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J Fam Psychol. 2011 Jun;25(3):356-65. doi: 10.1037/a0023652.

Predictors of supportive coparenting after relationship dissolution among at-risk parents.

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Department of Human Development and Family Science, The Ohio State University, 135 Campbell Hall, 1787 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Supportive coparenting after relationship dissolution is associated with increased father involvement which can buffer against the negative effects of parental relationship dissolution. Low-income, at-risk families are much more likely to experience relationship dissolutions; hence, supportive coparenting after dissolution is particularly important in these families. We examined whether relationship (commitment and quality) and child (difficult temperament and gender) characteristics predicted initial levels of, and change in, supportive coparenting after relationship dissolution in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 1,603). We used structural equation modeling of latent growth curves to examine four time points collected at the focal child's birth and first, third, and fifth birthdays. Ninety-percent of the mothers had nonmarital births, and about three-quarters had a high school diploma or less education. Overall, supportive coparenting decreased over time. Mothers in more committed relationships prior to the dissolution initially had significantly lower supportive coparenting. But over time, mothers who had been in more committed relationships increased in supportive coparenting. Mothers who had been in higher quality relationships prior to dissolution initially reported more supportive coparenting. At each time point, if a mother was romantically involved with a new partner, she reported significantly lower supportive coparenting compared to mothers who were single. With regard to child characteristics, mothers who reported their child as more difficult had significantly lower initial supportive coparenting. Similar results for fathers are discussed. Overall, the relationship characteristics of parents were important predictors of supportive coparenting both initially and over time.

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