Divorced and separated parents during the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant stress for individuals, couples, and families. Divorced and separated couples with children face unique stresses amid the pandemic. This mixed-methods study explored these challenges among 296 divorced and separated parents: namely 204 women formerly partnered with men, 34 men formerly partnered with women, and 58 women formerly partnered with women, who were surveyed during Summer/Fall of 2020. Participants described legal, financial, and coparenting challenges. Those who were not yet divorced described difficulties filing for or finalizing their divorce because of court closures and lack of responsiveness from legal professionals. Those who were already divorced also faced legal challenges, such as being unable to obtain a court date to modify custody arrangements. Financial challenges included renegotiating financial support obligations in the context of job loss. Salient coparenting conflicts, explored through closed- and open-ended questions, included communication issues, different views on virus risk mitigation behaviors, financial issues (especially for those not yet divorced), and transitioning between households and handling remote schooling (especially for those with shared physical custody). Participants elaborated on COVID-19-specific challenges, revealing that (a) lack of communication or agreement regarding shared strategies for risk mitigation reflected and exacerbated challenging dynamics between coparents, (b) remote schooling was often the site of disagreement when one parent felt that they were doing more than their fair share of coordination and oversight, and (c) different perspectives on science were expected to lead to future contention when making a joint decision about whether to vaccinate children. Findings have implications for family and legal professionals working with divorced, divorcing, and separated parents.
Goldberg, Abbie E.; Allen, Katherine R.; and Smith, Juli Anna Z., "Divorced and separated parents during the COVID-19 pandemic" (2021). Psychology. 297.