Personal and social consequences of separation/divorce

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Children's and parents' well-being in joint physical custody : a literature review.

Steinbach A
Family Process v. 58 no. 2 Jun 2019: 353-369
There is a growing move towards shared parenting, but debates still continue on its impact on children's and parents' wellbeing. This article reviews the literature from Australia and overseas and describes the findings of 40 studies. Overall, the studies indicate that children in shared custody fare the same if not better than children in sole custody arrangements. However, the studies themselves vary so much conceptually, methodologically, and contextually that further research is required.

What do housing wealth and tenure have to do with it? Changes in wellbeing of men and women after divorce using Australian panel data.

Andre S, Dewilde C and Muffels R
Social Science Research v. 78 Feb 2019: 104-118
There is a growing body of evidence on the association between housing, divorce, and wellbeing. Houses are sources of shelter and emotional and economic investment, and losing them and trying to find and pay for new accommodation can add to the stresses of divorce. This article investigates the moderating effect of two important aspects of housing - tenure and housing wealth - on the relationship between divorce or separation and wellbeing, using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. Three indicators of subjective wellbeing are used: life satisfaction, satisfaction with the economic or financial situation, and happiness. It finds that homeowners are more negatively affected than tenants, and that gender also plays a role. Moving from an owned to a rented house has a smaller negative impact for women than staying in the owned house, whereas for men, staying in the owned house or owning another increases happiness and helps mitigates financial stress. The implications of homeownership as a welfare resource is also discussed.

Addressing family violence post separation - mothers and fathers' experiences from Australia.

Francia L, Millear P and Sharman R
Journal of Child Custody v. 16 no. 3 2019: 211-235
This article explores parents' experiences of engaging with the family law system, in cases of family violence or high conflict two years after separation. Forty mothers and fathers were interviewed, raising themes of long-term anxiety and distress, feeling their concerns weren't taken seriously, coercion by professionals, and a lack of knowledge by professionals about family violence.

When couples part: understanding the consequences for adults and children : executive summary

Coleman L and Glenn F
London : ONE Plus ONE, 2009
This paper summarises the key findings and implications from a review of the literature on the impact of separation on adults and children. The resounding conclusion from this review is that the association between couple relationship breakdown and disadvantage is evident through a wide range of health and socio-economic indicators, and the findings support the case for more investment to help strengthen family relationships and to minimise the burden when relationship breakdown does occur. This paper also includes the foreword by Professor Michael Rutter and the reference list.

Psychosocial profiles of adolescents from dissolved families : differences in depressive symptoms in emerging adulthood.

Di Manno L, Macdonald J, Youssef G, Little K and Olsson C
Journal of Affective Disorders v. 241 Dec 2018: 325-337
This article explores the mental health of adolescents who had experienced parental separation, using data from the Australian Temperament Project. In particular, its investigates whether different groups of adolescents are at risk for developing depression. Adjustment, mental health, and antisocial behaviour were assessed throughout adolescence at 13-14, 15-16, and 17-18 years of age. The study found that most of the adolescents from separated families were well-adjusted, but there were two groups at higher risk of subsequent mental health problems, and who could benefit from targeted intervention.

Psychosocial profiles of adolescents from dissolved families : differences in depressive symptoms in emerging adulthood.

Di Manno L, Macdonald J, Youssef G, Little K and Olsson C
Journal of Affective Disorders v. 241 Dec 2018: 325-337
This article explores why some children from separated families develop depression and others do not. Using data from the Australian Temperament Project (ATP) from Victoria, this article investigates the different inter-related risk and protective factors that may explain variations in susceptibility to depressive symptoms in adolescence and young adulthood. The study found that most of the young people from dissolved families were well-adjusted in adolescence and at age 19/20, and highlights the need for targeted interventions for at risk groups.

