Filial obligations in post-divorce stepfamilies

Marilyn Coleman, Lawrence H. Ganong, Jason D. Hans, Elizabeth A. Sharp, Tanja C. Rothrauff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to assess adult children's obligations to assist older divorced parents and stepparents. Attitudes of 1,009 randomly selected participants were elicited using a vignette that portrayed a situation adult (step)children experience in post-divorce families. Findings suggest that, (a) adult children are obligated to help their divorced parents, (b) kinship is not a sufficient reason for most people to attribute obligations to adult children, although familial obligation is the most frequently offered rationale for helping divorced parents, (c) adult stepchildren are perceived to be responsible to help their stepparents, (d) there is consensus regarding the type of help that should and should not be given by (step)children to (step)parents, (e) adult (step) children are not perceived to be obligated to provide physical caregiving for (step)parents, (f) relationship quality is an important criterion for attributing responsibilities to stepchildren, and (g) older adults differ from younger adults in their beliefs about intergenerational obligations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Divorce and Remarriage
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The project and paper were partially funded by the University of Missouri Research Board, the University of Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station, and the National Institute of Aging (Grant 5 R01 AG17967-02).


  • Adult children of divorce
  • Divorced parents
  • Kinship and divorce
  • Stepfamilies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Law


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