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Parental Beliefs About Nonresident Fathers’ Obligations and Rights


Department of Sociology, Bowling Green State University, 217 Williams Hall, Bowling Green, OH 43403 (


We examine whether parents rely on principles of equity or equality in making judgments about nonresident fathers’ obligations and rights. The data are taken from the first wave of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. The analysis sample includes 4,304 new mothers and 3,414 new fathers. Results indicate that fathers perceive obligations and rights as independent concerns (equality principle), whereas mothers see obligations and rights as linked (equity principle). The findings raise questions about previous claims that women favor equality principles, whereas men favor equity principles. They also underscore the importance of considering gender differences in perceptions of fathers’ rights and obligations in designing effective child support and visitation policies.