What the Experts SaySummary
1. Purpose and Goals
2. Methodological Issues
4. Implications for Washington State and the Parenting Act
5. What the Experts Say About Joint Physical Custody: Quotes From Leading Divorce Researchers
In late spring 1998, the Washington State Supreme Court Gender and Justice Commission and the Domestic Relations Commission began a study of the Washington State Parenting Act. This report presents information from one of four parts of that study, namely a review of scholarly research concerning post-divorce parenting and child well-being.
The review provides a general summary of the scholarly research literature. It is not intended to establish a single standard for post-divorce parenting in Washington State.
A search of major bibliographic databases identified research articles for inclusion in the review. The review was limited to peer-reviewed research published in or after 1985. All research utilized direct measures of actual parenting behavior and child well-being. Studies were evaluated based on sample quality, study design, and use of controls and statistical techniques. Studies using probability samples, prospective, longitudinal designs, with necessary control variables and appropriate statistical techniques were judged more compelling.
The evidence reviewed here does not reveal any particular post-divorce residential schedule to be most beneficial for children. There are no significant advantages to children of joint physical custody, but also no significant disadvantages to children of joint physical custody or of any other post-divorce residential schedule.
The weight of evidence does not support the view that higher levels of child-nonresidential father contact are automatically or always beneficial to children. However, the weight of evidence also does not suggest that, absent parental conflict, high levels of child-nonresidential parent contact are harmful to children.
Parental conflict is a major source of reduced well-being among children of divorce. Research indicates that joint physical custody and frequent child-nonresidential parent contact have adverse consequences for children in high-conflict situations. Joint physical custody and frequent child-nonresidential parent contact do not promote parental cooperation.
Increased nonresidential parents' involvement in their children's lives may enhance child well-being by improving the economic support of children. This conclusion only holds if child support decisions are made independent of residential time decisions, and continuing nonresidential parent involvement does not expose children to continuing parental conflict.
One of the research questions developed by the Gender and Justice and the Domestic Relations Commissions focuses on the impact of post-divorce parenting patterns on child well-being, specifically posing the question:
Does shared parenting improve the well-being of children post-divorce relative to children raised under other post-divorce parenting arrangements?
It is not feasible for the Commissions to undertake an original study of the impact of post-divorce parenting arrangements on child well-being. Instead, the Commissions determined to prepare a review of currently available scholarly research on the topic.
It is hoped that a rigorous, systematic, and methodologically critical review of current scholarly research on post-divorce parenting and child well-being will inform current debates in Washington State about what post-divorce parenting arrangements may best serve the interests of Washington State's children.
It is NOT the purpose of this review to establish a single standard or "best" post-divorce parenting arrangement for Washington State. The results of social and behavioral research are necessarily generalizations and should not be automatically applied to individual families. These generalizations may usefully inform the choices of individual families and the way legislation is framed. However, the circumstances of each family are unique, and recognition of their unique circumstances is central to making good post-divorce parenting choices. Moreover, as will be discussed below, the leading experts in the field agree that "one size fits all" approaches to developing post-divorce parenting arrangements are inappropriate and may be harmful to some families.
Research on the effects of post-divorce parenting arrangements on child well-being is fraught with methodological difficulties, and many of the available studies suffer from severe limitations. In order to address these problems, a number of criteria were developed for the inclusion of studies in the review of scholarly research and for the weight accorded to study findings in the review.
The review is limited to studies that have successfully completed the rigorous process of peer review used by scholarly research journals. In this process anonymous reviewers who do not know the identity of a study's author(s) review research papers. Authors receive extensive comments on their work, and are usually required to make revisions before a paper is accepted for publication. All journals require at least one review, and the most prestigious may solicit as many as six reviews. Eventual acceptance rates for research journals vary from as high as 70 percent to as low as 10 percent for the most prestigious journals.
The peer review process ensures that papers with significant methodological errors, flawed interpretations, or inaccurate reporting of earlier research results are not published and widely disseminated. Thus, by limiting the review to peer-reviewed publications, only the most reliable research findings are included in the results.
Limiting the review to peer-reviewed studies excludes some research, notably unpublished doctoral dissertations and masters theses, and unpublished conference papers. This exclusion is appropriate for several reasons. First, unpublished studies have not been subject to the same rigorous scrutiny as peer-reviewed studies. Second, dissertations, theses, and conference papers are often "works in progress" and may be subject to a great deal of revision before they are eventually published. The best studies of this sort eventually find their way into peer-reviewed outlets, once all the problems have been ironed out. For example, Stephens (1996) began life as a University of Washington MA Thesis.
ii. Publication after 1985
Because of the peer-review process, there is necessarily a lag between the time when data were collected and the publication of research findings. Thus, utilizing research published before 1985 usually implies relying on data collected in the 1970s or even earlier.
Relying on older data would not be a problem if the circumstances of divorcing families had remained constant over the past 30 or 40 years. However this is not the case.
iii. Direct Measurement of Both Post-divorce Parenting and Child Well-being
The review is limited to studies that include direct measures of both post-divorce parenting and child well-being.
Although it might seem obvious that to draw conclusions about the association between post-divorce parenting and child well-being, it is necessary to have measures of both, many studies lack these measures.
