Document Type




Format of Original

12 p.

Publication Date



Alliance for Children and Families

Source Publication

Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1606/1044-3894.90


This pilot study combined narrative and quantitative data to explore the factors enabling and motivating single African American fathers to take full custody of one or more of their children. The size and selection of the sample does not allow for generalization, since most of the men were college-educated and financially stable. The findings indicated a distinction between enabling and motivating factors. Factors that appeared to enable full custody included employment and secure housing, as they were present for all of the fathers before they took custody. Adult age at the time of their first child’s birth was also a factor for 9 of the 10 fathers. Prior parental involvement, previous marital status, and maternal incompetence did not appear to be highly associated with the choice to take custody. However, the narrative data indicated that the desire to embody the kind of father they themselves did not have was a strong motivating factor.


Published version. Families in Society, Vol. 84, No. 2 (2003): 247-258. DOI. © 2003 Alliance for Children and Families. Reprinted with permission from Families in Society (, published by the Alliance for Children and Families.