While a growing body of research documents the potentially negative effects of divorce and remarriage on parents and their children, little is known about how divorced families negotiate the process of dating and cohabitation, toward becoming repartnered and eventually remarried. The substantial gap in the literature concerning cohabitation is particularly surprising, given that it provides the most common path to remarriage and may be a particularly difficult time for families. Thus, the specific aims of the proposed study are to: document the developmental course of transitioning into dating, repartnering, and remarriage; investigate parents' decision-making strategies concerning the repartnering process; examine parents' management of relationships within repartnered families; test the viability of a theoretical model of the repartnering process for adult and child behavioral and mental health functioning, and family relationships. The sample will consist of 360 divorcing families (divorced parent and child ages 4-9) drawn from the court records of an ethnically and economically diverse region in Texas, with an over-sampling of families from Hispanic and African American backgrounds. Families will be studied over the course of 24 months, using a combination of observational, self-report, and archival measures at five standard time points specified at six-month intervals and augmented by reports from teachers. Additionally, parents will be queried on a monthly basis to determine if key relationship transition in the repartnering process has occurred, such as beginning to date or deciding to cohabitate. As these events occur, supplemental assessments will be scheduled, which may include the new romantic partner. Data will be analyzed using longitudinal growth modeling, survival analysis, and sequential analysis, thereby exploiting two strengths of this study, the unique time-informative longitudinal design and the intensive observational assessments of family interaction.
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