Date of Conferral
Dr. Gregory Campbell
There is a disproportionate number of African American fathers in the State of Tennessee that experience parenting and child support disparities when compared to single parents of other ethnicities. The purpose of this general qualitative study was to examine the experiences of African American noncustodial fathers and to examine the impact of the codification of Tennessee family laws. The theoretical frameworks for this study were critical race theory, and social construction and policy design. The key research questions examined the lived experiences of African American noncustodial fathers in the State of Tennessee and how the codification of Tennessee family laws contributed to the social construction of African American noncustodial fathers. The general qualitative study included both phenomenological and historical techniques. The data was collected by in-depth interviews of 8 African American noncustodial fathers. The study resulted in 5 emergent themes: many were happy to become fathers; many have no relationship with their child's mother; child support negatively impacted their lives; child support is biased and unfair; and the fathers wanted more time with their children. The State of Tennessee and African American fathers will benefit from the study by replicating the research statewide. Specifically, the role of fathers will be increased, less adversarial co-parenting, and legislators will have scholarly research to show the issues with the laws. The implications for positive social change include lower crimes rates related to child support, increased graduation rates, and enhanced father-child time.