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Session Overview
RN13_05a: Family dissolution and post-divorce families I
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Baptiste Coulmont, Université Paris 8
Session Chair: Morena Tartari, University of Padova
Location: UP.2.218
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Second Floor Oxford Road

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Does Fathers’ Involvement in Childcare and Housework Affect Couples’ Relationship Stability?

Helen Norman, Mark Elliot, Colette Fagan

University of Manchester, United Kingdom

Understanding the conditions that lead to parental divorce or separation is important given the emotional, health, social, and economic costs for couples and their children. Empirical evidence shows that paternal involvement in childcare and housework has a positive effect on the quality and stability of the parental relationship (e.g. Pleck and Masciadrelli 2004; Hohmann-Marriott 2009; Schober 2012). However, ‘involvement’ is overwhelmingly treated as a singular phenomenon, which presupposes homogeneity in how the ‘type of involvement’ may influence the parental relationship. The implications of engaging in different types of domestic activity are rarely considered even though this may affect the parental relationship in different ways. To address this, our paper investigates whether paternal involvement in particular childcare and housework tasks affects the probability of relationship breakdown between parents. We use logistic regression on four sweeps of the UK’s Millennium Cohort Study (2000-08) to predict parental relationship breakdown from nine months to seven years post-childbirth. We find that the amount of time a father spends alone, caring for the baby during the first year of parenthood is important for the longer term stability of the parental relationship. Not only does this have important social and policy implications, the results underline the importance of solo-paternal care during the very early stages of parenthood.

The Role of Emotions in Defining High Conflict Divorce

Inge Pasteels

PXL University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Belgium

High conflict divorces have large impact on the well-being of ex-partners and children. However, clear indicators that distinguish high conflict divorces from other types of divorce aren’t revealed yet. In this paper we try to define high conflict divorce and we explore the role of emotions in developing such definition as considered by different actors. First, we explore narratives about high conflict divorce of male and female divorcees and compare these narratives to those of mediators and other professionals in the domain of divorce and separation. Second, we use standardized measures to build a classification of divorces in order to define high conflict divorces in a more quantitative way. Finally, we compare narratives of divorcees with their scores on such quantitative scales in order to gain insight in the validity of standardized measures.

Qualitative data used for these analyses stem from 62 in depth-interviews with male and female divorcees, quantitative data are collected in the Divorce in Flanders project.

First, results clearly show that the importance of emotions as external marker in order to define high conflict divorces differs between divorcees and professionals. Second, within the group of divorcees, the level of conflict experienced by the divorcee in his/her own divorce has a crucial impact on the relevance of mentioning emotions as an important element in defining and distinguishing high conflict divorces.

Who Cares? The Effect Of Post-Separation Life Course And Labor Force Dynamics On Co-Parenting

Elke Claessens, Dimitri Mortelmans

University of Antwerp, Belgium

Until the end of the 20th century, child custody arrangements after separation typically continued the societally dominant and gendered pre-separation parenting division, with mothers taking up care for the children and fathers paying child support to compensate for their unequal share of childcare (DiFonzo, 2014; Vanassche, Sodermans, Declerck, & Matthijs, 2017). Since then there has been a significant rise in co-parenting after separation, reflecting the trend towards more socio-economic, work- and childcare-related gender equality during the relationship (Nielsen, 2013; Trinder, 2010). However, it remains unclear to what extent the organization of the pre-separation household dominates over important changes in the lives and labor force participation of parents after separation in choosing to co-parent.

This study uses longitudinal Belgian register data to look into the largely unexplored – but potentially crucial – role played by post-separation dynamics in parents’ life course and labor force participation in deciding to co-parent. While certain pre-separation characteristics remain predictive of having a co-parenting arrangement, our results suggest a societal trend towards co-parenting as the parenting norm. Although bargaining power in terms of income and pre-separation division of work are generally seen as arguments to obtain sole custody, we find no effect of a post-separation income increase on the probability of co-parenting. Furthermore, we see that increased time in paid work positively affects co-parenting probabilities, which is similar for men and women. As such, the investigated post-separation changes seem to be an indication of parents moving towards supporting and attempting to gain gender equal parenting after separation.

Long-term Trends of Remarriage in Lithuania

Ernesta Platukyte

Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania

The growing number of divorces increases the circle of people with previous marriages who re-enter the “marriage market” and create a family with a new partner. Thus, divorce allows individuals to decide whether they will create a new partnership or remain lonely. This presentation attempts to review the long-term trends of remarriages in Lithuania through different decades of the 20th century. The research is based on the review of legal marriage and divorce registration procedures in the beginning of the 20th century in Lithuania and other available demographic data. Analysing the registration of legal civil marriages and procedures of divorces legalisation it is possible to argue divorce became an integral part of the Soviet legacy that strongly influenced choices of a modern person. The legalisation of the divorce helped the emergence of the remarriage demographic. In a long-term perspective, the number of remarriages has been increasing for both men and women, but men have more chances to remarry. Thus, it is obvious that gender and age are important factors determining the course of partnership history after divorce.

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