Co-Parenting and Child Wellbeing after Unmarried Parents Part

Julia S. Goldberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Marcia J. Carlson, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Nonmarital childbearing has increased dramatically in recent decades, and the majority of unmarried couples will break up while their child is still young. As a result, the extent to which unmarried parents living apart are able to cooperate in childrearing may have important implications for children’s wellbeing and development. In this paper, we use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to describe patterns of co-parenting over six years following the end of a nonmarital relationship, to identify individual and interpersonal characteristics associated with better co-parenting, and to examine whether co-parenting is linked with behavioral problems over child ages three through nine. Preliminary results indicate that co-parenting declines slightly after relationships end, and that mothers’ and fathers’ relationships and childbearing with new partners are highly predictive of co-parenting. Better co-parenting is associated with fewer child behavioral problems, highlighting the potential importance of co-parenting for children's wellbeing over time.

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Presented in Session 4: Children in Diverse Living Arrangements