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The Life Course of Children of Divorce: Marital Disruption and Parental Contact

Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr., Christine Winquist Nord, James L. Peterson and Nicholas Zill
American Sociological Review
Vol. 48, No. 5 (Oct., 1983), pp. 656-668
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2094925
Page Count: 13
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The Life Course of Children of Divorce: Marital Disruption and Parental Contact
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Abstract

In a preliminary analysis of data from a nationally representative sample of U.S. children aged 11 to 16 in 1981, the authors examine (1) the incidence of marital disruption in children's lives; (2) the type of living arrangements children experience following a disruption; and (3) the amount of contact children maintain with the outside parent. The analysis reveals large racial differences in both the incidence and aftermath of disruption. Blacks were one-and-a-half times as likely as whites to have undergone a disruption by early adolescence; within five years of a disruption, however, only one out of eight black children, compared with four out of seven white children, were in a stepfamily. Frequent contact with the outside parent (an average of at least once a week for the past year) occurred in only 17 percent of the disrupted families irrespective of race. Provision of child support, residential propinquity of the outside parent, and the length of time since separation occurred were the most important factors in accounting for amount of contact between the outside parent and the child.

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