Date of Completion


Embargo Period



divorce, extended family, co-parenting, therapy

Major Advisor

Dr. Shayne Anderson

Associate Advisor

Dr. Edna Brown

Associate Advisor

Dr. Kari Adamsons

Field of Study

Human Development and Family Studies


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Extended family relationship and support are important protective factors for families undergo stress-inducing life events such as divorce. As families go through several readjustments and reorganizations following divorce, extended family interactions both affect and are affected by these changes. In addition, extended family members can provide support for post-divorce adjustment and relationships. Existing literature provided valuable insights regarding post-divorce extended family relationships but they were mostly conducted over 25 years ago. The field of family therapy emphasizes and encourages the inclusion of extended family members in therapy sessions. Despite the importance of extended family, there is no empirical study exploring its involvement in family therapy sessions. In order to examine current post-divorce extended family interactions and support, extended family’s impact on post-divorce adjustments and co-parenting, as well as the role of extended family in family therapy, data was collected from 369 divorced individuals (66% women and 34% men) with children between the ages of 0 to 18. Hence, the current dissertation presents three manuscripts, each targeting a different aspect of literature on the extended family. The first manuscript explored contemporary post-divorce extended family relationships. It provided a snapshot of post-divorce interactions with extended family such as contact, closeness, and perceived influence. It also examined the support extended family members from one’s own family and former spouse’s family provide. The second manuscript explored the role of support that extended family provides to the families going through divorce on their post-divorce adjustment, mainly post-divorce co-parenting relationship. The study utilized the Double ABCX Family Stress model (McCubbin & Patterson, 1983) to examine the role of extended family members as a social support for post-divorce co-parenting relationship between former spouses. Lastly, the third manuscript explored how extended family members are involved in conjoint sessions of former spouses at different stages of divorce.