Fathers' characteristics and their children's scores on college entrance exams: a comparison of intact and divorced families

Adolescence. Fall 1998;33(131):533-42.


Previous research shows that the educational performance of children may be impaired when their parents divorce. However, noncustodial fathers' postdivorce behavior, especially compliance with child support orders, can greatly offset educational disadvantages. The present study investigated the impact of fathers' behavior on their children's performance on college entrance examinations (CEEs) in a sample of 231 college students. Results indicated that, in intact families, fathers' ethnicity and income were related to CEE scores. Further, when these students perceived their fathers as encouraging and involved in their education, their scores were higher. For students with divorced parents, however, noncustodial fathers' ethnicity, income, encouragement, involvement, child support compliance, and visitation were not statistically linked to CEE performance. These findings suggest that joint custodial arrangements, which may enhance the social relationships between fathers and their children, may lead to improved educational outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • African Americans
  • Divorce*
  • Educational Measurement*
  • Educational Status
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Father-Child Relations
  • Fathers*
  • Humans
  • Income