Caught between parents—

Searching for Online Divorce Groups for Teens & Young Adults

In the next few months will be trying to identify and examine online support groups for teens and young adults.  Our plan is to try to understand the more about how these work, their reach and their effectiveness.

Here is the first one on the list:

Please send us links or comments about other groups like this.

A Child’s Perspective on Divorce

Updated List of Divorce & Remarriage Research Listing for 2013

The list of some of the most important research studies related to divorce, remarriage and stepfamilies has been updated for the year 2013.  This is not a complete list, but the major studies that provide new insights into marriage formation, custody, law and so forth.

Similar summaries can be found for 2010, 2011, and 2012.

New results for 2014 are also summarized here.  

Program for Society for Research in Adolescence– SRA, 2014

There are very few presentations about divorce and single-parenthood at the bi-annual meetings of the Society for Research in Adolescence, but here are the four sessions I found listed on their program.

Thursday, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm (Event 1-024) Poster Session 02 Governor’s Ballroom, Floor 4 Thursday, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

# 16 Neighborhood Contributions to Positive Parenting and Youth Externalizing Problems in African American Single-Mother Families Jessica Cuellar, Deborah Jones, Stephanie Lane, Rex Forehand, Gene Brody (University of Georgia)

Thursday, 2:45 pm – 3:45 pm (Event 1-058) Poster Session 04 Governor’s Ballroom, Floor 4 Thursday, 2:45 pm – 3:45 pm

Coping with Parental Divorce: A Qualitative Exploration of Young Adults’ Retrospective Accounts  Marysia Lazinski, Marion Ehrenberg, Ashley Burbidge (University of Victoria)

Thursday, 4:15 pm – 5:15 pm (Event 1-076) Poster Session 05 Governor’s Ballroom, Floor 4 Thursday, 4:15 pm – 5:15 pm

# 62 Examining correlates of divorce attitudes: Gender, personality, relationship self-efficacy, and exposure to marital conflict  Dana Krieg (Kenyon College), Claire Greenfield, LeighAnne White, Emily Hage, Zoe Smith

Friday, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm (Event 2-024) Poster Session 06 Governor’s Ballroom, Floor 4 Friday, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

# 53 Women like SAHD Ben, but men don’t: Gender differences in emerging adults’ perceptions of family arrangements.  Dana Krieg (Kenyon College), Zoe Smith, Claire Greenfield, LeighAnne White, Emily Hage


Should infants sleep overnight with nonresidential fathers: The debate continues

One of the most complicated and often contentious issues for separating parents is whether or not very young children (under age 3) should spend the night in both households.  On the one hand, many advocates of continued father involvement encourage dads to stay involved and some of these dads want to keep their children overnight.  However, there is a growing body of scientific evidence that suggests that young children’s well-being may be adversely affected by frequent overnight stays for young children.

Samantha Tornello and colleagues (2013) published some important new evidence that suggests that frequent overnight stays by infants and toddlers with their non-reseidential fathers can contribute to insecure attachments.  (Note:  Attachment has been found to be a strong predictor of child and adult psychological adjustment and seems to be the foundation of positive relationships with others (See Bretherton, et al., 2011).  

In February 2014, Paul Millar and Edward Kruk published an article taking issue with some of the analyses and interpretations in the Tornello et al. paper.  Two of the authors of the original paper (Emery & Tornello, 2014) responded to the issues raised by Millar and Kruk.  Some of the critique by Millar and Kruk appears to be confusion about whether the findings.  Due to the mislabeling of a table (Table 5), Millar and Kruk interpreted these finding in the opposite direction of Tornello et al.  Many of their other criticisms such as the validity of the attachment measure and the limits of the sample are important and require careful interpretation of the findings, but await other evidence to determine whether these findings hold up.  At the moment 4 out 5 studies of this issue have found that overnight stays by infants and/or toddlers leads to attachment issues.

The one issue raised by Millar and Kruk that was not addressed by Emery and Tornello is the attachment of these children to other caregivers– the non-residential fathers, grandparents, child care providers, etc.  I have not looked carefully at the other information we know about the participants in the Fragile Families study, but these families were “fragile families.”  Could staying overnight with non-residential fathers represent the degree of chaos in the mothers’ household rather than “paternal involvement?”  How are the residents in the “father’s household”– grandparents or not? i don’t know the answers to these questions, but it would be good to find out more about these issues.

Finally, all of the studies to date have some limitations and this evidence cannot be described as definitive.  This is a complicated issue and no single study should be the basis for policy and practice by America’s court system, but this new work by Tornello and colleagues has provided a thoughtful analysis.  