Some studies fail to adequately measure or define post-divorce parenting arrangements, using imprecise terms such as "joint custody" or "shared parenting" without specifying exactly what is involved in these arrangements. Research has shown that there is often little correspondence between actual living arrangements and the living arrangements specified in court papers (Clark et al. 1988). Therefore, it is crucial that actual living arrangements are assessed, not simply court orders. Studies that confuse joint legal custody with joint physical custody, and erroneously assume that joint legal custody implies joint physical custody (e.g. Bowman and Ahrons 1985; Burnett 1991) are, for the same reasons, also not included in this review.
Other studies fail to adequately assess child well-being post-divorce, relying on parents' reports, or utilizing parents' reports of their own well-being or satisfaction with post-divorce parenting arrangements (e.g. Arditti 1992a,b; Hanson 1985; Schrier et al. 1991). Other studies use measures that are only tangentially related to child well-being, such as children's perceptions of who is a member of their family (e.g. Isaacs et al. 1987). Studies that lack measures of child well-being are not included in this review.
Wherever possible only original, primary research studies are included in this review. This avoids reliance on second-hand reporting of research findings.
A compete bibliography of research reviewed is attached (section 6). Citations are also provided for relevant review articles and edited books.
A probability sample is a sample with known statistical properties that make it possible to generalize from the sample to the broader population from which the sample is drawn. A simple random sample is the most common form of probability sample. Probability samples designed to study child well-being may be nationally or locally representative, and may include children of all ages, races, etc., or be limited to children from specific demographic groups.
The large scale national samples used by researchers such as McLanahan and Sandefur (1994), Furstenberg and Cherlin (1991), and King (1994a,b) are all examples of probability surveys. So, too, are the local samples used by Amato (1994), Buchanan et al. (1996), Maccoby and Mnookin (1994), and Seltzer and Garfinkle (1990), among others.
Probability samples tend to be quite large, usually numbering several hundred, and sometimes several thousand cases. These large sample sizes support the inclusion of adequate controls in all analyses (see 2.c.iii. below). However, very large sample sizes are prone to finding "statistically significant effects" merely by chance. Moreover, even with very large sample sizes only a few cases of uncommon parenting arrangements will be included in the sample.
Nonprobability samples may be collected in a variety of ways. Nonprobability samples do not represent any particular population and should never be generalized. Widely used examples of nonprobability samples in post-divorce parenting research are snowball samples (often generated from parents' memberships in various organizations), clinic samples, college student samples.
Nonprobability samples dominate research about post-divorce parenting. Well-known examples include the samples used by Arditti (1992), Luepnitz (1991), Shrier et al. (1991), Johnston et al. (1991), and Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1989).
The main advantage of nonprobability samples is that they can be targeted at unusual groups. However, because of the tendency to target unusual groups, these samples are not generalizable.
Nonprobability samples tend to be small. For example, Luepnitz (1986) includes only 42 families, and Arditii (1992a,b) includes only 125 families. In addition, nonprobability samples often have very poor response rates. In Arditti's research, only around one third of those contacted agreed to participate in the study, compared to response rates of close to 80 percent in major national studies.
ii. Longitudinal Study Designs Are Preferred to Cross-Sectional Study Designs
Longitudinal study designs follow families over time so that parenting arrangements and child well-being may be tracked as they evolve. This approach allows for multiple measures of parenting arrangements and child well-being, and allows for the identification of the causal direction of any association between parenting arrangements and child well-being. Longitudinal studies also facilitate the inclusion of appropriate control variables (see 2.c.iii. below).
The best longitudinal studies are prospective; that is, they follow families forward through time with repeated interviews. Examples of this approach include Buchanan et al. (1996), Maccoby and Mnookin (1994), Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1989), and studies utilizing the National Survey of Families and Households, the National Survey of Children, The Panel Study of Income Dynamics, and the National Longitudinal Sample of Youth. The following authors have utilized these samples: Allison and Furstenberg (1989), Amato (1996), Baydar (1988), Block et al. (1986, 1988), Cherlin et al. (1991, 1995), Eggebeen et al. (1996), Furstenberg and Nord (1985), Furstenberg et al. (1987), King (1994a,b).
Some longitudinal studies are retrospective; that is, individuals are asked to recall earlier events and circumstances so that they may be used to predict later outcomes. This approach is acceptable where the items being recalled are highly salient and may be recalled with a high degree of accuracy (e.g. were your parents divorced, how old were you when they divorced). This approach has been successfully used by Lye et al. (1995) and forms the basis of much of the work in McLanahan and Sandefur (1994).
However, research with prospective data sets has shown that retrospective reports are not reliable for many types of information, especially information with a highly normative or emotional content. Thus, reliable reports of pre-divorce conflict or of an outside father's involvement may not be gathered using retrospective techniques.
Cross-sectional studies collect data referring to only one point in time. These studies are limited because it is not possible to determine the causal sequence of various events and outcomes and because they can not capture the dynamic nature of family relationships and child developmental processes. For example, the level and type of interparental conflict appears to be a key mediator in the association between outside father involvement and child well-being (Amato and Rezac 1994; Kelly 1993; Buchanan et al. 1996) and conflict between divorced parents often diminishes over time (Maccoby and Mnookin 1994). Thus, the associations between father involvement and child well-being may vary over time. All these dynamic relationships would be inadequately captured in cross-sectional data.
iii. Studies that Control for Confounding Variables Are Preferred to Studies Without Controls
Associations between post-divorce parenting arrangements and child well-being may arise because confounding variables influence both post-divorce parenting and child well-being.
