The Effect of Custody Arrangement on Repartnering after Divorce. Evidence from a Policy Reform Promoting Joint Physical Custody

Christine Schnor, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Inge Pasteels, Universiteit Antwerpen

Women who live after separation with their children exhibit lower repartnering rates than women without residential children. This study considered that the children’s residential arrangement may be endogenously related to the repartnering intentions of the mother. Using the Divorce in Flanders study (N=1,222), the authors exploited exogenous variation in physical custody arrangement induced by a policy reform promoting joint legal custody as an instrumental variable. They found that mother-sole physical custody was significantly related to lower repartnering probabilities. This effect became stronger when allowing custody choice to be endogenous, suggesting that ordinary models underestimate the negative effect of sole physical custody on mothers’ repartnering because they fail to consider endogeneity. Having the children 90 to 100 percent of the time living in the household reduces the probability to re-partner by 75 percent. The authors conclude that sole physical custody acts as an important impediment to step-family formation following divorce.

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Presented in Session 116: Family Instability