For references and further reading on these issues see the following:   

Bretherton, I, Seligman, S, Solomon, J, Crowell, J. McIntosh, J. (2011). “If I could tell the judge something about attachment…” Perspectives on attachment theory in the family
law courtroom. Family Court Review, 49, 539-548.  doi: 10.1111/j.1744-1617.2011.01391.x

Emery, R. E., & Tornello, S. L. (2014). Rejoinder to Millar and Kruk (2014): Who assumes the burden of proof when there is no neutral null hypothesis? Journal of Marriage and Family, 76(1), 237-240. doi:10.1111/jomf.12070

George, C., Solomon, J. and McIntosh, J, (2011). Divorce in the Nursery: On infants and overnight care. Family Court Review, 49, 521-529. doi:  10.1111/j.1744-1617.2011.01389.x

McIntosh, J., Smyth, B., Kelaher, M., Wells, Y., & Long, C. (2010). Post-separation parenting arrangements and developmental outcomes for infants and children. Canberra, Australia: Attorney General’s Department.

Millar, P., & Kruk, E. (2014). Maternal attachment, paternal overnight contact, and very young children’s adjustment: Comment on Tornello et al. (2013). Journal of Marriage and Family, 76(1), 232-236. doi:10.1111/jomf.12071 

Solomon, J., & George, C. (1999). The development of attachment in separated and divorced families: Effects of overnight visitation, parent, and couple variables. Attachment and Human Development, 1, 2-33.  doi:  10.1080/14616739900134011

Solomon, J., & George, C. (1999). The effects of overnight visitation in divorced and separated families: A longitudinal follow-up. In J. Solomon & C. George (Eds.), Attachment Disorganization (pp. 243-264). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Tornello, S. L., Emery, R., Rowen, J., Potter, D., Ocker, B. and Xu, Y. (2013), Overnight Custody Arrangements, Attachment, and Adjustment Among Very Young Children. Journal of Marriage and Family, 75, 871–885. doi: 10.1111/jomf.12045

Effects of divorce on children– new report

Professor Paul Amato has done some of the best work on how divorce effects children. This report he examines two large data sets and found that while there is clear evidence of divorce having adverse effects on children, the results “revealed a substantial degree of variability in children’s outcomes following parental divorce, with some children declining, others improving, and most not changing at all. The estimated effects of divorce appeared to be strongest among children with the highest propensity to experience parental divorce.” (from abstract).

Amato, P. R., & Anthony, C. J. (2014). Estimating the effects of parental divorce and death with fixed effects models. Journal of Marriage and Family, 76(2), 370-386. doi:10.1111/jomf.12100

New Research Articles on Divorce–Jan & Feb., 2014

A complete list of the major articles published in 2014 with links to other articles.  Complete list of articles from 2010-2015. 

Divorce continues to be an important area of family and social science research.  Below are a few of the studies published in the early part of 2014 that provide insight into divorce issues.  Included in this summary are demographic, economic, causes of divorce, adjustment issues for adults and children, divorce education, marriage & relationship education, non-residential parenting and a new report on custody and shared parenting.

Demographic Issues

Bellido, H., & Marcén, M.Divorce laws and fertility. Labour Economics, (0) doi:

Kennedy, S., & Ruggles, S. (2014). Breaking up is hard to count: The rise of divorce in the united states, 1980-2010. Demography, , 1-12.

Kulu, H. (2014). Marriage duration and divorce: The seven-year itch or a lifelong itch? Demography, , 1-13.

Divorce & Economics– Especially the Recession

Baghestani, H., & Malcolm, M. (2014). Marriage, divorce and economic activity in the US: 1960-2008. Applied Economics Letters, , 528-532. doi:

Cohen, P. (2014). Recession and divorce in the united states, 2008-2011. Population Research and Policy Review, 1-14.

Causes of Divorce

Røsand, G. B., Slinning, K., Røysamb, E., & Tambs, K. (2014). Relationship dissatisfaction and other risk factors for future relationship dissolution: A population-based study of 18,523 couples. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 49(1), 109-119. doi:

Adult Adjustment to Divorce

Kulik, L., & Kasa, Y. (2014). Adjustment to divorce: A comparison of ethiopian immigrant and israeli-born men. Journal of Community Psychology, 42(2), 191-208.

Children’s Adjustment to Divorce

Mandemakers, J. J., & Kalmijn, M. (2014). Do mother’s and father’s education condition the impact of parental divorce on child well-being? Social Science Research, 44(0), 187-199. doi:

Non-residential & Shared Parenting Issues

Finzi-Dottan, R., & Cohen, O. (2014). Predictors of parental communication and cooperation among divorcing spouses. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23(1), 39-51. doi:

Modecki, K. L., Hagan, M. J., Sandler, I., & Wolchik, S. A. (2014). Latent profiles of nonresidential father engagement six years after divorce predict long-term offspring outcomes. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, , 1-14.

Rodriguez, S. R. (2014). “We’ll only see parts of each other’s lives:” the role of mundane talk in maintaining nonresidential parent–child relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,

Aging, Intergenerational Issues and Divorce

Cooney, T. M., Proulx, C. M., Snyder-Rivas, L., & Benson, J. J. (2014). Role ambiguity among women providing care for ex-husbands. Journal of Women & Aging, 26(1), 84-104.