For example, father's education is an important influence on a wide variety of indicators of child well-being; child well-being tends to be higher among the children of more highly educated fathers. Father's education is also an important influence on post-divorce parenting. More highly educated fathers are more likely to have joint physical custody arrangements, tend to see their children more often, and tend to be more involved in their children's lives (Arditti 1992a,b; Donelly and Finkelhor 1993; Fox and Kelly 1995; Mott 1990; Seltzer 1991a; Stephens 1996). Thus, in studies of the impact of nonresidential fathers' involvement on child well-being, it is essential to control for the level of the father's education. Otherwise we can not be sure that any benefit of greater father involvement it not actually due to higher educational attainment among more highly involved fathers.
Similar confounding relationships exist for a number of other variables, including mother's and father's psychological well-being and measures of socioeconomic status.
Thus, it is necessary to control for a wide variety of potentially confounding variables when assessing the association between post-divorce parenting and child well-being. Typical controls include mother's and father's characteristics, such as psychological well-being, age, race/ethnicity, education, income, age at marriage, as well as child characteristics, such as age and gender.
Research using prospective, longitudinal data indicates that many of the differences in child well-being observed between children of divorce and children raised in intact families are present well before the parents' divorce (Block et al. 1986, 1988; Cherlin et al. 1991; Elliot and Richards 1991). This finding, that children whose parents will subsequently divorce are often doing less well than their counterparts whose parents will remain together, implies that it is also desirable for studies of post-divorce parenting and child well-being to control for the well-being of children prior to divorce.
Additionally, numerous studies show that child well-being is adversely impacted by parental conflict (Amato 1993a; Amato and Keith 1991a,b; Amato and Rezac 1994; Camera and Resnick 1989; Conger et al. 1997; Hanson et al. 1996; Jekielek 1998; Johnston et al. 1989; Kline et al. 1991). Parental conflict may also influence post-divorce parenting arrangements. For example, The Washington State Parenting Act provides that shared parenting arrangements are inappropriate in high conflict situations. Since parental conflict can influence both post-divorce parenting and child well-being, it is necessary to control for levels of conflict (preferably measured prior to child well-being) in studies that relate child well-being to post-divorce parenting arrangements.
iv. Studies That Use Appropriate Statistical Techniques Are Preferred to Studies with Poorer Methodology
Some studies do not deal adequately with the methodological challenges that arise in the course of assessing the association between post-divorce parenting and child well-being. Common problems include failure to deal with categorical and non-numeric measurement, poor specification of statistical models, and failure to test for complex, interactive associations.
i. Child Well-being Post-divorce
Although in the 1970s some experts were quite sanguine about the impact of divorce on children, by the mid-1980s there was a clear consensus among researchers that divorce can have very serious consequences for children's well-being.
Compared to children from intact families, children of divorce are more likely to experience:
However, these relationships are not deterministic. Not all children of divorce experience all, or any, of these problems. For example, in one study of children from high conflict families (who are thought to suffer the severest adverse impacts), over 80 percent of the children scored within normal limits on standard tests of psychological and mental health functioning (Johnston et al. 1989).
The largest deficits appear to be in the areas of educational attainment and teen childbearing. For example, McLanahan and Sandefur (1994) report that in four different national samples roughly 57-61 percent of offspring from two-parent families attended at least one year of college compared to 48-54 percent of offspring from one-parent families. In the same samples, 11-22 percent of young women from two-parent families became teen mothers compared to 27-34 percent of young women from one-parent families.
As noted earlier, prospective longitudinal studies, using large nationally representative data sets, reveal that many of the problems experienced by children of divorce are observable several years before the divorce (Block, Block and Gjerde 1986, 1988; Elliot and Richards 1991; Cherlin et al. 1991).
ii. Factors Affecting Child Well-being Post-divorce
As noted above, the impact of divorce on children is not uniform--some children suffer greater adverse consequences than others. Several factors have been shown to influence how well or poorly children fare after divorce.
It is important to recognize that, for any particular family seeking to maximize the well-being of children, there may be trade-offs among these factors. For example, the adverse impact of a move may be offset if it enhances the financial stability of the primary residential parent, or improves his or her psychological functioning by allowing him or her to be closer to supportive kin networks.
iii. Typical Post-divorce Parenting Patterns
Until the early to mid-1980s, by far the predominant pattern was for mothers to receive custody (legal and physical) of children after divorce and for fathers to receive limited visitation. In addition, research conducted in the 1970s and early 1980s documented a pattern of widespread disengagement from their children's lives by noncustodial fathers.
One widely cited study, using nationally representative data, reported that around one half of all divorced fathers had effectively lost contact with their children within a few years of the divorce. The same study reported that those divorced fathers who did remain in contact with their children often fell into the role of "friend" rather than assuming responsibility for their child or serving as an active coparent (Furstenberg and Nord 1985).
More recent data suggest that these patterns are changing:
But despite these changes:
With this background and the methodological issues discussed above in mind, I now turn to research dealing directly with the impact of post-divorce parenting arrangements on child well-being. Broadly, this research is of two types: studies which have compared child well-being among families with different physical custody arrangements, and studies which have assessed the impact of variations in nonresidential fathers' involvement with their children on their children's well-being. Each of these types of study is discussed separately below.
