The Role of Father Involvement in the Union Transitions of Cohabiting Parents

Letitia Kotila, Ohio State University

Cohabitors reflect a growing proportion of new parents, yet most cohabiting unions will end in dissolution rather than marriage. I used discrete-time event history methods with a multinomial logit to examine the role of father involvement in the union transitions of cohabiting parents in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (n = 820). Father involvement in engagement and indirect care were measured using mother's reports of involvement when children were 1 and 3 years of age. Marriage or dissolution was measured from mother's reports when children were either 3 or 5 years old. Fathers' indirect care was associated with a 27% lower risk of dissolution, and marginally associated with a 31% greater risk of marriage, relative to continuous cohabitation. Engagement was not associated with union transitions. Findings suggest that relationship education and marriage promotion programs may be strengthened by including interventions to increase fathers' indirect care for children.

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Presented in Session 30: Gender and Union Dissolution