Stanford Child Custody Study: Family, 1984-1990
Investigators: Eleanor E. Maccoby, Robert H. Mnookin, & Charlene E. Depner

The Stanford Child Custody Project embodies two studies. The first, Study I, focuses on the evolution of child custody arrangements in divorcing families and is comprised of two data sets ("Family" focused and "Child" focused). Study II is a follow-up of adolescents from the Study I sample. Study II data are still being analyzed by the original investigators as of this writing and are not yet publicly available. The present report concerns the family focused data from Study I. The Stanford Child Custody Study, 1984-1990 (Study I) is a three-wave, longitudinal study of post-divorce child custody arrangements. The study is based on a sample of 1,124 families who filed for divorce in two California counties between September, 1984 and April, 1985. The first interview, conducted shortly after the divorce filing, provided information on family background; number, age, and sex of children; financial resources; and education, occupation, and work schedule of the two parents. It also inquired extensively into the negotiation and dispute- resolution process the couple engaged in as they tried to arrive at an agreement on financial and custodial matters. Particular attention was given to the involvement of attorneys, mediators, and other professionals. In addition, the questions explored the degree of conflict between the former spouses, any logistical problems associated with maintaining custodial and visitation arrangements, the children's reaction to the divorce, and the presence or absence of coordination between the parents with respect to the child's upbringing. In Wave II (conducted one year after the filing) and Wave III (conducted three years after the filing), many Wave I items were replicated, several items were dropped, and new items were added, including several items taken from court records and additional items on the payment of child support and legal events in the divorce process. Because Wave III interviews were conducted three years after the initial filing, most divorce cases were either completed or in their final phases. At this point, both retrospective and prospective information was valuable, as parents moved into new family/partner relationships and settled into new household routines.

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