Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on young adults experiencing dual family life after high-conflict divorce
Keywords:high-conflict divorce, divorce transition impasse, family policy, family policydual family life, COVID-19
Objective: This paper describes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the family lives of young adults whose parents had been through a high-conflict divorce and the extent to which these 18-to-30-year-olds believed the COVID-19 measures accommodated for their family situation.
Background: Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on family lives has been described in recent literature but no attention has been paid to young adults experiencing parental conflict due to a divorce transition impasse.
Method: Data from 24 in-depth interviews were collected in the Belgian province of Limburg using a semi-structured interview guide with open questions and analysed via Nvivo.
Results: Frequency of contact with parents decreased, contact with parents living abroad became nearly impossible. Different interpretations of and approaches to the rules led to frustration and quarrelling in families. The quality of the relationship with parents changed, often in a negative way. Respondents indicated that to their opinion due consideration had not been given to the situation of young adults with divorced parents.
Conclusion: In order to adequately develop COVID-19 rules that are tailored to a wide range of families, with attention to the most vulnerable ones, we recommend that policy makers define a family by using a “feeling family paradigm” rather than defining a family in terms of a household and that they include a multi-actor and multi-disciplinary perspective in the decision-making processes.