The Children’s Divorce Paper: An Analysis of a Case Study Using Empirical

The Children’s Divorce Paper:

An Analysis of a Case Study Using Empirical Research

Student Learning Objectives:

Through writing the “Children’s Divorce” research paper, you will be able to

Describe the divorce process from the perspective of the children (or child) as compared to the parents (or a parent)

Apply course material to enhancing the understanding of specific case study examples (e.g. textbook, online readings, lecture)

Conduct a literature search and write a literature review regarding the divorce experience

Apply material from the original research found (and cite it) as well as summary information presented in the textbook and online readings.

Overall Description of the paper:

Students will write a research paper describing the experience of divorce from different perspectives. You should convey the perspectives of a child (or children, and the parents (or a parent).

The paper should be written in the form of a case study that a therapist or researcher who is trying to describe in the context of the existing research on the divorce process. An important aspect of this writing assignment is to describe the perspectives of both the perspectives of the children and the parent(s) in the same family (not presenting a solely one-sided story). You are welcome to present a case study from your own life as long as you change the names of the individuals involved and clearly present the sides of the children and the parent(s).

You must cite (reference) both materials presented in the course readings, and at least two original empirical articles (found through a literature search) that are relevant to the focus of the case study. You should choose one stage of divorce process to focus on: troubled marriage with predictors of divorce present, transitioning towards divorce, separation, dissolution/post-divorce, or remarriage and blending of families. You can either more broadly describe the experience of a family with children and cite associated research, or you can choose to focus more specifically on a specific sub area of interest (e.g. the impact of marital conflict on children, co-parenting, child emotional and school adjustment, etc.)

Details regarding each section are described below. The entire paper should be written using APA style, and should be clearly written. Each paper should include:

A title page,

An introductory paragraph,

A presentation of the case study itself (in a way that describes the perspectives of both spouses),

An analysis of the case study referencing relevant research,

A conclusion paragraph, and

A references page.

Title page

The title page should be formatted using APA style and include a title, your name, and your affiliation (Department of Child and Family Development, San Diego State University)

Introductory paragraph

This paragraph should be a basic introduction to the case examined (the family story) and any specific area of sub focus. For example:

This case study will examine the experience of Jenny (15) and Luke (5) whose parents recently divorced and are grappling with issues involving co-parenting. The perspective of their mother, Maria, will also be presented. She is the residential parent bringing them in for counseling. Although the children’s and mother’s overall experience will be briefly described to give context to this situation, the analysis of their case will focus on the children’s adjustment to having one residential parent and one non-residential parent who are having difficulty coordinating with each other. Literature on children’s emotional, social, and academic adjustment to ongoing parental conflict regarding co-parenting post-divorce will be reviewed to gain further insights into this case as well as to promote understanding of the divorce experience in general.”

Presentation of the Case Study (approximately 1 page)

This section entails the description of the case study that will be analyzed in relation to relevant research in the following section. You can either describe the case from the viewpoint of the therapist or researcher writing up the case study, or you can describe it from the viewpoint of the family members in the case (Jenny, Luke, and their mother Martina). I think that the easiest way to do this is to introduce the family and then include a long quote from each individual. For example:

Maria and her children have different perspectives the divorce experience, but Maria is concerned about making sure her children adjust as well as possible and is trying to understand her children’s perspectives. Jenny (15) and Luke (5) are both experiencing feelings of sadness and anger regarding their parents recent divorce and are experiencing difficulties in school that reflect difficulty with this adjustment. They have both expressed concerns regarding their parents’ ongoing conflict and abandonment associated with their limited time with their father. The challenging adjustment of these children is likely associated with the conflict their parents are currently having regarding co-parenting.

Below are the notes from interviews I conducted with the teenage daughter Jenny.

“I am so angry about my parents’ divorce. I can’t believe that they didn’t even tell me there was a problem until my dad moved out of the house, and now I hardly get to see him anymore. I have gotten to see him a couple of times, but I never know when I will see him again, and it has been 3 weeks since I saw him last. I ask my mom when we will get to see dad again, and she just cries. I don’t know what to do and I don’t understand it!“

Below are the notes from interviews I conducted with the younger son, Luke.

