Volume 32 - Article 31 | Pages 859–872  

Post-divorce family trajectories of men and women in Flanders

By Sofie Vanassche, Martine Corijn, Koen Matthijs


Background: Most studies investigating family life after a separation or divorce focus on single or competing events or transitions. Despite the growing popularity of the life-course perspective, few studies have given an overview of the sequence and timing of various post-divorce partner and parenthood trajectories.

Objective: In this study we apply the technique of sequence analysis to describe the complete post-divorce partner and parenthood trajectory of divorced men and women in the first seven years following residential separation from their spouses.

Methods: We use data from Divorce in Flanders, based upon a representative sample of first marriages drawn from the National Register. Our research sample consists of 1,530 men and 1,762 women who had been divorced for at least seven years at the time of interview. Ward’s method is used as a clustering method.

Results: A large proportion of divorced men and women remain single or outside a union, and make no partner or parenthood transition at all. However, we identified eight patterns of post-divorce partner trajectory and eight patterns of post-divorce parenthood trajectory. These trajectories differ from each other in the occurrence, the order, and the timing of specific partner and parenthood transitions.

Conclusions: Our results do not suggest complete de-standardization of the post-divorce family trajectories of men and women, but do suggest a substantial heterogeneity in post-divorce family life. This heterogeneity is often ignored or hidden by focusing on single events or family transitions.

Author's Affiliation

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