Two of the studies found benefits of joint physical custody. Three of the studies found no differences in child well-being between joint physical custody and sole physical custody families.
i. Studies Reporting Benefits of Joint Physical Custody
ii. Studies Reporting No Effect of Joint Physical Custody
Johnston et al. 1989:
Kline et al. 1989:
Buchanan et al. 1991, 1996:
Donnelly and Finkelhor 1992:
The evidence reviewed here does not reveal any particular post-divorce residential schedule to be most beneficial for children.
The weight of evidence, bearing in mind both the numbers of studies finding benefits and not finding benefits, as well as the quality of the samples and methods employed, suggests that there are no significant advantages to children of joint physical custody.
However, the evidence also does not suggest significant disadvantages to children of joint physical custody, or of any other post-divorce residential schedule.
Four studies report benefits of higher levels of nonresidential father's involvement. Six studies report no effects of higher levels of nonresidential father's involvement. Two studies report adverse effects of higher levels of nonresidential father's involvement.
i. Studies Reporting Beneficial Effects of Higher Levels of Nonresidential Father's Involvement on Children's Well-being
Bisnaire et al. 1990; MacKinnon 1989; Southworth and Schwarz 1987:
Guidlabaldi et al. 1987:
ii. Studies Reporting No Effects of Higher Levels of Nonresidential Father's Involvement on Children's Well-being
Argys et al. 1998; Furstenberg et al. 1987; King 1994a,b:
Healy et al. 1990; Kalter et al. 1989:
iii. Studies Reporting Detrimental Effects of Higher Levels of Nonresidential Father's Involvement on Children's Well-being
Johnston et al. 1989:
Among the highest-quality studies reviewed here (Argys et al. 1998; Baydar 1988; Furstenberg et al. 1987; Guidlabaldi et al. 1987; King 1994a,b), only one finds higher child well-being among children who have more contact with their nonresidential father; four find no impact of the level of contact with the nonresidential father; and one finds reduced well-being among children who have more contact with their nonresidential father.
Among the smaller, more limited studies reviewed here (Bisnaire et al. 1990; Healy et al. 1990; Johnston et al. 1989; Kalter et al. 1989; MacKinnon 1989; Southworth and Schwarz 1987), three find higher levels of child well-being among children who have more contact with their nonresidential father, two find no impact of the level of contact with the nonresidential father, and one finds reduced well-being among children who have more contact with their nonresidential father.
Given the very serious limitations of some of the studies reviewed here, and the criteria for evaluating study findings set out in 2.c. above, greatest weight must be placed on the findings from the high-quality studies.
Thus, the weight of evidence does not support the view that higher levels of child-nonresidential father contact are automatically or always beneficial to children.
However, the weight of evidence also does not suggest that, absent parental conflict (see 3.d.i. below), high levels of child-nonresidential parent contact are harmful to children.
i. Conflict 2 Evidence from two high-quality studies suggests that high levels of child-nonresidential father contact is beneficial to children in low conflict families but harmful to children in high conflict families
Amato and Rezac 1994:
Buchanan et al. 1991, 1996:
Two smaller studies (Healy et al. 1990; Kurdek 1988) report the opposite finding, namely, that frequent child-nonresidential father contact is most beneficial in high conflict families. However, both these studies rely on small nonprobability samples, and are, therefore, not as compelling as the two larger studies.
Researchers have also speculated that joint physical custody and high levels of child-nonresidential parent contact may provoke conflict resulting in reduced child well-being. Consistent with this view, one study reported more frequent relitigation among families with joint physical custody (Koel et al. 1994).
However, three other studies report that dual residence and frequent child-nonresidential parent contact does not appear to provoke increased conflict between parents (Donnelly and Finkelhor 1992; Maccoby, Depner and Mnookin 1990; Maccoby and Mnookin 1994).
In addition, adolescents in dual residence families are not more likely to feel "caught" between their parents (Maccoby, Depner and Mnookin 1990; Maccoby and Mnookin 1994).
However, just as dual residence and frequent child-nonresidential parent contact does not appear to provoke parental conflict, it also does not lead to reduced levels of conflict or promote parental cooperation. Highly conflicted parents tend to remain in conflict or disengage from each other. They do not become low conflict, cooperative parents (Maccoby, Depner and Mnookin 1990; Maccoby and Mnookin 1994).
As noted above, the most common parenting style among divorced parents is disengagement whereby parents simply have as little to do with each other as possible, including very little communication about child rearing issues. This disengaged parenting style does not support dual residence and frequent child-nonresidential parent contact, and these arrangements were associated with reduced well-being among adolescents in disengaged families (Maccoby, Depner and Mnookin 1990; Maccoby and Mnookin 1994).
ii. Child Support
Virtually every researcher who has studied the issue reports that more frequent child-nonresidential parent contact is associated with improved child support compliance. Fathers who see their children often and are active participants in their lives make child support payments more frequently and are more likely to pay the full amount than fathers who have little or no contact with their children (Arditti 1992b, Arditti and Keith 1993; Meyer and Barfield 1996; Meyer and Garasky 1993; Paasch and Teachman 1991; Pearson and Thoennes 1988; Peters et al. 1993; Seltzer 1991b; Seltzer et al. 1989; Stephens 1996; Teachman 1991a,b).
Three different explanations have been offered for the strong association between child-nonresidential parent contact and child support compliance.
To date, researchers have not been able to demonstrate which of these mechanisms dominates.
Nevertheless, the close link between child-nonresidential parent contact and child support compliance findings suggests that frequent child-nonresidential parent contact may enhance child well-being by improving the financial support available to the child.
