Marital Disruption, Parent-Child Relationships, and Behavior Problems in Children

ReportFamiliesMay 1 1986

This study examines the effects of marital disruption on children’s behavior, accounting for variations in postdisruption living arrangements and the effects of parent-child relationships and marital conflict. The study is based on a 1981 national sample of 1,400 children aged 12-16. Disruption was associated with a higher incidence of several behavior problems, negative effects being greatest with multiple marital transitions. The negative effects are lower if the child lives with the same-sex parent following divorce or maintains a good relationship with one or both parents. High, persistent conflict in intact families is also related to behavior problems.