Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Children's Postdivorce Residence Arrangements and Parental Experienced Time Pressure

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Children's Postdivorce Residence Arrangements and Parental Experienced Time Pressure

Article excerpt

Joint physical custody of children after divorce has become increasingly common (e.g., Cancian, Meyer, Brown, & Cook, 2014; Trinder, 2010). The terms joint physical custody, shared residence (the term used in this study), and shared placement refer to a residence arrangement in which children alternate living between parents (Bartfeld, 2011). Several countries, such as Australia, the Netherlands, and Belgium, have adopted policies that encourage shared residence, under the assumption that shared residence buffers the negative effects of divorce on children (Fehlberg, Smyth, Maclean, & Roberts, 2011; McIntosh, 2009; Sodermans, Matthijs, & Swicegood, 2013).

There is considerable debate, however, on whether shared residence is beneficial for children (e.g., Harris-Short, 2010). Some scholars suggest that the involvement of both parents in children's lives is beneficial, whereas others note the possible stressful effects of having to transition between parents or of being continually exposed to parental conflict (Amato, Meyers, & Emery, 2009; Cashmore et al., 2010).

Surprisingly, the debate on the pros and cons of shared residence disregards the consequences for parents, although similar arguments may apply (for exceptions, see Botterman, Sodermans, & Matthijs, 2015; Sodermans, Botterman, Havermans, & Matthijs, 2015). Parents are likely to be affected by their children's residence arrangements because child-care responsibilities vary considerably. Shared residence allows parents to benefit from the other parent's resources; as a result of sharing child-care tasks, the demands and stresses of child rearing may decrease. In contrast, shared residence may be particularly stressful because parents must coordinate child-care tasks (Bauserman, 2012).

We therefore shift the focus to parents and investigate the relationship between children's residence arrangements and the time pressure experienced by parents. Time pressure relates to feelings of not having enough time to meet demands and feelings of being rushed when meeting demands, which may result in psychological and health problems (e.g., Kleiner, 2014; Roxburgh, 2004). Residence arrangements may affect the amount of time parents spend caring for their children and coordinating child care, which might lead to differences in perceived time pressure.

We distinguish between two aspects of residence arrangements: the main residence of the child (i.e., mother, father, or shared residence) and the visitation of nonresident parents. This distinction is important because the child-care tasks and responsibilities that are associated with main residence may be more structural and demanding than those associated with visitation (e.g., Stewart, 1999), thereby suggesting a stronger relationship to time pressure.

To study the relationship between residence arrangements and the time pressure experienced by parents, we use recent large-scale data on formerly married or formerly cohabiting parents with minor children in the Netherlands (N = 4,460). The data include a relatively large number of parents with shared residence and detailed measures of residence arrangements and time pressure. We control for conflict between parents and for other family and work demands that are known to affect time pressure.

Theoretical Framework

To understand the relationship between children's postdivorce residence arrangements and time pressure, we follow the work-family literature (e.g., Bianchi & Milkie, 2010) by focusing on the demands that parents must meet (Karasek, 1979). Demands are "structural or psychological claims associated with role requirements, expectations, and norms to which individuals must respond or adapt by exerting physical or mental effort" (Voydanoff, 2005, p. 823). Additional demands increase individuals' feelings of time pressure via the enduring negative stress that demands can create (Kleiner, 2014).

Researchers often distinguish between family demands, such as child care, and work demands (e. …

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