Two caveats are in order, however.
"In the large majority of divorcing families, both parents have been involved with the children on a daily basis. Simple continuity with the past, in terms of the roles of the two parents in the lives of the children, is hardly possible. The relationship between parents and children must change markedly."
" the coparental relationship between divorced parents is something that needs to be constructed, not something that can simply be carried over from pre-separation patterns. It takes times and effort on the part of both parents to arrange their lives in such a way that the children can spend time in both parental households "
"Only a minority of our families--about 30 percent were able to establish cooperative coparenting relationships. Spousal disengagement, which essentially involved parallel parenting with little communication had become the most common pattern about a quarter of our families remained conflicted at the end of three and a half years."
"While our study did not attempt to measure the impact of coparenting relations on the well-being of children, the results of the follow-up study of the adolescents in our sample families, as well as the research of others, makes us confident that there are important effects. Children derive real benefits--psychological, social, and economic--when divorced parents can have cooperative coparenting relationships. With conflicted coparental relationships, on the other hand, children are more likely to be caught in the middle, with real adverse effects on the child."
"A more radical alternative to the present best interests custody standard is a presumption in favor of joint physical custody. We oppose such a presumption. we are deeply concerned about the use of joint physical custody in cases where there is substantial parental conflict such conflict can create grave risks for children. We do not think it good for children to feel caught in the middle of parental conflict, and in those cases where the parents are involved in a bitter dispute we believe a presumption for joint custody would do harm . . . We wish to note, however, that joint custody can work very well when parents are able to cooperate. Thus we are by no means recommending that joint custody be denied to parents who want to try it."
" there is simply not enough evidence available at present to substantiate routinely imposing joint residential custody the limited analyses other researchers have performed don't strongly recommend it be imposed either."
"If each parent is empowered by joint legal custody and is allowed involvement in the full variety of child rearing activities, few parents or children will feel deprived. A parent overly concerned that he see his child exactly the same amount of time as his ex-spouse becomes more of an accountant than a parent. Furthermore, this strict accounting of time can also set the stage for many future arguments, when arrangements must be changed because of extenuating circumstances, which routinely come up. Finally, such arrangements are often transitional. As children get older, they frequently don't want to switch households so often. In short, insisting upon strict equality of time spent with the child may be in the weaker parent's interest but it is rarely in the child's."
" joint custody can be helpful in families where it has been chosen voluntarily by both parents and is suitable for the child. But there is no evidence to support the notion that "one size fits all" or even most. There is, in fact, a lot of evidence for the idea that different custody models are suitable for different families. The policy job ahead is to find the best match for each family. Sadly, when joint custody is imposed by the court on families fighting over custody of children the major consequences of the fighting are shifted onto the least able members of the family--the hapless and helpless children. The children can suffer serious psychological injury when this happens."
"Custody arrangements may matter far less for the well-being of children than had been thought . The rationale for joint custody is so plausible and attractive that one is tempted to disregard the disappointing evidence and support it anyway. But based on what is known now, we think custody and visitation matter less for children than how much conflict there is between the parents and how effectively the parent the child lives with functions. It is likely that a child who alternates between the homes of a distraught mother and an angry father will be more troubled than a child who lives with a mother who is coping well and who once a fortnight sees a father who has disengaged from his family. Even the frequency of visits with a father seem to matter less than the climate in which they take place. Joint physical custody should be encouraged only in cases where both parents voluntarily agree to it imposing joint physical custody would invite continuing conflict without any clear benefits In weighing alternative public policies concerning divorce, the thin empirical evidence of the benefits of joint custody and frequent visits with fathers must be acknowledged."
"Joint custody arrangements, while not common, are found in many communities, particularly in more privileged socioeconomic groups Whether or not high levels of contact with both biological parents can reduce or eliminate the negative consequences associated with divorce is an open question. To date, researchers have found very little evidence that it does."
"We have demonstrated that children raised apart from one of their parents are less successful in adulthood than children raised by both their parents For children living with a single parent and no stepparent, income is the single most important factor in accounting for their lower well-being as compared with children living with both parents. It accounts for as much as half their disadvantage."
"Recent studies suggest that the relationship between child adjustment and conflict is neither universal, simple, nor particularly straightforward It appears that, rather than discord per se, it is the manner in which parental conflict is expressed that may affect the children's adjustment. High interparental discord has been found to be related to the child's feeling caught in the middle, and this experience of feeling caught was related to adjustment Adolescents in dual (shared) residence arrangements did not feel more caught than did adolescents in mother or father custody type arrangements. Nor was amount of visiting related to feeling caught. There was a significant effect, however, of the interaction between type of residence and the parental relationship. Dual residence arrangements appeared to be more harmful when parents were in high discord than were sole residence arrangements. In contrast, adolescents in dual residence arrangements where there was cooperative communication between parents benefited more than did adolescents in sole residence arrangements."
"On the face of it, joint custody seems to be an equitable solution to the problem of dividing the child . [Proponents of joint custody] suggest that parents whose conflicts or incompatibility are so great as to necessitate divorce are somehow able to manage to concur on a joint path when raising their children . Without coordination, and without a structure in which each parent has the means to compel the other to engage in appropriate behaviors and make investments in their children, joint custody is hardly akin to an intact family. Joint custody is at least as likely as alternative custody arrangements are to result in diffusion of responsibility for the child. When both take responsibility it is tantamount to neither doing so."