Ganong, L., & Coleman, M. (2014). Responsibility inferences and intergenerational obligations to parents and stepparents: Are Step/Children less obligated when older adults are at fault for their problems? Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 55(1), 64-81. doi:10.1080/10502556.2013.862098

Stepfamily Issues

Doodson, L. J., & Davies, A. P. C. (2014). Different challenges, different well-being: A comparison of psychological well-being across stepmothers and biological mothers and across four categories of stepmothers. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 55(1), 49-63.

Marriage & Relationship Education

Cordova, J. V. (2014). Findings and future directions for marriage checkup research. Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association, Washington, DC. doi:

Cordova, J. V. (2014). The marriage checkup practitioner’s guide: Promoting lifelong relationship health. Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association, Washington, DC. doi:

Divorce Education

Stallman, H. M., & Sanders, M. R. (2014). A randomized controlled trial of family transitions triple P: A group-administered parenting program to minimize the adverse effects of parental divorce on children. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 55(1), 33-48.

Legal Issues and Divorce Services 

Pruett, M. K., & DiFonzo, J. H. (2014).  Closing the Gap: Research, Policy, Practice and Shared Parenting AFCC Think Tank Final Report to be published in Family Court Review

Research Methods for Divorce Research

Lamela, D., Figueiredo, B., Bastos, A., & Martins, H. (2014). Psychometric properties of the portuguese version of the posttraumatic growth inventory short form among divorced adults. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 30(1), 3-14. doi:

Other Summaries of divorce research for 2010,  2011, 2012, 2013 

Qualitative Insights into Divorce’s Impact on Children

November 8, 2013 Time:   2:30 pm – 4:00 pm  Bowie A

Maintaining Intergenerational Stepkin Relations in Divorced Families

Presented by: Caroline Sanner, Ashton Chapman, Luke Russell, Lawrence Ganong, Marilyn Coleman

Remarriages have higher divorce rates than first marriages, suggesting that children may experience multiple stepfamily transitions. Little is known about how families navigate ex-stepkin relationships resulting from these transitions. Given the demonstrated importance of stepgrandparent/stepgrandchild relationships in remarried families, our grounded theory study seeks to explore relationship maintenance strategies with ex-stepgrandparents employed by stepgrandchildren following parental divorce. 13 former stepchildren were interviewed and common themes were identified. Preliminary results indicate that stepgrandchild’s age, steprelationship length, relationship quality, and presence of biological grandparents impacted young adults’ decisions to maintain contact with ex-stepgrandparents post-divorce.

Negotiating Nonresidential Parent-child Relationships in Emerging Adulthood

Presented by: Richard Feistman, Marilyn Coleman, Lawrence Ganong

The well-being of emerging adults’ (ages 18 to 25) often relies on the emotional and financial support provided by their parents. However, relationships between emerging adults and their divorced parents, particularly their nonresidential parents, are fragile. Our grounded theory study will result in a model of the processes involved in forming or maintaining relationships between emerging adults and their nonresidential parents. Preliminary results from 32 participants indicate that emerging adults’ often control levels of contact. Several factors, such as attitudes on family ties, influence the degree of contact emerging adults have with nonresidential parents.

Custody Arrangement Decisions Among Divorcing or Separating Parents

Presented by: Jaimee Hartenstein, Melinda Stafford Markham

A secondary qualitative data analysis of a database of interviews from a previous grounded theory study of 30 participants was conducted. This study investigated how divorced or separated parents determine the custody arrangements for their children. Four categories emerged from the data including no court involvement, agreement decided by couple to be included in divorce decree, court ordered arrangement, and custody changed over time. The findings suggest that there is a great deal of variation in the custody arrangements among divorcing or separating parents. There is not a universal arrangement that will be suitable for all divorcing or separating parents.

Custody Arrangement Decisions among Divorcing or Separating Parents

Young Adults’ Socialization Narratives After Parental Divorce

Presented by: Mick Cunningham, Kelly Skillingstead

Despite the enormous body of evidence investigating parental influences on children, we know remarkably little about how people think and talk about socialization processes. The current study focuses on young adults’ narrative explanations of how they perceive they were affected by their parents’ divorce. Results show that many young adults 1) believe that their parents have modeled behavior that the offspring hope to avoid in their own marriages, 2) lament the absence of effective relationship modeling, and 3) suggest they will themselves act in ways that are opposite of the behaviors they observed in their parents’ marriages.

Downloads: Young Adults’ Socialization Narratives after Parental Divorce


Should I Try and Work on My Marriage or Just Get Divorced?

This is a tough question that faces many couples during their marriage.  There are many issues to consider and it is not always easy to find helpful advice.  Alan Hawkins and his colleagues from Brigham Young University have written a very thoughtful guide to help couples think through this process.

They include helpful activities that either (or both) partners can do to get a realistic assessment of where they are.  Hawkins and colleagues also provide information about the effects of divorce on children and adults.

This is a valuable resource for couples.