The overarching goal of this study is to explore pathways and outcomes associated with mothers'postseparation coparenting relationships, with a particular focus on experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV). The quality of coparenting relationships after separation is known to have a major impact on parental and child health outcomes. Although many separated and divorced women have experienced IPV, studies only rarely distinguish relationships that are characterized by violence as opposed to conflict. Women with children may be at particular risk for ongoing violence after separation due to their continued contact with former partners as coparents, and violence may exacerbate the negative effects associated with coparenting conflict in general. To explore these complex issues, the proposed prospective study brings together two bodies of theory and literature: IPV and coparenting after separation/divorce. The study aims are to delineate trajectories of coparenting relationships among mothers with and without a history of marital IPV, identify potential predictors (risk and protective factors) of differences in coparenting relationships after separation, and examine the effects of differences in coparenting relationships on mothers'and their children's health over time. A randomly selected sample of 120 mothers who filed for divorce within the last 12 weeks will be recruited through public divorce records in Champaign County, Illinois and interviewed five times over one year. Longitudinal data analytic techniques will be used to examine relationship trajectories and evaluate key pieces of the integrated conceptual model. Consistent with the goals of the R21 mechanism, this exploratory/ developmental study will position the P.I. to submit a future R01 application aimed at further model testing and refinement. In addition, the study will contribute to the theoretical, methodological, and applied literatures. The conceptual model integrates theory and findings from two largely disparate fields;bringing these bodies of knowledge together will allow us to answer questions that cut across these areas. The synthesis will also allow us to differentiate coparenting relationships and health outcomes among divorcing mothers affected by IPV compared to divorcing mothers in general. Finally, the research will generate findings that can be used to inform policy and practice. For example, post-divorce interventions typically assume that parents are capable of cooperating, which may be unrealistic and unsafe for some women. Also, understanding how IPV affects divorcing mothers can inform efforts within health care settings to identify abused women at the highest risk for negative health outcomes. The proposed study is part of a larger program of research that will ultimately generate data to inform the debate of how policies and programs can best meet the unique needs of those most vulnerable to ongoing violence and negative health outcomes.

Public Health Relevance

The study is directly relevant to several focus areas laid out in Healthy People 2010, including injury and violence prevention, maternal and child health, and mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and PTSD.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
Program Officer
Maholmes, Valerie
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University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Schools of Earth Sciences/Natur
United States
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Hardesty, Jennifer L; Ogolsky, Brian G; Raffaelli, Marcela et al. (2017) Coparenting relationship trajectories: Marital violence linked to change and variability after separation. J Fam Psychol 31:844-854
Hardesty, Jennifer L; Crossman, Kimberly A; Khaw, Lyndal et al. (2016) Marital violence and coparenting quality after separation. J Fam Psychol 30:320-30
Haselschwerdt, Megan L; Mitchell, Elissa Thomann; Raffaelli, Marcela et al. (2016) Divorcing Mothers' Use of Protective Strategies: Differences Over Time and by Violence Experience. Psychol Violence 6:182-192
Hardesty, Jennifer L; Crossman, Kimberly A; Haselschwerdt, Megan L et al. (2015) Toward a Standard Approach to Operationalizing Coercive Control and Classifying Violence Types. J Marriage Fam 77:833-843