1 Parental conflict does NOT refer to domestic violence and abuse, which may or may not be present. Domestic violence and abuse tends to be inadequately assessed in survey research where strong social norms mitigate against accurate reporting.
2 As noted earlier, parental conflict does NOT refer to domestic violence and abuse, which may or may not be present. Domestic violence and abuse tend to be inadequately assessed in survey research where strong social norms mitigate against accurate reporting.
a. Research Articles
Allison, P.D., and F.F. Furstenberg, Jr. 1989. "How marital dissolution affects children: Variation by age and sex." Developmental Psychology 25:540-549.
Amato, P.R. 1991. "The Child of Divorce' as a person prototype: Bias in the recall of information about children from divorced families." Journal of Marriage and the Family 53:59-69.
Amato, P.R., 1994. "Father-child relations, mother-child relations, and offspring psychological well-being in early adulthood." Journal of Marriage and the Family 56:1031-42.
Amato, P. R. 1996. "Explaining the intergenerational transmission of divorce." Journal of Marriage and the Family 58:628-640.
Amato, P.R., and A. Booth. 1991. "The consequences of divorce for attitudes toward divorce and gender roles." Journal of Family Issues 12:306-322.
Amato, P.R., and B. Keith. 1991a. "Parental divorce and adult well-being: A meta-analysis." Journal of Marriage and the Family 53:43-58.
Amato, P.R., and B. Keith. 1991b. "Parental divorce and the well-being of children: A meta-analysis." Psychological Bulletin 110:26-46.
Amato, P.R., and S.J. Rezac. 1994. "Contact with nonresident parents, interparental conflict, and children's behavior." Journal of Family Issues 15:191-207.
Arditti, J.A. 1992a. "Differences between fathers with joint custody and noncustodial fathers." American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 62:186-195
Arditti, J.A. 1992b. "Factors related to custody, visitation, and child support for divorced fathers: An exploratory analysis." Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 17:23-42.
Arditti, J.A., and T. Keith. 1993. "Visitation frequency, child support payment, and the father-child relationship post-divorce." Journal of Marriage and the Family 55:699-712.
Argys, L.M., H. E. Peters, J. Brookes-Gunn, and J.R. Smith. 1998. "The impact of child support on cognitive outcomes of young children." Demography 35:159-173.
Asmussen, L., and R. Larson. 1991. "The quality of family time among young adolescents in single-parent and married-parent families." Journal of Marriage and the Family 53:1021-1030.
Astone, N.M., and S. McLanahan. 1991. "Family structure, parental practices, and high school completion." American Sociological Review 56:309-320.
Astone, N.M., and S. McLanahan. 1994. "Family structure, residential mobility, and school dropout: A research note." Demography 31:575-584.
Axinn, W.G., and J.S. Barber. 1997. "Living arrangements and family formation attitudes in early adulthood." Journal of Marriage and the Family 59:595-611.
Barnes, G.M. and M.P. Farrell. 1992. "Parental support and control as predictors of adolescent drinking, delinquency, and related problem behaviors." Journal of Marriage and the Family 54:763-76.
Baydar, N. 1988. "Effects of parental separation and reentry into unions on the emotional well-being of children." Journal of Marriage and the Family 50:967-81.
Bay, R.C., and S.L. Braver. 1990. "Perceived control of the divorce settlement process and interparental conflict." Family Relations 39:382-387.
Beller, A.H., and J.W. Graham. 1986. "Child support awards: Differentials and trends by race and marital status." Demography 23:231-245.
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Isaacs, M.B., G.H. Leon, and M. Kline. 1987. "When is a parent out of the picture? Different custody, different perceptions." Family Process 26:101-110.
Jekielek, S. 1998 "Parental conflict, marital disruption, and children's emotional well-being." Social Forces 76:905.
Johnston, J., M. Kline, and J.M. Tschann. 1989. "Ongoing post divorce conflict: Effects on children of joint custody and frequent access." American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 59:576-592.
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King, V. 1994a. "Nonresident father involvement and child well-being: Can Dads make a difference." Journal of Family Issues 15:78-96.
King, V. 1994b. "Variation in the consequences of nonresident father involvement for children's well-being." Journal of Marriage and the Family 56:963-972.
Kline, M., J.R. Johnston, and J.M. Tschann. 1991. "The long shadow of marital conflict: A model of children's post-divorce adjustment." Journal of Marriage and the Family 53:297-309.
Kline, M., J.M. Tschann, J.R. Johnson, and J.S. Wallerstein. 1989. "Children's adjustment in joint and sole custody families." Developmental Psychology 25:430-435.
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Kurdek, L.A. 1988a. "A 1-year follow-up of study of children's adjustment to divorce, custodial mothers divorce adjustment, and post-divorce parenting." Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 9:315-28.
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Kurdek, L.A. 1991. "The relations between reported well-being and divorce history, availability of a proximate adult, and gender." Journal of Marriage and the Family 53:71-78.
Lowery, C.R. 1986. "Maternal and joint custody: Differences in the decision process." Law and Human Behavior 10:303-15.
Lowery, C.R., and S.A. Settle. 1985. "Effects of divorce on children: Differential impact of custody and visitation patterns." Family Relations 34:455-463.
Luepnitz, D.A. 1986. "A comparison of maternal, paternal, and joint custody: Understanding the varieties of post-divorce family life." Journal of Divorce 9:1-12.
