30 June 2016
One in Four Dads Admit to Being FaceTime Fathers to Stay in Touch With Children
Divorced dads are increasingly turning to technology to stay in touch with their children, with six in 10 feeling shut out of their children’s lives.
For fathers who don't live with their children communication is now more likely to take place over FaceTime or Skype than with physical contact, new research shows.
The average divorced parent spends 13 hours a week speaking to their children over phone, text or social media and just eight hours face to face.
One in four admit they are FaceTime fathers, using the popular online app, while 23 per cent use Skype, 57 per cent use text/WhatsApp and 23 per cent use social media.
A quarter of divorcees said they were unhappy with their custody arrangements, known legally as residency, with dads (16 per cent) most likely to feel like they haven't been treated fairly.
As a result nearly 70 per cent of divorced dads said they felt 'distant' from their children and what they do day to day. They also felt that their relationship would be better if they spent more time physically with one another rather than relying on technology.
The research, commissioned by family law experts Slater and Gordon, shows the growing part technology is playing in the lives of children and their fathers after divorce.
Nearly three quarters of dads admitted to feeling left out of their children’s lives because they don’t get to see them face to face as much as they would like.
Vicki McLynn, family lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: “FaceTime fathers is a growing phenomenon, as technology becomes more prevalent and replaces physical contact with children.
"In our experience dads want to feel just as involved in their children's life after a divorce as they did before but the logistics can often be challenging.
"It's important that parents start discussing expectations around residency arrangements early and get some clear rules and boundaries set so no one feels left out.”
More than half of mothers wanted their ex-partner to have more contact with their children, but time restraints meant phone calls and video chats were easier.
After school clubs, socialising with friends and hobbies often interrupted the time dads felt they had with their children with a third reporting that the time they spent together wasn't quality time.
Two thirds of fathers felt that the law was biased towards mothers and that they lost out on the custody of their children they wanted as a result.
A combination of modern work pressures and balancing other family commitments was also a factor in having physical contact with their children.
A third of dads said their ex and living far away got in the way of seeing their children.
A third admitted their new families and partners also played a role in them seeing their children less.
Vicki McLynn, family lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: “It's important for arrangements to be revisited if necessary depending on what the child wants and needs and if circumstances change.
"If after school activities and hobbies are interrupting time spent with one parent then the arrangements should be looked at again.
“If a parent moves away, has more constraints on their time because of new partners or other children, these are all factor that need to be considered and custody arrangements need to be adapted accordingly.”
In some cases the relationship is so acrimonious 42 per cent of divorcees used technology as a way of avoiding contact with their ex-partner.
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