“I want to see my daddy. No one tells me what is going on. He is never home anymore. Jenny says that daddy is not coming home anymore. Mommy is sad all the time, and daddy has just left me. I don’t feel like I have a daddy anymore. I am sorry if I did something that made him leave.“

Maria is mostly concerned with her own struggles with her ex-husband, but she is also concerned enough about her children’s wellbeing to bring them in for counseling. Below are the notes from interviews I conducted with the mother Maria.

“I am just so depressed all the time! And my ex-husband is not helping. He keeps arguing he should have more visitation time with the kids, but when it is time for him to see them, he is almost always late, and then the kids get more upset. I think it would be best if we could just make a clean cut and just not see him anymore. I know the kids are having a hard time in school now, and I am worried about that too. . . .“

Analysis of the case study referencing relevant research (approximately 2 page)

This section is an analysis of the case study based on relevant research. This requires a synthesis of the research, and application of research-based information to the specific case. Based on research, the case study’s experience can be described as typical, unusual, or a combination of the two. You may also identify strengths, challenges, risks, and protective factors. This section of the research paper should include citations of at least 5 different sources, including:

At least two original research articles (as 2 of the 5 sources). This will require that you conduct a literature search (see the literature search presentation if you are not sure how to do this).

At least one citation of the book or other course reading (required or optional) that is included in the course modules. Note that the references for each of these readings are presented in the module where the reading is presented.

At least 2 other citations, which could be additional research articles or additional course readings. Note that if you cited one chapter from the Handbook of Divorce and Remarriage, you can also cite another chapter and count It as a second citation/reference.

Below is an example about how you may introduce this section:

The experience of Jenny and Luke is not unusual. It is common for children to experience adjustment difficulties around the period of a divorce (Author name, Author name, year). Young children in particular often have difficulty understanding the divorce and are prone to blaming themselves for the divorce (Author, Author, year). Research findings regarding the importance of father involvement post-divorce are mixed. However, research indicates that children typically do best when parents co-parent positively (Author, Author, year). The experience of the mother, Maria, is also not unusual. Parents often experience depression after a divorce (Author, author, year), which can affect their parenting. . .

Conclusion section/ paragraph:

The conclusion paragraph should summarize any main conclusions and major themes. This paragraph should also include implications the case study has for helping the reader better understand the experience of divorce, and any recommendations you would make for the family based on research or theory (in which case the theory should also be cited). Below is an example regarding information you may include in this section:

“In summary, Jenny, Luke, and their mother Maria are all having adjustment difficulties following the parents’ divorce. The children are particularly concerned about seeing their father, whereas their mother is very upset with their father and would prefer to have less contact with him rather than more. The children’s emotional, social and academic adjustment challenges are also likely associated with the continued conflict between their parents given the research indicating that this continued conflict is problematic for children (author, author, year). This case illustrates the experience of many children following their parent’s divorce. The words of Luke are particularly revealing regarding his experience given the limited interview research available with young children. Based on research indicating that parallel co-parenting is associated with reduced conflict (author, author, year), I recommend the parents seek to solidify arrangements regarding the father’s visitation with his children, and try to limit their communication with each other to texts and emails to reduce the interpersonal conflict their children are exposed to.


References (and citations) should be in APA style.

Page limit, formatting, and other writing considerations:

The paper should be:

5 and ½ to 6 pages long (including title page and references page) – no longer than 7 pages.

Double spaced, 11 or 12-point font, and written in APA style.

Writing should be clear, concise, and the writing should be grammatically correct

Minimize quotations (maximum of two quotations) – not including the case descriptions (which can be in quotes)

Submission Format

The paper must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on the due date. The paper must be submitted in a format that is compatible with the turnitin system (e.g. Word, Rich Text Format). If you use “Pages” you will need to save your file as a Word document before uploading it.

Grading Rubric



Introductory paragraph (clear and focused)

0 – 10

Case study description (clear and thoughtful) with clear perspectives presented for both the children and the parent(s)

0 – 15

Analysis of case study using relevant research

Thorough and thoughtful application of research (10 points)

5 (or more) citations and references including both original research and course readings (25 points)

Citations and references for at least two original empirical articles found through conducting a literature review (10 points)

0 – 45

Conclusion paragraph (thoughtful and integrative)

0 – 10

Writing (clarity, grammar, and spelling)

0 – 10

APA style (title page, citations, references, etc.)

0 – 10


100 possible

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