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06-11-2018 | Original Paper | Uitgave 2/2019 Open Access

Journal of Child and Family Studies 2/2019

Reconciling Mixed Findings on Children’s Adjustment Following High-Conflict Divorce

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 2/2019
Auteurs:
Reine C. van der Wal, Catrin Finkenauer, Margreet M. Visser

Abstract

Despite important advances, empirical evidence regarding the impact of divorce on children is mixed, ranging widely in its conclusions regarding the intensity, chronicity, and harmfulness of parental divorce on their post-divorce adjustment. To explain the broad range of findings, we suggest that successful and dysfunctional adjustment following parental divorce may not be mutually exclusive. Rather, they may be partly independent, and children may report divorce-specific traumatic feelings as well as a relatively high post-divorce adjustment. We examined these suggestions in a sample of 142 six-to-18-year-old Dutch children whose parents were involved in high-conflict divorces. Children completed self-reported measures of post-divorce traumatic impact and adjustment. Consistent with our suggestion, children showed, on average, both high levels of trauma and high levels of post-divorce adjustment. Nevertheless, illustrating domain spill-over, at the individual level, children who experienced more traumatic impact of the divorce also reported lower levels of post-divorce adjustment. These results suggest that high-conflict divorce represents a risk for traumatic impact, and, at the same time, children demonstrate resilience. Future research examining which children are more susceptible to trauma and/or resilience over time would be promising.

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