Children’s Personality and Coping with Residential Instability after Divorce: Evidence for an Asymmetric Matthew Effect

An Katrien Sodermans, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Sofie Vanassche, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Recent changes in custody law have made joint physical custody the preferred residential model after divorce. However, commuting between parental households may put children under stress, as they continuously need to adapt to two different family settings. Coping with transitions is known to be highly affected by children’s personality and children with an ‘easy’ personality can better handle changing situational demands. In this study, we will investigate whether the association between children’s custody arrangement and their subjective well-being differs according to their personality. Data are used from the Leuven Adolescents and Families Study. We find evidence for an asymmetric Matthew effect. For children with a resilient personality the custody arrangement does not affect well-being. Children with a more vulnerable personality experience a cumulative disadvantage in custody arrangements that deviate from standard mother custody. Nonetheless, compensation effects exist between having a difficult personality and a good parent-child relationship.

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Presented in Poster Session 4