In many Western societies, there has been a tremendous increase in family diversity over the course of the past few decades, resulting in a considerable prevalence of non-traditional family forms. The increased instability of marital and non-marital unions entails new challenges for both parents and children. In this special issue, family studies scholars from different disciplines examine from a life course perspective how re-partnering processes work and how family relationships are rearranged in order to adapt to the altered needs and requirements of post-separation family life.
Recent demographic changes such as the rise in divorce rates have contributed to a loss of biographical security. From a life course perspective, partnership and parenthood biographies have become more complex, which has challenged the notion of a “normative biography” of life-long marriage and the formation of a nuclear family with shared biological children. Thus, many individuals face the challenge of rearranging their lives after a separation of divorce, which includes not only the search for a new partnership, but also the redefinition of existing ties to one’s ex-partner (and often co-parent) and to one’s biological and social children. Family life often becomes regulated legally (e.g. via custody arrangements), and even the basic definitions of the boundaries of post-separation families may be blurred. The authors illustrate that post-divorce families are complex social units and that the involved individuals actively create their life courses in a social process. Authors from different disciplines including Sociology, Psychology, Demography and Law cover different aspects of post-divorce family life.