Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Repartnering Following Divorce: Implications for Older Fathers' Relations with Their Adult Children

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Repartnering Following Divorce: Implications for Older Fathers' Relations with Their Adult Children

Article excerpt

This study examined the implications of post-divorce fathers' new unions and additional (step)children for two aspects of older fathers' relations with adult children born from a prior relationship: frequency of social contact and fathers' financial transfers. Data from multiple waves of the Health and Retirement Study (N = 13,017 observations on 4,997 adult children belonging to 1,917 ever-divorced fathers) were used to estimate multilevel models. The results indicated that divorced fathers who go on to form a new union have weaker relations with adult children from a prior union than their post-divorce counterparts who remain single. This finding partly reflects the detrimental effects of repartnered older fathers' new biological children and stepchildren. There is no difference between older remarried and cohabiting fathers' intergenerational ties. Moreover, fathers' additional biological children and stepchildren have similarly negative effects on fathers' relations with adult children from a previous union.

Key Words: aging, cohabitation, divorce, financial transfer, intergenerational contact, remarriage.

The weakening effects of parental divorce for older fathers' ties to their adult children are well documented. Relative to their continuously married counterparts, older divorced fathers have less intergenerational contact (Aquilino, 1994b; Cooney & Uhlenberg, 1990; Kalmijn, 2007; Lye, Klepinger, Hyle, & Nelson, 1995; Shapiro, 2003) and are less likely to engage in transfers of both time and money with their adult offspring (Amato, Rezac, & Booth, 1995; Furstenberg, Floffman, & Shrestha, 1995; Kalmijn, 2007; Lin, 2008; Pezzin & Schone, 1999; White, 1992).

Largely overlooked in studies of older postdivorce fathers' intergenerational relations is the role of fathers' new unions in shaping their ties with adult children (Kalmijn, 2007). Yet, recent estimates indicate that well over three fourths of all men who experience a divorce go on to remarry (Kreider & Fields, 2001; Schoen & Standish). Relative to more recent cohorts, the generations of men who are currently poised to enter later life were exposed to even higher remarriage rates (Schoen & Standish, 2001). Therefore, a notable proportion of divorced fathers' children will have experienced their father's remarriage by the time they reach adulthood (Ahrons & Tanner, 2003; M. Coleman, Ganong, & Fine, 2000; Juby, Billette, Laplante, & Le Bourdais, 2007). Moreover, although most repartnered postdivorce older adults are remarried, the prevalence of cohabitation among older divorced individuals is rapidly increasing (Brown, Bulanda, & Lee, 2005; Brown, Lee, & Bulanda, 2006). The numbers of later life postdivorce cohabiting relationships and remarriages are likely to grow substantially in the next few decades with the aging of the large Baby Boom generation, who experienced unprecedented high levels of divorce (Brown et ah, 2005, 2006; M. Coleman et ah). These trends have raised concern among researchers and policymakers that ever-divorced older fathers and their adult children may cumulate both the negative implications of union dissolution and detrimental effects of postdivorce fathers' new partnerships (Aquilino, 1994a; Clark & Kenney, 2010; Kalmijn, 2007; Lye et ah, 1995; Wallerstein & Lewis, 2009).

This study addresses this concern by using four waves (2000, 2002, 2004, and 2008) of nationally representative longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). I contrast single divorced fathers' intergenerational ties with adult children from a prior union to those of divorced fathers who went on to form a new union. A second purpose of this research is to investigate the role of new unions in older fathers' intergenerational relations in combination with the role of fathers' additional (step)children (Kalmijn, 2007). The study focuses on two measures of father - adult child relations: social contact and fathers' financial assistance to their adult children. …

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