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McLanahan, S. and Larry Bumpass. 1988. "Intergenerational consequences of family disruption." American Journal of Sociology 94:130-52.
McKinnon, R., and J. S. Wallerstein. 1986. "Joint custody and the preschool child." Behavioral Sciences and the Law 4:169-183.
Meyer, D. R. 1993. "Child support and welfare dynamics: Evidence from Wisconsin." Demography 30:45-62.
Meyer, D. R., and J. Bartfeld. 1996. "Compliance with child support orders in divorce cases." Journal of Marriage and the Family 58:201-212.
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Pearson, J.P. and N. Thoennes. 1988. "Supporting children after divorce: The influence of custody on support levels and payments." Family Law Quarterly 22:319-39.
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Pearson, J., N. Thoennes, and P. Tjaden. 1989. "Legislating adequacy: The impact of child support guidelines." Law and Society Review 23:569-590.
Peters, H. E. 1986. "Marriage and divorce: Informational constraints and private contracting." American Economic Review 76:437-454.
Peters, H. E., L.M. Argys, E. Maccoby, and R.H. Mnookin. 1993. "Enforcing divorce settlements: Evidence from child support compliance and award modification." Demography 30:719-735.
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Seltzer, J. A., 1991b. "Legal custody arrangements and children's economic welfare." American Journal of Sociology 96:895-929.
Seltzer, J.A. 1988. "Father by law: Effects of joint legal custody on nonresident fathers' involvement with children." Demography 35:135-146.
Seltzer, J. A., and Yvonne Brandreth. 1994. "What fathers say about involvement with children after separation." Journal of Family Issues 15:49-77.
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Seltzer, J.A., N.C. Schaeffer, and H. Charng. 1989. "Family ties after divorce: The relationship between visiting and paying child support." Journal of Marriage and the Family 51:1013-1031.
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Shiller, V. 1986a. "Joint versus maternal families with latency age boys: Parent characteristics and child adjustment." American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 56:486-489.
Shiller, V. 1986b. "Loyalty conflicts and family relationships in latency age boys: A comparison of joint and maternal custody." Journal of Divorce 9:17-38.
Shrier, D.K., S.K. Simring, and E.T. Shapiro. 1991. "Level of satisfaction of fathers and mothers with joint or sole custody arrangements: Results of a questionnaire." Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 16:163-170.
Simons, R.L., C. Johnson, and R.D. Conger. 1994. "Harsh corporal punishment versus quality of parental involvement as an explanation of adolescent maladjustment." Journal of Marriage and the Family 56:591-607.
Smith, H.L., and S.P. Morgan. 1994. "Children's closeness to fathers as reported by mothers, sons, and daughters: Evaluating subjective assessments with the Rasch model." Journal of Family Issues 15:3-29.
Southworth, S., and J.C. Schwarz. 1987. "Post-divorce contact relationship with father and heterosexual trust in female college students." American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 57:371-382.
Steinman, S.B., S.F. Zemmelman, and T.M. Knoblauch. 1985. "A study of parents who sought joint custody after divorce: Who reaches agreement and sustains joint custody and who returns to court." Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry 24:554-562.
Stephens, L.S. 1996. "Will Johnny see daddy this week? An empirical test of three theoretical perspectives of post-divorce contact." Journal of Family Issues 17:466-494.
Teachman, J.D. 1991a. "Who pays? Receipt of child support in the United States." Journal of Marriage and the Family 53:759-772.
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Thomson, E., T.L. Hanson, and S. McLanahan. 1994. "Family structure and child well-being: Economic resources versus parental behaviors." Social Forces 73:221-242.
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Wallerstein, J.S. and R. McKinnon. 1986. "Joint custody and the preschool child." Behavioral Sciences and the Law 4:169-183.
Weiss, Yoram, and Robert J. Willis. 1985. "Children as collective goods and divorce settlements." Journal of Labor Economics 3:269-292.
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Zaslow, M. 1989. "Sex differences in children's response to parental divorce. Part 2:Samples, variables, ages and sources." American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 59:118.
b. Books and Monographs
Acock, A.C., and D.H. Demo. 1994. Family Diversity and Well-being. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Arendell, T. 1995. Fathers and Divorce. Thousand Oaks, Ca.: Sage Publications.
Biller, H.B. 1993. Fathers and Families: Paternal Factors in Child Development. Westport, CT: Auburn House,
Bozett, F.W., and S.M.H. Hanson. 1991. Fatherhood and Families in Cultural Context. New York, NY: Springer.
Braver, Sanford L., with Diane O'Connell. 1998. Divorced Dads. New York: Tarcher Putnam.
Buchanan, C.M., E.E. Maccoby, and S.M. Dornbusch. 1996. Adolescents After Divorce. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Cherlin, A.J. 1992. Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage. Revised and enlarged edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Emery, R. 1988. Marriage, Divorce, and Children's Adjustment. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
Friedman, D.. 1995. Towards a Structure of Indifference: The Social Origins of Maternal Custody. New York, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.
Furstenberg, F. F., Jr., and A.J. Cherlin. 1991. Divided Families: What Happens to Children When Parents Part. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Maccoby, E., and R.H. Mnookin. 1994. Dividing the Child: Social and Legal Dilemmas of Custody. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
McLanahan, S., and G. Sandefur. 1994. Growing Up With A Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Wallerstein, J.S., and S. Blakeslee. 1989. Second Chances: Men, Women, and Children a Decade After Divorce. New York, NY: Ticknor and Fields.
c. Review Articles and Discussion Articles
Allen, K.R. 1993. "The dispassionate discourse of children's adjustment to divorce." Journal of Marriage and the Family 55:46-50.
