Moving On: Union formation in the context of family complexities

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    This dissertation investigates the role of prior relationship experiences and children in how people form new relationships, or ‘unions’, referring to those where partners live together. For many people, union formation is not a once-in-a-lifetime event, but something they experience multiple times and in different stages of their life. As such, many singles in the so-called ‘partner market’ have lived with and split from a partner before, and some have children. This research shows that prior relationship experiences and children shape the process of union formation in several ways, including by limiting commitment to a new partner; motivating living-apart-together (LAT); lowering the chances of LAT couples moving in together; reducing the distance people move to live with a partner; and lowering the chances of long-distance moves among single and repartnered parents. As a result of experiences with a previous relationship and break-up or divorce, people become more cautious and try to protect themselves by limiting the commitment to, investments in and sacrifices for their new relationship. Having a child or children can complicate the development of a new relationship as there may be competition and sometimes conflict between the existing commitment to children and new commitment to a partner. To better understand modern-day family and relationship practices, it is essential that research moves beyond a focus on households to include partners, children and other family members living elsewhere. Governments face the challenge to accommodate diverse and complex partner and family relationships in legislation and policy.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    • Mulder, Clara H., Supervisor
    • de Valk, Helga, Supervisor
    • Venhorst, Viktor, Co-supervisor
    Award date4-Jul-2022
    Place of Publication[Groningen]
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

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