Co-parents happier than single parents and non-resident parents (research)

Are Parents with Shared Residence Happier ? Children’s Post-divorce Residence Arrangements and Parents’ Life Satisfaction

Source: Stockholm Research Reports in Demography 2015: 17

Franciëlla van der Heijden, Utrecht University
Michael Gähler, SOFI, Stockholm University
Juho Härkönen, Department of Sociology, Stockholm University

This study investigates whether shared residence parents experience higher life satisfaction than sole and non-resident parents, and whether frequent visitation is similarly related to parents’ life satisfaction as shared residence. Regression analyses on data from 4,175 recently divorced parents show that shared residence parents report higher life satisfaction than other, particularly non-resident, parents, but that this relationship can largely be explained by benefits and opportunity costs of parenthood. Shared residence fathers enjoy a better relationship with their child and their ex-partner and are more engaged in leisure activities than nonresident fathers. Shared residence mothers are more involved in leisure activities, employment, and romantic relationships than sole resident mothers. These differences contribute to the shared residence parents’ higher life satisfaction. Frequent interaction between the non-resident father and the child could partly, but not completely, substitute for shared residence, increasing both non-resident fathers’ and sole mothers’ life satisfaction.

Keywords: Divorce, Joint physical custody, Life satisfaction, Living arrangements, Parents, Shared residence, Subjective well-being.

Download the full report:!/menu/standard/file/SRRD_2015_17.pdf

Definition Shared residence (also called joint physical custody, shared placement, or alternating residence), in which children reside more or less equally with each parent, has become a popular post-dissolution residence arrangement in several Western countries.

Key Extracts:

” . . . . Fathers  who  see  their  child  several  times  a  week  are  as  satisfied  with  their lives as shared residence fathers and fathers’ life satisfaction decreases the less they see their child.  There  is,  however,  a  caveat  for  concluding  that  frequent  visitation  can  replace  shared residency  as  a provider  of  life  satisfaction:  nonresident  fathers’  child  visitation  seems  to compete with involvement in a new romantic relationship (which increases life satisfaction).”

” . . .  Once  repartnering  was  controlled  for,  even  frequently  visiting  fathers  had lower  life satisfaction than shared residence fathers. Shared residence fathers thus benefit from having a better relationship with their child even compared to frequently visiting nonresident fathers.”

” . . . . . . Our  findings  are  generally  similar  to  those  by  Sodermans  and  colleagues  (2015),  the only previous study to analyze residence arrangements’ importance for parental well-being. We,  too,  found  that  the  parent-child  relationship  and  leisure  activities  account  for  an important share of the life satisfaction differences by residence arrangements. In addition, we analyzed  the  importance  of  repartnering,  parental  conflict,  and  employment  as  explanations and  importantly,  showed  that  frequent  visitation  of  the  nonresident  parent  cannot  fully substitute for shared residence in shaping parental well-being.”

” . . . . Despite these limitations, our study has shown that parents with shared residence are more  satisfied  with  their  lives  than  parents  with  a  different  arrangement  because they  can engage in a larger number of satisfying activities. It also showed that while frequent visitation of the non-resident parent has similar life satisfaction effects, it is not a perfect substitute for shared  residence.  Our  findings  have  thus  added  to  the  literature  suggesting  that  shared residence is a favorable post-family dissolution arrangement for children and adults alike.”

Click to access SRRD_2015_17.pdf

About Pieter Tromp MSc (PEF - president)

Pieter Tromp MSc is president of the European NGO 'Platform for European Fathers' (PEF) and chairman of the Dutch NGO Father Knowledge Centre (Vader Kennis Centrum) Email:
This entry was posted in Divorce, Equal Parenting, Joint physical custody, Living arrangements, Netherlands, Shared residence, Sweden. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Co-parents happier than single parents and non-resident parents (research)

  1. AdVader says:

    whatever, divorce is child abuse to begin with!

  2. Abuse is to alienate and exclude a child from its other parent after parental separation, whether resident or non resident.

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