Portland State University. School of Social Work
Vincent Glaudin, Ph.D.
Date of Publication
Master of Social Work (MSW)
Divorce, Children of divorced parents
1 online resource (179 p.)
ORS 107.100 gives the court broad powers to secure the "best interests" of minor children as third parties to a divorce. Further, the Oregon Supreme Court has ruled in Tingen vs. Tingen that the best interests of a minor child involve a complex constellation of factors pertaining to the parents, the environment, and the adjustment of the child. It has been assumed in case law that "reasonable visitation" of the minor child by the non-custodial parent is usually in the best interests of the child and is a right" of the non-custodial parent.
Most judges order reasonable visitation as part of the divorce decree, especially in the vast number of default decrees. In some instances, specific visitation arrangements are ordered and custody counseling frequently helps to develop an acceptable visitation plan. The fact is, however, that little is known about reasonable visitation; the patterns which exist, the decision making process, and the impact of visitation on the best interests of the minor child.
The present exploratory study examined the feasibility of selecting and interviewing a representative sample of divorced parents with minor children in order to increase our understanding of visitation by the non-custodial parent. Two sampling studies were carried out, one in the Portland metropolitan area and one in Benton County. It was found that a significant sampling bias developed in contacting divorced parents when telephone listings provided the main system for tracing subjects. This bias was less pronounced for recent divorces.
Once actual contact was made with subjects, they tended to be cooperative in agreeing to be interviewed. Of those who agreed, twenty-four were selected to participate in a semi structured interview concerning visitation. It was determined on this admittedly small and biased sample, that "frequent" visitation meant about "once a week" for recently divorced couples; "twice a month", for those divorced three to five years. A striking finding was that the minor child played a significant role in determining the frequency and activities of visitation starting at about eight years of age and universally by ten years of age. There appeared to be more strife in the visitation arrangements of recently divorced parents, some of whom were still deeply involved in bids for reconciliation or vindictiveness.
The paper cautions against the assumption that promoting visitation is in the best interests of the minor child. Our state of knowledge counsels modesty in our advice. In regard to further research, two broad negative conclusions were reached: a) telephone listings do not provide a feasible means of securing a representative sample; b) a cross-sectional study involving parents divorced several years, introduces an extreme sample bias. It is recommended that a short term longitudinal strategy to be followed, possibly with cases selected from the court's docket prior to the divorce decree. A one-year longitudinal study would provide significant range of visitation patterns and opportunity to evaluate the impact of remarriage on visitation in a substantial number of cases. It would be important to include some systematic description of the minor child’s adjustment in order to relate visitation to the criterion of the "best interests" of the child.
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Griffith, Barbara; Hack, Gladys; Murphy, Eileen; Wieman, Allison; Williams, Adam; VanLydegraf, Earl; and Glaudin, Vincent, "Post-Divorce Visitation of Minor Children; An Exploratory Study" (1970). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1747.