The Intergenerational Effects of Parental Divorce on Young Adult Relationships

Skyer W. Roper, Stephen T. Fife, Ryan B. Seedall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Due to the current high rates of divorce, many young adults have experienced the effects of parental divorce. Although a large body of research has investigated both the positive and negative intrapersonal implications of divorce for individuals, relatively little research has looked at the interpersonal effects of parental divorce. Yet divorce likely influences both parent-child relationships and young adult romantic relationships. The purpose of this study was to explore more fully how parental divorce affects young adult relationships by investigating the relationship between divorce and parent-adult child relationship quality, perceived comfort within close relationships (i.e., attachment), romantic relationship satisfaction, and individual distress (depression, anxiety, and stress). Data analysis revealed that those who experience parental divorce are more likely to have lower parental regard, report lower relationship satisfaction, and experience relationship distress than those who did not even when controlling for the overall family environment. Clinicians may utilize the results of this study when working with individuals, couples, and families where divorce has occurred.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-266
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Divorce and Remarriage
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 18 2020


  • Divorce
  • divorce adjustment
  • emerging adulthood
  • parental divorce
  • therapy
  • young adult relationships
  • young adults


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