Separation and Divorce

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					Separation and
       Chapter 15
Separation and Divorce
   Divorce rates and our reactions have changed
   About 20% of American adults have divorced at
    least once.
   85% of divorced mothers have custody of their
   Nearly 40% of students using this textbook probably
    come from divorced homes.
Process and Outcome
   Separation

       may be a temporary time out from a stressful
        marriage, allowing partners to decide whether to
        continue the marriage and to see what living apart
        feels like.

       may be a permanent arrangement because some
        religious beliefs do not allow divorce.

       Most states require legal separation—a temporary
        period of living apart—before granting a divorce.
    Process and Outcome
   Phases of Separation:
       Preseparation
           Partners may fantasize about living alone, escaping family
            responsibilities, or forming new sexual liaisons.
           The couple splits up.
           They often maintain a pretense that nothing is wrong.
       Early Separation
           Social norms are unclear concerning who should move out, what they
            should tell people, and who gets what.
           Partners may have ambivalent feelings toward leaving the marriage.
           They must confront economic issues.
       Midseparation
           Pressures of maintaining two households and meeting children’s needs
            mount, stress intensifies.
           Couples may experience “pseudo-reconciliation,” moving back together
            because of separation problems, but this rarely lasts.
       Late Separation
           Partners must learn how to survive as singles again.
               Especially stressful for men raised with traditional gender role expectations
               Both partners must help children deal with the separation.
Outcomes of
Marital Separation
   Approximately 10% of currently married U.S.
    couples who have separated later reconciled.
       Women separating after age 23 are more likely to reconcile
        than are younger women.
   Most people who separate end the marriage with
    divorce, but 6% never make the divorce official.
       Long-term separations are most likely among those with
        lower education, lower income, and the unemployed.
   Divorce, the legal and formal dissolution of a
    marriage, is not a new phenomenon.
       Termination of marriage has been permitted for at least
        4,000 years in some cultures.
Trends in Divorce
   About one in five
    Americans has ever been
       Rates are lower than those
        incorrectly reported by the
       Rates increased until the
        1980s, but have been
        decreasing since 1995.
         Cohabitating and then
           breaking up - e.g.
           remaining single - has the
           effect of decreasing
           divorce rates.
The Process of Divorce
   According to Bohannon (1971), there are six “stations” of divorce.
       Emotional divorce
           begins before any legal steps are taken. One or both partners may feel
            disillusioned, unhappy, or rejected, and detach emotionally.
       Legal divorce
           Legal Divorce is the formal dissolution of the marriage. Partners settle issues
            such as child custody and property division. One spouse may pay Alimony
            (spousal maintenance) or Child support (child rearing expenses).
       Economic divorce
           Couples argue about finances such as children’s expenses and retirement.
       Coparental divorce
           involves agreements regarding legal responsibility for financial support of the
            children, day to day care, and custodial rights.
       Community Divorce
           Relationships with friends, acquaintances, and relatives may change.
       Psychic divorce
           Couples separate from each other emotionally and establish separate lives.
Why do People Divorce?
   Macro (societal)                      Micro (interpersonal)
       Changing social institutions          Unrealistic expectations
       Low social integration                Conflict and Abuse
       Changing gender roles
                                              Infidelity
       Cultural values
                                              Communication
       Technology
Why do People Divorce?
   Demographic
       Parental divorce
       Age at marriage
       Premarital pregnancy and
       Presence of children
       Race and ethnicity
       Social Class
       Religion
How Divorce Affects Adults
   Physical, Emotional, and Psychological Effects
       Divorced people report greater social isolation, economic
        hardship, and stress, and have less social support and less
        satisfying sex lives.
       Preexisting problems, rather than (or in addition to) the
        divorce, may lower people’s well-being.
   Economic and Financial Changes
       Divorced couples often have two sets of expenses.
       Alimony is less common than in the past.
       The economic well being of mothers typically declines by
        36% and financial status of fathers improves by 28%.
    Custody Issues
   Custody is a court mandated ruling as to which parent will have
    primary responsibility for the children’s welfare and upbringing.
     In sole custody (81%) one parent has sole responsibility for raising
       the child and the other parent has specified visitation rights.
     In split custody (2%) the children are divided between the parents
       either by sex or by the children’s choice.
     In joint custody (16%) the children divide their time between parents
       who share in decisions about their upbringing.
          In joint legal custody parents share decision making.
          In joint physical custody the court specifies how much time children will
           spend in each parent’s home.
          Co-custody refers to parents equally sharing physical and legal custody.
          Co-custody is a heated issue with mixed outcomes for adults and
    Child Support
   Nearly 50% of all men neither see nor support their
    children after a divorce.
   Average annual child support:
       $3,192 to custodial mothers
       $2,881 to custodial fathers
Child Support
    Child support increases with parental involvement,
     especially joint custody and visitation.
        77% of custodial parents (mostly mothers) receive full or
         partial support payments, compared with 5% of those
         without shared custody or visitations.
    Nonpaying fathers fall into four categories (Nuta, 1986):
      Parent in pain
        feels shut out and distances himself from his children
      Overextended parent
        overburdened with financial obligations
      Vengeful parent
        uses nonpayment to punish his wife
      Irresponsible parent
        does not take parental duties seriously
Child Support
   Enforcement of Child Support
       Federal legislation
         requires states to deduct payments from delinquent
          parents’ paychecks and tax returns,
         mandates award levels to keep up with inflation
         makes it a felony to cross state lines to evade support
       Enforcement of child-support laws is inconsistent.

