University of Central Florida Undergraduate Research Journal - Positive Outcomes of Divorce: A Multi-Method Study on the Effects of Parental Divorce on Children
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Introduction

Divorce rates in the United States have experienced highs and lows, peaking in the 1970s and declining throughout the 1980s (National Center for Health Statistics 1999) and finally stabilizing at about 3.7 per 1,000 total population (National Vital Statistics System 2000-2001). During the periods of rising divorce rates, scholars focused not only on the underlying causes of divorce but also on the implications and effects divorce has on children. Some, such as Wallerstein (1991), believed that all cases of divorce affected children negatively—primarily in regards to such factors as post-divorce parent-child relationships, children's living arrangements, and parental relocation—and that there were no instances in which children or adolescents could benefit from their parents' divorce. This perspective was later criticized by researchers who argued that the absolutist approach failed to take into account the nature of relationships before and after the divorce, suggesting that conflict between family members was more important than the occurrence of divorce in determining the children's wellbeing (Fabricius 2003; Amato, Kane, and James 2011). Research shows that removing children from high-conflict households provides children with the opportunity to develop in an environment with fewer stressors, mitigating poor academic performance and behavioral and psychological problems (Amato et al. 2011). Nonetheless, most research on children of divorce continue to explore the negative effects rather than any positive outcomes.

The purpose of this multi-method study is to contribute to the growing body of literature on divorce by examining the outcomes and consequences of parental divorce on young adults. Since the subjects of previous research findings focus on negative outcomes of divorce, this study will explore whether having experienced parental divorce has any significant positive impact on how young adults form and maintain romantic relationships.

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