The impact of relationship separation on suicidality and mental health

Kazan D
2018.
"A systematic review was conducted to establish the impact of intimate partner relationships on suicidality, specifically how relationship separation contributes to suicidal thoughts and behaviours. An online cross-sectional survey was developed to explore potential predictors of suicidality and to identify challenges, benefits and help-seeking strategies following a relationship separation. A final systematic review was conducted to assess the impact of existing separation interventions on mental health, specifically focusing on suicidal thoughts and behaviours. The results from these studies guided the development of MindCast, a six-session, online podcast program based on Brief Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT-B), designed for people who have separated from a relationship. The effectiveness of this intervention was evaluated through a randomised controlled trial of 124 Australian participants who had separated in the last six months ... The results of the systematic reviews highlighted that relationship separation and poor quality relationships are likely to be important risk factors for suicidal thoughts and behaviours and are a frequent trigger for a suicide attempt. However, there exists a paucity of trials that adequately assess the effects of non-marital relationship separation interventions on mental health outcomes and none that consider suicidal thoughts and/or behaviours. The cross-sectional study identified greater symptoms of antagonism and disinhibition and less active coping, decreased positive family support, less negative friends and lower self-esteem as being significantly associated with increased odds of suicidal ideation ... The MindCast podcast represents the first self-directed, online podcast developed for people who have separated from an intimate partner relationship. It was also the first study of its kind to adapt IPT, of any form, to a podcast format and to explore the influence of such an intervention on suicidal ideation and broader psychosocial targets. Although the results did not indicate that the intervention was effective in terms of targeting primary mental health outcomes, qualitative feedback suggests that participants were keen to engage in the content."--Author abstract.

Review of research and case law on parental alienation

Doughty J, Maxwell N and Slater T
Cardiff : Welsh Government, 2018.
"This review of research and case law on the topic of parental alienation aims to provide an evidence base to guide practice for Cafcass Cymru. The notion of parental alienation was first recognised by Wallerstein and Kelly in 1976, but it was Gardner's assertion in 1987 that parental alienation was a syndrome, that is, a mental condition suffered by children who had been alienated by their mothers, which has led to debate over the last 30 years ... This report begins with setting out the relevant law [in Wales] and the context of the review, followed by a description of the methods used. The research literature is then presented, followed by a case law review. The report ends with some discussion, conclusions and key messages for practice."--Introduction.

Family structure and childhood mental disorders : new findings from Australia.

Perales F, Johnson S, Baxter J, Lawrence D and Zubrick S
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology v. 52 no. 4 Apr 2017: 423-433
This article investigates whether family structure is associated with mental disorders in childhood. Using data from Young Minds Matter, the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Well-being, it compares a range of mental disorders in children aged from 4 to 17 and the children's family arrangements, as well as time since any family separation. The findings indicate that children in one-parent, blended, and step families experience a higher prevalence of mental disorders than children living with two biological parents. Differences in anxiety disorders, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and conduct disorders are noted.

Women and separation: managing new horizons

Rogers M, Pattenden R, Pullen J and Bickerdike A
Camberwell, Vic. : Relationships Australia Victoria, 2017.
Separation presents challenges for many women. This booklet is intended to help separated women make sense of their feelings, to offer guidance in constructive choices, and to raise awareness of the support services that are available. It covers the following topics: separation and women's experience; the separation; looking after yourself; children and separation; relating to your former partner; making formal arrangements; the future; research about women and separation; where to get further assistance; and suggested reading.

Domestic and family violence and parenting: mixed method insights into impact and support needs : key findings and future directions

Kaspiew R, Horsfall B, Qu L, Nicholson J, Humphreys C, Diemer K, Nguyen C, Buchanan F, Hooker L, Taft A, Westrupp E, Cooklin A, Carson R and Dunstan J
N.S.W. : ANROWS, 2017.
This paper presents key findings for policy and practice from a study into the impact of domestic and family violence on parenting capacity and parent-child relationships in Australia. Drawing on a mixed method approach involving analysis of three longitudinal data sets, a review of the literature, and interviews with service users, the study investigated parental conflict in families and impacts on the emotional health and parenting behaviours of mothers and fathers and child functioning; how DFV experienced before separation, after separation, or both affects parents' emotional health and parent-child relationships; and mothers' experiences of engagement with services in the domestic and family violence, child protection, and family law systems. The findings add to the evidence base on the impact of this violence and the issues that are shared or differ across gender and family structure.

Domestic and family violence and parenting: mixed method insights into impact and support needs : final report

Kaspiew R, Horsfall B, Qu L, Nicholson J, Humphreys C, Diemer K, Nguyen C, Buchanan F, Hooker L, Taft A, Westrupp E, Cooklin A, Carson R and Dunstan J
N.S.W. : ANROWS, 2017.
This report collates the findings of a research study into the impact of domestic and family violence on parenting capacity and parent-child relationships in Australia. The study focused on three main issues: parental conflict in families and impacts on the emotional health and parenting behaviours of mothers and fathers and child functioning; how DFV experienced before separation, after separation, or both affects parents' emotional health and parent-child relationships; and mothers' experiences of engagement with services in the domestic and family violence, child protection, and family law systems. A mixed method approach involving four separate components was employed, involving a review of the literature (also published separately), an analysis of data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, an analysis of data from the Longitudinal Study of Separated Families (LSSF) and the Survey of Recently Separated Parents (SRSP), and interviews with 50 women in contact with DFV services. The findings add to the evidence base by bringing together evidence on a diversity of Australian populations and capturing the experiences and impacts on fathers, mothers, and children at varying ages and stages, enabling the identification of important issues across gender and family structure.