   Does Child Support Improve Children’s Lives?
       Child support is the second largest source of income for
        employed poor mothers.
       Child support may motivate low-income fathers to work.
       Some fathers who can’t afford support may avoid their
How Divorce Affects Children:
Absent Fathers
   About 15% of fathers get custody of their children.
    31% of noncustodial fathers have no contact with
    children, and only a third see their children at least
    once a week.
   Children who receive child support have better
    educational achievement.
   Children and mothers are better off having minimal
    contact with abusive fathers.
   Fathers who maintain close ties with their children
    can reestablish children’s trust in adults.
    How Divorce Affects Children
   Parents as peers:
       Divorced parents may make the mistake of treating their children like
        peers, seeing them as more mature than they really are and depending
        on them for emotional support.
           The children may feel anger, resentment, sadness, or guilt.
           Sometimes mothers and children may become closer.
   What Hurts Children During and After Divorce?
       Children of divorce experience problems in academic achievement,
        behavior, self-concept, and health.
       Divorce crystallizes rather than creates family problems.
       Parents’ attitudes may affect children more than the divorce itself.
       Ending a highly conflicted marriage may improve children’s well-being.
       Quality of parenting is important in children’s adjustment.
       Financial problems, especially for women, negatively impact children.
       If divorce hurts schooling, the disadvantage cumulates through life.
    How Divorce Affects Children
   What Helps Children During and After Divorce?
     Support from friends, neighbors, and schools.
     Parents who provide warmth, responsiveness, monitoring,
      involvement in activities, and keeping children out of parental
     Reassurance that parents will love and care for children, will
      remain actively involved with them, and that children are free to
      love both parents.
     Open communication between parents and children.
     Emphasis that the children are not responsible for the parents’
     Reassurance that children will continue to see their grandparents
      on both sides.
     An ongoing relationship with the noncustodial parent.
     Teens and young adults want to talk with significant people in
      their lives about their feelings and experiences.
Some Positive Outcomes
of Separation and Divorce
   Most divorced couples and their children adjust and
    function well over time.
   The major positive outcome of divorce is that it
    provides options for people in miserable marriages.
   Parental separation is better for children in the long
    run than remaining in an intact family where there is
    continuous conflict.
   Divorce can offer parents and children growth, better
    relationships, and an improved family life.
Counseling and
Marital Therapy
   Every year over 3% of married couples see a professional for marital
       There are no national scientific studies of effectiveness.
       Counseling can be useful if therapists are impartial.
       Much counseling and therapy fails because of untrained or
        inexperienced therapists.
       Many counselors promote marriage and discourage divorce, which may
        not be beneficial in many cases.
       Not all marriages are salvageable.
   Many jurisdictions order divorcing parents to attend seminars to
    learn about children’s needs during divorce.
   In divorce mediation a trained arbitrator helps the divorcing couple
    agree on custody, support, and property division.
       Divorce mediation increases communication while reducing the time
        needed to negotiate a settlement through the court.
       The less informed spouse may be at a disadvantage in mediation.