Study Highlights Divorced Couples Who Stay Together, Co-Parent


  • The results of the study show that both men and women rate their co-parenting relationship as being of a higher quality when they also have ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse.
  • Children have to have time to process the new arrangement.
  • The economy has forced divorced couples to consider becoming roommates.

Typically, when a couple gets divorced, that’s it. The marital part of their relationship is over. They can be civil and sometimes stay the best of friends. They can co-parent with one another, in an effort to raise their mutual children, but typically, romance is no longer present in their personal dynamics.

This is typically the case, except for those that keep their romantic relationship going even after their divorce has been finalized.

The study

A recent study, conducted by M. Selenga Gürman of Ozyegin University in Istanbul, Scott C. Huff of the Discovery Ranch for Girls in Utah, Edna Brown of the University of Connecticut, Terri L. Orbuch of the University of Michigan, and Kira S. Birditt of the University of Michigan, has been published in the Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, and it focuses on this exact situation. It highlights couples who divorced, but still are together in a romantic personal relationship, who also are co-parents.

According to the study, they examined the ongoing personal and emotional involvement between former spouses and its association with the perceptions of the quality of the co-parenting relationship. Out of the 54 formerly married couples, both men and women rate their co-parenting relationship as being of a higher quality when they also have ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse.

This study also revealed that when men reported ongoing involvement, their former wives reported better co-parenting. However, the opposite was not found.

The pattern found in the study held true for both African American and Caucasian American participants.

Thinking about it

This study examines an interesting phenomenon of divorced couples who choose to stay together after the divorce. Part of the confusion that the average individual, not involved in the relationship, has stems from a lack of understanding. When someone thinks about divorce, they are thinking about the end of a marriage. Typically, they are thinking of it as two people who were unhappy with one another, who treated one another poorly, and decided to end the union.

While that decision was reached and the marriage ended, the individuals involved chose to stay personally and emotionally together. They found that this improved their ability to be parents, a notion that could cause confusion for the children involved.

Children involved

When parents divorce, children have a lot to process. It can be a confusing and emotionally stressful time for children, who have to process their best frame of reference for the institution of marriage no longer existing as it previously did. To add the nuance of a physical and emotional relationship after a divorce can create additional confusion and leave children with more questions than answers.

With all of the questions that children may have, in regards to this situation, it may require some adjustment time for them to accept the answers. Many times, children will have a frame of reference when it comes to divorce. Another kid at school, a cousin, or a neighbor may have gone through a parental divorce, and thus, the child was explained the concept of custody or visitation in some form.

They also might understand the idea that mom or dad lives elsewhere during and after a divorce. They might hear about adults arguing or their friend being moved from one place to another without much notice, but the chances that they have heard about a divorced couple staying in a personal relationship is very unlikely.

Living together

However, what is not rare are couples who end up living together during and after their divorce. Because of the housing market and the economy, it has become an option that divorced couples consider after their relationship has ended. According to The Huffington Post, more and more ex-spouses are making the jump from marriage partners to housemates, as the American economy continues to recover.

While this trend may be economically beneficial, it does not always account for the emotional factor of living with the person that you had pledged to spend the rest of your life with in the institution of marriage, unless you find yourself still in a relationship with this person.

In conducting this study, the team of researchers highlighted a smaller, but growing trend that is developing as a viable option for many couples. While the clean break of a relationship may be beneficial, it does not necessarily have to be for everyone. Some might prefer continuing the relationship, but ending the union. Just as it does with any marriage or divorce, the outcome is entirely dependent on the individuals in the relationship and the interpersonal dynamics at play.

End of Content Icon

Leave a Reply