Date of Paper

5-2014

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Ande A. Nesmith

Abstract

Today about 50 percent of marriages end in divorce and 40 percent of these divorces have children involved. Divorce can be a traumatic event and because of this divorce can be considered an ambiguous loss. This study looked at the losses that could be experienced by children from a parental divorce. Using attachment theory as the lens, literature was reviewed surrounding the effects of divorce on children. After completing the literature review the loss of the parent-child relationship was the primary focus for this study. A quantitative study was conducted to answer the question: does the custodial arrangement alleviate or exacerbate the loss of the parent-child relationship after a parental divorce? A total of 74 respondents, who experienced a parental divorce as a child, completed a survey to determine their legal custodial arrangement after the divorce and their Parent Child Relationship Survey (PCRS) scale score for both mother and father. The findings of this study concluded that there is a significant difference between a respondent in one legal custodial arrangement to a respondent with a different legal custodial arrangement and their mean PCRS scale score for father but not for mother. Recommendations for further research of other factors that can influence respondent’s parent-child relationship and research before and after the divorce occurred would be beneficial. Implications for social workers were also discussed in providing more education to parents and children experiencing a divorce to support resilience.

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