parents (most often mothers) and children. Moreover, there is a host of negative social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes associated with children who live in poor single-parent families, especially when those families lack involved and supportive fathers.

One strategy to promote a father’s financial and emotional investment in his child—while also formalizing the legal rights and responsibilities of fatherhood—is to encourage the establishment of paternity. Paternity establishment is the legal determination of fatherhood. It serves as a tool to promote responsibility, encourage father involvement, and provide legal access to a cadre of attendant benefits and rights. Furthermore, research shows that fathers who voluntarily sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) form in the hospital are more likely to be involved and supportive, which can lead to improved child outcomes.

In CFRP's newest report, A Portrait of Father Involvement and Support in the First Three Years after a Nonmarital Birth, we examine the intersection of in-hospital acknowledgment of paternity (AOP), formal child support, informal support, parental relationships, and father involvement. The report's aim is to give a broad understanding of the characteristics associated with each topic. To address the research aims related to this report, CFRP conducted two separate studies: The Paternity Establishment Study (PES) and Checking in with AOP Signers (CAS) Study. Information from the PES and CAS studies are used extensively throughout the report.

Full report: A Portrait of Father Involvement and Support in the First Three Years after a Nonmarital Birth.

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