Do housing wealth and tenure (change) moderate the relationship between divorce and subjective wellbeing?

Andre S, Dewilde C and Muffels R
Tilburg, Netherlands : Tilburg University, 2017.
In times of divorce, the 'home ownership' 'nest egg' can be a source of anxiety and financial stress and a burden. This paper investigates the moderating effect of two important aspects of housing - tenure and housing wealth - on the relationship between divorce and wellbeing. Data is taken from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, for life satisfaction, happiness, and financial satisfaction of divorcing or separating couples. The paper finds that homeowners are more negatively affected by divorce or separation than tenants. When women move from an owned to a rented house, divorce has a smaller negative effect on happiness and financial satisfaction than when remaining in the owned home. For men however, housing wealth alleviates financial stress when the divorcees remain in an owner-occupied house after divorce.

The impact of intimate partner relationships on suicidal thoughts and behaviours : a systematic review.

Kazan D, Calear A and Batterham P
Journal of Affective Disorders v. 190 Jan 2016: 585-598
This article investigates the impact of intimate partner relationships on suicidality. It presents a review of the literature on relationship factors - including separation and relationship quality - and their association with suicide ideation, attempts and completion. The review found only limited research evidence, but the available studies indicate that relationship issues are likely to be important risk factors for suicide.

Child outcomes after parental separation: variations by contact and court involvement

Goisis A, Ozcan B and Sigle W
London : Ministry of Justice, 2016.
This report adds to the research on the nature and consequences of post-separation contact. It investigates whether contact between a child and a non-resident parent is associated with child well-being at age 11, and whether this varies by parental marital status, the level of post-separation contact, and whether separation issues were resolved with court involvement or not. Data is taken from the Millennium Cohort Study from the United Kingdom, for the subset of children who had experienced parental separation at some point between the ages of 9 months and 7 years. Outcomes included subjective well-being, engagement in antisocial behaviours and risk taking, and social-behavioural problems. The report also investigates patterns in the nature and frequency of contact, whether the provision of financial support varies by family characteristics, and whether court use during the separation process varies by family characteristics. Consistent with previous studies, the report finds that children who experienced parental separation by age 7 tended to have worse outcomes at age 11 than those whose parents were married at the time of birth and remained married: these differences were small, however. The results also tentatively suggest that court involvement during the separation process might be negatively associated with child outcomes and that more contact with the non-resident parent was associated with better outcomes for children. Further research is required.

What do the children have to say?: children's perceptions of the children of divorce intervention program

Senko L
2016.
"Few of the child-focused interventions that have been developed to address the negative effects of divorce have been extensively evaluated to validate their positive outcomes. One school-based preventive program that has undergone in-depth evaluations with multiple treatment and control groups to document its efficacy among children of different backgrounds is the Children of Divorce Intervention Program (CODIP) (Pedro-Carroll, 2005). While many studies have documented the durability and generalizability of its positive outcomes, there is insufficient qualitative research exploring children's perceptions of the program ... Therefore, through a process evaluation study, involving approximately forty children of divorce who attend two elementary schools in a public school district in New Jersey, this study investigated children's perceptions of CODIP. The following research questions guided my study: (1) how do students describe their experiences in CODIP? (2) in what ways have students benefitted from their involvement in CODIP? (3) which components of CODIP contributed to students' positive outcomes? (4) which features of the program did students like the most/least? (5) how did participants' perceptions of the program vary across developmental age groups? My data analysis revealed three main findings: (1) children benefitted by learning how to express their feelings, solve divorce-related problems, and be part of a peer support system; (2) the positive group dynamics, strong relationships with facilitators, and experiential aspects of the program contributed to these benefits; and (3) participants offered constructive feedback about environmental conditions and their desire for more hands-on activities. The implications of these findings are considered for program developers and school counselors, and recommendations for modifications to the program and considerations for implementation are offered."--Author abstract.

Family dissolution and offspring depression and depressive symptoms : a systematic review of moderation effects.

