Abstract and Keywords
This chapter provides an update on current research concerning marital dissolution: its history, epidemiology/demography, causes, correlates/consequences, and emerging themes in the literature (including cohabitation, stepfamilies, legal interventions for complex family situations, behavior and genetic studies of family functioning, and the potential mechanisms of child and adult resilience in the face of divorce). In the United States, the divorce rate rests near 40 percent of all first marriages; this statistic, however, masks considerable variability in risk for divorce as a function of education and socioeconomic standing, among other factors. Furthermore, the fastest growing family form in the United States is nonmarital unions, and relatively few high-quality data exist on the rates at which these relationships dissolve and how family arrangements (e.g., child custody) are decided in these situations. The chapter closes with a series of questions that are open for future research. We emphasize the need to conduct more research on prevention programs (including mandated parenting education programs and voluntary multisession group treatments for parents and children) and to develop a deeper understanding of how the intervention and prevention programs can be best applied to complex family situations.
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