A reason for the unmet needs of children in contact with social services? Non-resident fathers’ perspectives on delinquent child maintenance claims

Victoria Awortwe, Hajara Bentum, Ebenezer Cudjoe, Alhassan Abdullah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Often times, during (after) divorce or separation, fathers in Ghana are reported to the Department of Social Welfare for not honouring their child maintenance obligations. Social workers at the Department of Social Welfare make arrangements with the non-resident fathers to ensure that they perform their financial obligations. Yet, evidence suggests that many fathers do not meet the obligations to make the financial contributions, potentially placing the wellbeing of vulnerable children in single parent families at risk. 

Objective: The study sought to explore the underlining reasons why fathers in Ghana do not meet their child maintenance obligations. The study hopes to develop some understanding about ways to appropriately provide support for children in families facing delinquent child maintenance cases. 

Participants and setting: Thirteen non-resident fathers (ages 19–50 years) in contact with the Department of Social Welfare took part in the study. 

Methods: Data from in-depth interviews with the 13 participants were coded following strategies from the constructivist grounded theory. The coding process was managed with NVivo 12 qualitative software. 

Results: Matrilineal inheritance, stressful interfamilial relations, poverty and unemployment were the main reasons reported by fathers as contributing to their defaulting child maintenance. The study shows that cultural values, extended family members’ opinions and attitudes towards non-resident fathers have significant impact on payment decisions. 

Conclusion: The findings highlight the need to challenge the negative implications of cultural beliefs and practices, and orient parents on their mandatory responsibilities towards children. In view of the cultural influence, we advocate for the adoption of a multi-perspective where both patrikin and matrikin are integrated in particular families irrespective of ethnic origins. The adoption of this perspective should begin with an acknowledgement among family members to prioritise the wellbeing of their children over cultural discourses which could serve as hindrances to child wellbeing. Social workers should have an understanding of these cultural values and the implications on the wellbeing of children in families with delinquent child maintenance cases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105298
Number of pages8
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Early online date31 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Children in single parent families
  • Cultural beliefs
  • Delinquent child maintenance
  • Ghana
  • Non-resident fathers


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