Di Manno L, Macdonald J and Knight T
Journal of Affective Disorders v. 188 Dec 2015: 68-79
Though children from separated families face a higher risk of depression, many children will not experience this negative outcome - how do these children differ? This article reviews the international research literature to investigate what child or family characteristics or circumstances are associated with risk or resilience in children in separating families. The quality of the evidence is also assessed. Though further research is needed, the findings indicate that factors such as child age, gender, temperament, and IQ and maternal sensitivity play a role.

Is shared care indicated or contraindicated following parental separation?

Turner C
2015.
"There is currently a multitude of research relating to shared care and its effect on a child's psychosocial wellbeing following parental separation. However, there is no clear consensus in the literature about what custody arrangement is best for the child following parental separation, especially when there is inter-parental conflict. This systematic literature review aimed to provide a synthesis of the current literature surrounding shared care following separation. The review aimed to ascertain when shared care is indicated or contraindicated in families with children under the age of 12, across both conflict and no conflict families. [The review identified] a total of 24 included studies. Of these studies, 18 indicated that shared care was no worse for children's wellbeing than sole custody arrangements. Furthermore, it appears that it is not the care arrangement itself that affects child wellbeing, but a number of other positive and negative factors. These factors have been discussed at length with recommendations being provided for practitioners working in psychology, family therapy and family law."--Author abstract.

Divorce and the experience of Australian men

Delaney S
2015.
This thesis investigates men's adaptation to divorce in Australia and the impact of various factors on how well they adjust. 134 men aged 18 to 60 years were interviewed regarding their experiences of emotional detachment, anger, grief, loss, self-worth, and overall adjustment, and the association of these with characteristics of their marriage, education and employment status, the presence of children and satisfaction with resulting custody arrangements, gender role identity, sources of post-divorce support, relationship with former spouse and in-laws, pre-divorce and post-divorce conflict with spouse, and involvement with fathers' rights groups.

Teachers facilitating support for young children experiencing parental separation and divorce.

Mahony L, Walsh K, Lunn J and Petriwskyj A
Journal of Child and Family Studies v. 24 no. 10 Oct 2015: 2841-2852
This article explores how teachers support young children experiencing parental separation and divorce. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with 21 early childhood teachers in Australia, revealing provision of emotional, behavioural, and academic support, and collaboration with parents and school personnel.

Life satisfaction across life course transitions [Reprint]

Qu L and De Vaus D
Journal of the Home Economics Institute of Australia v. 22 no. 2 2015: 15-27
Does life satisfaction improve or decline as people grow older? What happens to people's outlook as they pass through the common events of life? This paper investigates trends and patterns in life satisfaction across the life course, using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. Almost 27,000 people aged 15 years and older were followed for over a decade as they navigated through seven transition events - leaving the parental home, forming a relationship, having children, relationship separation, becoming 'empty nesters', retirement, and the death of a partner. The findings show how life satisfaction changes over time and the differences and similarities in how men and women respond to events.

Life satisfaction across life course transitions

Qu L and De Vaus D
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2015.
Does life satisfaction improve or decline as people grow older? What happens to people's outlook as they pass through the common events of life? This paper investigates trends and patterns in life satisfaction across the life course, using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. Almost 27,000 people aged 15 years and older were followed for over a decade as they navigated through seven transition events - leaving the parental home, forming a relationship, having children, relationship separation, becoming 'empty nesters', retirement, and the death of a partner. The findings show how life satisfaction changes over time and the differences and similarities in how men and women respond to events.

Recency of divorce, depression, and suicide risk.

Stack S and Scourfield J
Journal of Family Issues v. 36 no. 6 May 2015: 695-715
International studies have shown an association between divorce and suicide risk. This article adds to the research with a study on whether the recently divorced are at greater risk than the long-term divorced, and whether the impact of divorce on suicide risk is independent of psychiatric and social covariates. American data from the National Mortality Follow Back Survey are analysed, though general divorce risk data from Australia and overseas are also presented.

The effect of family disruption on children's personality development: evidence from British longitudinal dat

Prevoo T and Ter Weel B
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2014.
"This research documents the effects of different forms of family disruptions - measured by separation, divorce and death - on personality development of British children included in the 1970 British Cohort Study. There are statistically significant correlations between family disruptions prior to the age of 16 and personality development in early childhood. Parental divorce has the largest negative effect on a child's personality development. Family disruptions have smaller effects on personality development when children are older and patterns differ by gender. The relationship between personality development and family disruption is partially driven by selection. Placebo regressions reveal significant correlations between family disruption and personality development before disruption. The omitted variable bias is mitigated by investigating mechanisms through which the selection operates."--Author abstract.

