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12 strategies to better support fathers during marital separation

MONTREAL, JUNE 10, 2024 – With today’s launch of the Semaine Québécoise de la Paternité, the Comité de travail national sur les pères et la séparation conjugale (CTNPSC), set up by Regroupement pour la Valorisation de la Paternité (RVP), unveils 12 strategies to better support fathers during marital separation as well as the results of a brand-new survey on the reality of separated fathers.

According to this committee of experts, fathers and mothers do not always react to a breakup and its aftermath in the same way; as a result, their support needs too are often different. Consequently, the group looked at the needs of separated fathers in terms of both legal and psychosocial support. “We want a smoother transition for separating mothers and fathers and, above all, we want their children to continue to benefit from the caring presence of both parents. Our focus is on coparenting and gender equality,” stated Raymond Villeneuve, executive director of RVP.

“I’ll always be there for you”

Maintaining the father-child bond and coparenting cooperation are at the core of fathers’ concerns in times of separation. The exclusive Leger survey commissioned by the CTNPSC of 574 fathers who had experienced a marital separation in the past 10 years found that, at the time of the breakup, fathers’ greatest concerns were the amount of time spent with their children (for 73% of them), the stability of their children’s routines, (73%), and the quality of their relationship with their children (72%). Next came the question of collaboration with the other parent (69%), and, in fifth place only, financial issues (68%).

The face of marital separation is changing

The survey paints a far more nuanced picture of the father’s experience of marital separation than the one people are most apt to imagine. First of all, separations are by no means always conflictual. Overall, 68% of fathers say their separation went very well or rather well. The image of the “weekend dad” also appears outdated, as 56% of survey respondents have joint custody of their children and 11% have sole custody. Separations often occur early in fathers’ lives: 72% of those surveyed had preschool-aged children at the time of their separation. The coparenting relationship is more often positive than negative, with 59% of fathers indicating that, in the event of a dispute, they manage to get along with the other parent.

Furthermore, for many fathers, separation does not necessarily mean a deterioration in their relationship with their children. Rather, 47% of fathers surveyed said the relationship with their children improved after the separation, while 36% said it remained the same, and only 17% said it deteriorated.

The importance of valuing the paternal role

While the majority of fathers go through separation without too much trouble, one in 10 reports a very negative experience. Tamarha Pierce, a psychology professor at Université Laval who collaborated on survey design and analysis stated: “A detailed analysis of the survey data shows that a particularly negative perception of the separation experience among fathers is associated with a feeling of not having been involved in key decisions, of not having felt adequately supported during the process, or with a feeling that their point of view was not taken into account and that their role as a father was not recognized and valued by all concerned.” She added “We also found that these fathers were more likely to have sole custody of their children after separation.”
Pay particular attention to the vulnerability of certain fathers
The committee was also concerned about the particular challenges faced by low-income or unemployed fathers. “The financial cost of separation can exacerbate the vulnerabilities of some fathers, who have less ready access to justice or who may find themselves in a situation where they cannot afford to welcome their child in a suitable environment. This jeopardizes their ability to maintain their bond with them, and can give rise to a certain sense of injustice,” said Villeneuve.

12 concrete strategies

The 12 strategies proposed by the CTNPSC aim to improve public policies and practices in various settings in response to the specific needs of fathers. They include improved access to family mediation, greater use of collaborative law, and better training of legal professionals in father-inclusive practices. They also suggest that psychosocial workers be better equipped to intervene with men and fathers, and that community support for fathers in difficulty be expanded as part of a Quebec-wide strategy. Finally, they focus on improving the living conditions of more vulnerable fathers, addressing the specific needs of fathers coming from a range of backgrounds (involving immigration, gender issues, Indigenous cultures), mobilizing workplaces, advancing research, and implementing a Quebec-wide awareness campaign.

For more information on the Comité de travail national sur les pères et la séparation conjugale, consult the proposals document and the survey report:

About the Comité de travail national sur les pères et la séparation conjugale (CTNPSC)

Set up by Regroupement pour la Valorisation de la Paternité (RVP), the committee’s mandate is to examine the issues specific to the needs of fathers during marital separation and to formulate recommendations for the advancement of public policies and the practices of various stakeholders with a view to better meeting these needs. The committee comprises legal experts, researchers, and community groups providing services for vulnerable or separated fathers.

About Regroupement pour la Valorisation de la Paternité

RVP is a group of 250 organizations and individuals from all regions of Quebec whose mandate is to promote father engagement for the well-being of children, with a focus on the family, and with respect for gender equality. RVP’s objective is to enable the integration of father-inclusive practices into family services and public policies in Quebec.

“I’ll always be there for you. Before, during, and after our separation.”
12th edition of the Semaine Québécoise de la Paternité

The 12th edition of the Semaine Québécoise de la Paternité takes place June 10 to 16, 2024 on the theme “I’ll always be there for you. Before, during, and after our separation.” The aim of this theme is to make Quebec society aware of the importance of better supporting fathers during marital separation, so that they can be more present with their children and enjoy a better coparenting experience.


For more information or for interviews:
Sandrine Gagné
Morin Relations Publiques
Cell phone: 438-873-2909