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Keywords:

  • depression;
  • divorce;
  • family structure;
  • mental health;
  • National Survey of Families and Households;
  • parenthood

Substantial evidence indicates that marital dissolution has negative consequences for adult well-being. Because most research focuses on the average consequences of divorce, we know very little about factors that moderate this association. The present study tests the hypothesis that the effects of marital dissolution on adult well-being are greatest for those with young children in the home at the time of marital dissolution. Analysis of data from the National Survey of Families and Households (N= 4,811 men and women married at the baseline interview) supports this hypothesis, especially among women. For women without young children, marital dissolution appears to have few negative consequences for psychological well-being. Differential exposure to secondary stressors that accompany marital dissolution partly explains these patterns.