Amato, P.R. 1993a. "Children's adjustment to divorce: Theories, hypotheses, and empirical support." Journal of Marriage and the Family 55:23-38.
Amato, P.R. 1993b. "Family structure, family process, and family ideology." Journal of Marriage and the Family 55:50-54.
Brown, S. 1984. "Changes in laws governing divorce: An evaluation of joint custody presumptions." Journal of Family Issues 5:200-223.
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Coltrane, S., and N. Hickman. 1992. "The rhetoric of rights and needs: Moral discourse in the reform of child custody and child support laws." Social Problems 39:400-420.
Demo, D. H. 1993. "The relentless search for effects of divorce: Forging new trails or tumbling down the beaten path." Journal of Marriage and the Family 55:42-45.
Ferreiro, B.W. 1990. "Presumption of joint custody: A family policy dilemma." Family Relations 39:426-429.
Furstenberg, F.F., Jr. 1990. "Divorce and the American family." Annual Review of Sociology 16:379-403.
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Kelly, J.B. 1988. "Longer term adjustment in children of divorce: converging findings and implications for practice." Journal of Family Psychology 2:112-140.
Kelly, J.B. 1993. "Current research on children's post-divorce adjustment: No simple answers." Family and Conciliation Courts Review 31:29-49.
Kelly, J.B. 1994. "The determination of child custody." The Future of Children 4:121-142.
Kruk, E. 1992. "Psychological and structural factors contributing to the disengagement of noncustodial fathers after divorce." Family and Conciliation Courts Review 30:81-101.
Kurdek, L.A. 1993. "Issues in proposing a general model of the effects of divorce on children." Journal of Marriage and the Family 55:39-41.
Melli, M.S. and P.R. Brown. 1994. The economics of shared custody: Developing an equitable formula for dual residence." Houston Law Review 31:543-84.
Seltzer, J. A. 1994. "Consequences of marital dissolution for children." Annual Review of Sociology 20:235-66.
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Wolman, R. and K. Taylor. 1991. "Psychological effects of custody disputes on children." Behavioral Sciences and the Law 9:399-417.
d. Articles in Edited Volumes and Edited Volumes
Camera, K., and G. Resnick. 1989. "Interparental conflict and cooperation: Factors moderating children's post-divorce adjustment." In Impact of Divorce, Single Parenting, and Stepparenting on Children, edited by E.M. Hetherington and J.D. Arasteh. Hillside, NJ: Erlbaum.
Cowan C., and P. Cowan. 1987. "Men's involvement in parenthood: Identifying the antecedents and understanding the barriers." In Men's Transitions to Parenthood: Longitudinal Studies of Early Family Experience, edited by P. Berman and E. Pederson. Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.
Duncan, G.J., and S. D. Hoffman. 1985a. "Economic consequences of marital instability." In Horizontal Equity, Uncertainty, and Economic Well-being, edited by M. David and T. Smeeding. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Emery, R.E., E.M. Hetherington, and L.F. Dilalla. 1984. "Divorce, children and social policy." In Child Development Research and Social Policy, Vol. 1, edited by H.W. Stevenson and A.E. Siegel. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Felner, R.D. and L. Terre. 1987. "Child custody dispositions and children's adaptation following divorce." In Psychology and Child Custody Determinations: Knowledge, Roles and Expertise, edited by L.A. Weithorn. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
Garfinkle, I., S. McLanahan, and P.K. Robbins. (eds.) 1994. Child Support and Child Well-being. Washington D.C.:The Urban Institute Press.
Guidabaldi, J., J.D. Perry, and B.K. Nastasi. 1987. "Growing up in a divorced family: Initial and long term perspectives on children's adjustment." In Applied Social Psychology Annual, Vol. 7: Family Processes and Problems, edited by S. Oskamp. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Koel, A., S.C. Clark, W.P.C. Phear, and B.B. Hauser. 1988. "A Comparison of Joint and Sole Legal Custody Arrangements." In Impact of Divorce, Single Parenting, and Stepparenting on Children, edited by E.M. Hetherington and J.D. Arasteh. Hillside, NJ: Erlbaum.
Lamb, M.E. (ed.) 1981. The Role of the Father in Child Development. New York: Wiley.
Lamb, M.E. (ed.) 1987a. The Father's Role: Cross-Cultural Perspectives. Hilssdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.
Lamb, M.E. (ed.) 1987b. The Father's Role: Applied Perspectives. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
D.L. Levy (ed.) 1993. The Best Parent is Both Parents: A Guide to Shared Parenting in the 21st Century. Norfolk Va.:Hampton Roads.
Marsiglio, W. (ed.) 1995. Fatherhood. Newbury Park, Ca.: Sage Publications.
Mnookin, R.H., E.E. Maccoby, C.R. Albiston, and C. Depner. 1990. "Private ordering revisited: What custodial arrangements are parents negotiating?" In Divorce Reform at the Crossroads, edited by S.D. Sugarman and H.H. Kay. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Zill, N. 1988. "Behavior, achievement, and health problems among children in stepfamilies: Findings from a survey of child health." In Impact of Divorce, Single Parenting, and Stepparenting on Children, edited by E.M. Hetherington and J.D. Arasteh. Hillside, NJ: Erlbaum.
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