Partnership dissolution: how does it affect income, employment and well-being?

Brewer M and Nandi A
Colchester, UK : Institute for Social and Economic Research, 2014.
"Incomes, employment patterns, housing, mental health and life satisfaction can all change markedly when couples split up, but there is considerable variation within the population. Using data from all 18 waves (1991-2008) of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), an annual longitudinal survey that interviews every adult member of a nationally-representative sample of around 5,000 households, we assess comprehensively how these different domains change in the years following separation ... Our most important results are that children and their mothers see living standards fall by more, on average, after separation, than do fathers ... What is perhaps surprising is that the (proportionate) fall in living standards is far more acute for those from above-median couples than for those from below-median couples ... An even more striking finding, although one affecting fewer individuals, is the difference in post-separation living standards of men and women from couples whose children are no longer dependent: these women, who are mostly aged over 50 and tend to have been married, see living standards fall by far more, on average, after separation, than their former partners, and 30 percent of them fall into relative poverty after separation. On the other hand, this is the group that sees well-being rise (and mental distress fall) the most after separation."--Non technical summary.

Post-separation parenting, property and relationship dynamics after five years

Qu L, Weston R, Moloney L, Kaspiew R and Dunstan J
Canberra : Attorney-General's Dept., 2014
The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families examines the experiences, circumstances, and wellbeing of separated parents and their children in Australia. It was commissioned as part of the evaluation of the 2006 Family Law reforms, and three waves of surveys have now been conducted. This current report presents findings from wave 3, conducted in 2012 with 9,028 parents five years after separation. It explores the opinions and experiences of separated parents regarding: quality of inter-parental relationships; child-focused communication between parents; safety concerns and violence and abuse; use and perceived helpfulness of family law services; pathways for developing parenting arrangements; family dispute resolution; stability and change in care-time arrangements; property division and their timing and perceived fairness; and child support arrangements and compliance. The report also asks parents about their child's wellbeing, and compares this with care-time arrangements and family dynamics.

'I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy' : Western Australian fathers' perspectives on their marital separation experiences.

Mercadante C, Taylor M and Pooley J
Marriage and Family Review v. 50 no. 4 2014: 318-341
This article investigates fathers' experiences of separation. The study found that not only are fathers grieving the loss of their former marital relationship, but also their simultaneous loss of contact with their children, their fathering role, and their former family routine. The findings have implications for child contact arrangement hearings, with the authors arguing that fathers may be at a psychoemotional disadvantage during negotiations.

State-of-the-art report: effects of family forms and dynamics on children's well-being and life chances : literature review

Bernardi F, Hèarkèonen J and Boertien D
Europe : FamiliesAndSocieties project, 2013.
This review reports on the European and American literature on the impact of family forms and dynamics on children's short- and long-term wellbeing. It focuses on: the impact of family configurations - in particular separation and step-parenthood - on children's life chances; the more methodological contributions that explicitly try to identify to what extent these effects are causal; the role played by parenting and social relationships in mediating these effects; the heterogeneity of these effects for different groups of the population; and how these effects vary across countries and periods.

Family structure and children's wellbeing : a reply to Lucas, Nicholson and Erbas.

Parkinson P
Journal of Family Studies v. 19 no. 3 Dec 2013: 267-271
In the April 2013 edition of this journal, Lucas, Nicholson and Erbas published an article on 'Child mental health after parental separation: the impact of resident/non-resident parenting, parent mental health, conflict and socioeconomics'. The article used data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children to compare the mental health of children in couple-families and separated, mother-headed families, and to examine the reasons why children from separated families fared worse. One source cited by the article is a recent report by Patrick Parkinson, 'For kids sake'. However, Professor Parkinson disagrees with their interpretation of his work, and in this new article, he sets out his arguments.

Strengthening the social environment for Australian children : a reply to Parkinson.

Lucas N, Nicholson J and Erbas B
Journal of Family Studies v. 19 no. 3 Dec 2013: 272-275
In the April 2013 edition of this journal, Lucas, Nicholson and Erbas published an article on 'Child mental health after parental separation: the impact of resident/non-resident parenting, parent mental health, conflict and socioeconomics'. The article used data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children to compare the mental health of children in couple-families and separated, mother-headed families, and to examine the reasons why children from separated families fared worse. One source cited by the article is a recent report by Patrick Parkinson, 'For kids sake'. However, Professor Parkinson disagrees with their interpretation of his work, and has set out his arguments in this December edition. In this article, the original authors respond to his comments.
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