Relations of parenting quality, interparental conflict, and overnights with mental health problems of children in divorcing families with high legal conflict

J Fam Psychol. 2013 Dec;27(6):915-24. doi: 10.1037/a0034449. Epub 2013 Oct 7.


The current study examined the associations between child mental health problems and the quality of maternal and paternal parenting, and how these associations were moderated by three contextual factors: quality of parenting by the other parent, interparental conflict, and the number of overnights parents had with the child. Data for the current study came from a sample of divorcing families who are in high legal conflict over developing or maintaining a parenting plan following divorce. Analyses revealed that the associations between child mental health problems and positive maternal and paternal parenting were moderated by the quality of parenting provided by the other parent and by the number of overnights children spent with parents, but not by the level of interparental conflict. When parenting by the other parent and number of overnights were considered together in the same model, only number of overnights moderated the relations between parenting and child-behavior problems. The results support the proposition that the well-being of children in high-conflict divorcing families is better when they spend adequate time with at least one parent who provides high-quality parenting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Divorce / psychology*
  • Family Conflict / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Time Factors