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Co-parenting styles, custody, and parenting conflict prior to divorce as predictors of child outcomes in divorce

Payne, Jana
The purpose of this study is to better understand the role of co-parenting styles as a predictor of child outcomes and a moderator in the relationship between divorce factors such as parent conflict prior to divorce (PCPD) or child custody arrangements and divorce-related child outcomes. Multiple regression was used to test (a) co-parenting style, custody, and PCPD as predictors of child prosocial behaviors and total difficulties, (b) co-parenting styles as a moderator in the relationships between PCPD and child prosocial behaviors and total difficulties, and (c) co-parenting style as a moderator between child custody and child prosocial behaviors and total difficulties. Analyses were tested in female (N = 4,556) and male (N = 3,532) samples separately. Multiple regression without interactions showed that co-parenting styles, child custody, and PCPD each predicted unique variance in both child prosocial behavior and total difficulties outcomes. The two cooperative co-parenting styles (perfect pals and cooperative colleagues) and the single-parent co-parenting style (dissolved duos) all predicted more favorable child outcomes than the two more conflictual co-parenting styles (angry associates and fiery foes) in both the male and female samples. There was a significant interaction between co-parenting styles and PCPD in predicting child total difficulties in the male sample, with the positive relationship between PCPD and total difficulties being stronger for the fiery foes group compared to every other group. There was also a significant interaction between child custody and co-parenting styles in predicting both child prosocial behaviors and total difficulties in the female sample. The findings of this study have important implications for co-parenting educators, mental health professionals, and other professionals who work with divorcing families.