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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Divorced Parents' Qualitative and Quantitative Reports of Children's Living Arrangements


We use data from a sample of divorced parents in Wisconsin (N = 1,392) to examine how parents describe their children's living arrangements. Parents are likely to say that the children live with them as opposed to the other parent, controlling for the number of nights children spend with the mother. When the children spend substantial time in both parents’ homes, both parents are less likely to use the phrase live with to describe living arrangements. Together these findings suggest that family researchers no longer can rely on simple questions to capture complex living arrangements. We need clearer and more careful question wording and, in some instances, follow-up questions to accurately describe where children live.

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