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1995), social conduct and behaviour (Morrison and Coiro 1999), peer relations (Demo and Acock 1988), criminal offending (Hanson 1999), cigarette smoking (Ermisch and Francesconi 2001), substance use (Fergusson, Horwood and Lynskey 1994), early departure from home (Mitchell et al. In most cases the size of the reported effects is small; a minority of children are negatively affected, generally only in the presence of other exacerbating factors; and in many cases the existence of a causal connection is contested and other competing explanations for these associations have been put forward.In other words, it is important to be cautious in interpreting the meaning of these patterns of association.It needs to be said that this paper is not based on a systematic review of the literature in this field.Although I have tried to read widely and without bias, the portion of the literature I have been able to read is necessarily selective – and the portion I can reference in this paper is much more constrained – while the very act of selection has, no doubt, been shaped by my own views and interests.The paper should thus be regarded as no more than a personal reading of the literature.Parental separation has been reported in the literature as being associated with a wide range of adverse effects on children’s wellbeing, both as a short-term consequence of the transition and in the form of more enduring effects that persist into adulthood.It takes as a starting point the existence of pervasive associations between family change and child outcomes and addresses a range of issues that are examined in the research literature.Do family changes primarily have short-term impacts on children, or do they also have more enduring impacts? What impact do frequent changes of family structure have on child outcomes?

The majority of children whose parents have divorced function within normal or average limits in the years after divorce (Kelly 1993).There is a wide diversity of outcomes among both groups of children from divorced and intact families, and the adjustment of children following divorce depends on a wide range of other factors.Demo and Acock (1996) note that “the differences in adolescent well-being within family types are greater than the differences across family types, suggesting that family processes are more important than family composition”. (2001) showed that differences in adjustment between children within the same family are as great as, and even slightly greater than, differences between children in different families.How much is attributable to the conflict between parents which often accompanies a parental separation?And how much of the association between family change and child outcomes is due to non-causal mechanisms, such as selection effects?

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