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Session Overview
RN13_08b_P: Family Dissolution and Post-Divorce Families II
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Karin Wall, University of Lisbon - ICS
Session Chair: Lynn Jamieson, University of Edinburgh
Location: PC.3.20
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 3.

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Intimate relationship breakdowns: between personal experiences and social expectations

Gaelle Aeby

University of Manchester, United Kingdom

Across Europe, in spite of the increase in divorce rate, being in a relationship remains a valued social status, and readiness to date again is often considered as the final step of the break-up or divorce process. Studying how individuals enter and exit relationships, how they make sense of their experiences (subjectivities), and how their family and friends accompany those transitions (solidarities), tells us about the social values and norms framing today personal life.

Drawing on data from a qualitative interview study of the post-break-up relationships of 30 adults living in England, this paper focuses on how individuals experience this transition. Breaking-up has two main components, one personal related to feelings and emotions, and one social related to the change of status and its consequences in terms of social expectations and sociability practices.

On the one hand, we document what people concretely do in order to overcome a break-up and with what meanings. Results show different practices around taking care of oneself; new social activities; rituals of separation. On the other hand, we document how people deal with social expectations dictating how to have a “successful” break-up and their own struggles. Results show different strategies around communication; sources of support; social withdrawal.

This paper shows that breaking-up is a multi-stages process happening at the personal and social levels and that social values and norms often do not correspond with the individuals' realities and temporalities. Un-making relationships simultaneously impact different life domains and shape the contents and meanings of personal life.

Objectifying child support decisions

Elke Claessens, Dimitri Mortelmans

University of Antwerp, Belgium

Child support research increasingly acknowledges the importance of clear-cut policies concerning the determination and transfer of child support following a union dissolution (Aizer & McLanahan, 2006; McMullen, 2011). Not only does insufficient child support put the caring parent and the child at risk of poverty; an inconsistent mode of determination can fuel hostile relations between ex-partners (Natalier & Hewitt, 2014), induce uncertainty and stress as well as adversely affect the relationship between the paying parent and child (Cancian, Meyer & Han, 2011). Most European countries therefore have legally mandatory standards or recommended methods in place with the aim of ensuring a fair and objective determination of child support.

Belgium lags behind in this respect, having several calculation methods rather than a uniform standard. In this research, we use fiscal data to investigate how this results in a lack of objectivity in the determination of child support. Our results reveal a lot of variation in the results provided by these methods. This raises serious concerns in terms of equity and justness, as it implies that different amounts are paid in similar family situations. Further, we relate these results to the determination methods in Denmark and France and consider the potential benefits and adversities of these systems. This comparison reveals that objectivity is not only gained through uniform calculation: flexibility and accessibility of a method is equally important to ensure an equitable outcome for both partners in a union dissolution.

Gender equality, child well-being and shared residence in Spain

Lluís Flaquer1, Anna Escobedo2, Anna Garriga3, Carmen Moreno4

1Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain; 2Universitat de Barcelona, Spain; 3Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain; 4Universidad de Sevilla, Spain

In the last few years there has been a significant growth of divorce cases involving shared residence in Spain where they have shifted from 9.6 percent of divorces with children in 2007 to 24.6 percent in 2015. Recent developments show that the debate on shared residence is shifting from benefits gained by parents from the perspective of gender equality to the questions related to the quality of care and to the consequent outcomes for children in terms of their well-being. The development of shared residence reveals an increasing centrality of children’s well-being, rights and interests. Furthermore, it is in line with the growth of family diversity and closely corresponds with the movement in favor of father involvement with the care of children. One of the unsettled issues of research agenda is to investigate the extent to which and under which conditions the growth of shared residence makes a positive contribution to the well-being of children.

This paper has a two-fold objective: (1) to explore the factors that are contributing to the growth of shared residence in Spain and (2) to examine child well-being levels in different types of postdivorce families with a particular focus on shared residence. Our analyses draw on two different databases, i.e. the Spanish Statistics of Annulments, Separations and Divorces (2007-2015) and Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC) for Spain 2014. Preliminary results suggest that adolescents have better well-being levels in two-homes than in single-parent households but lower outcomes than those living in intact families.

High-conflict divorces from a child’s perspective

Kim Bastaits, Inge Pasteels

PXL University College, Belgium

Many studies have concentrated on the link between a parental divorce and children’s well-being. Whereas the early research on this topic claimed that a parental divorce ipso facto had negative consequences for children’s well-being, in recent decades it became clear that especially a high-conflict parental divorce has a negative impact on children’s well-being, according to the parental conflict theory (Fisher, 2004). Most studies rely on parental insights concerning their conflict, leaving the perspective of the child out of the picture. Moreover, most studies compare high-conflict divorces with low-conflict divorces and do not distinguish between different types of high-conflict divorces that children can experience. Consequently, this study aims to (1) gain insight in different types of high-conflict divorces according to children and (2) investigate how these different types of high-conflict divorces affect children’s well-being.

Therefore, we use a dyadic subsample (n = 451) of the DiF-dataset, which contains information on divorced parents and their children. First, a latent class analysis is performed to identify different types of high conflict divorces according to children. Second, a possible relation between those types of parental divorces and children’s well-being is examined using multiple regression models. Preliminary results indicate that children distinguish four types of parental divorces: low conflict divorces (47,3%), resolved verbal conflict divorces (36,6%), resolved physical conflict divorces (7,4%) and ongoing high conflict divorces (8,7%). Especially the ongoing parental conflict can affect children’s well-being negatively, with a lower life satisfaction for boys and higher externalizing problem behavior for girls.

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