The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Divorced Mothers' Experiences With Coparenting


  • Human Development & Family Studies, University of Missouri, 411 Gentry Hall, Columbia, MO 65211.

Family Studies & Human Services, Kansas State University, 305 Justin Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506 (


This study produces a grounded theory of how 20 predominantly White, well-educated women experienced sharing physical custody of their children with their former partners after divorce or separation. Three patterns of coparenting were identified in the data: continuously contentious, always amicable, and bad to better. Five negative factors and three positive factors that influenced mothers' coparenting relationships were identified. The type of relationship women had with their ex-partners was related to how they shared custody of their children (e.g., how they exchanged their children). The findings of this study suggest that shared physical custody relationships are dynamic and can vary greatly.