The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children
Annual statistical report 2010

3 How family composition changes across waves

Brigit Maguire, Australian Institute of Family Studies

Children grow up in many different kinds of families, and children's family environments often change as they move through childhood. These family environments and the changes children experience can greatly influence their development and outcomes (de Vaus & Gray, 2003; Pryor & Rodgers, 2001). Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) provides an opportunity to examine changing family composition and characteristics over time.

This chapter presents analyses using the first three waves of the study to explore changes in family characteristics, focusing on children's parents and siblings.1 The first section looks at the types of families in which children live (e.g., whether children live with one or both of their biological parents), the characteristics of lone parents, and parents' relationship status. The second section focuses on children's siblings, parents with other children living elsewhere, and children experiencing changes in the residents of their households.

Throughout this chapter, the terms "family" and "household" both refer to the child's main household; that is, the household in which the child lives with their primary parent (Parent 1). The characteristics of children's secondary households (i.e., with a parent living elsewhere after parental separation) will be examined in future reports. The relationships between parents and children reported throughout this chapter are derived using the study respondents' description of the relationships between the study child, primary parent, secondary parent, and other household members. The different descriptions of children's parents used throughout this chapter are explained in Box 3.1.

Box 3.1 "Parent" terminology used

Parent(s) refers to the child's primary and/or secondary parents identified by the study respondent. This includes biological and non-biological parents.

Primary parent (Parent 1) is defined as the child's primary caregiver, or the parent who knows the child best. In the majority of cases, this is the child's biological mother, but can also be the father or another guardian.

Secondary parent (Parent 2) is the child's second parent, usually the partner of the primary parent. In most cases, this is the biological father but can also be the mother, another partner of the primary parent, or another guardian.

Biological parent is the child's biological or adoptive mother or father.* It does not include other biological relationships (e.g., a grandparent).

Non-biological parent is someone who has taken on a parenting role (identified as Parent 1 or Parent 2 by the family) but is not the child's natural mother or father. This includes grandparents, aunts/uncles, foster parents and step-parents.

Step-parent is a non-biological parent who is the partner of the child's biological parent. The study respondent does not necessarily identify them as a "step-parent".

Other type of parent or other family type includes non-biological parents and families in which one parent is the biological parent and the second parent is a non-biological parent who isn't the partner of the biological parent (e.g., a mother and a grandmother).

Note: * Throughout this chapter, all references to biological parents include adoptive parents. Approximately five children in the B cohort were adopted, and approximately 10 children in the K cohort were adopted.

3.1 Children's parents

Family type: With how many and which parents do children live?

The majority of Australian children live in one of three major family types: with two biological parents, with one biological parent only, or with a biological parent and a step-parent.2 This section examines the percentages of children living in these three types of families,3 and how children's family structures change across the first three waves.

Table 3.1 shows the percentages of children in the three major family types at each wave. The majority of children in both cohorts lived with both biological parents at all three waves. However, the percentage of children living with both biological parents decreased as children grew older. In the B cohort, 89% of children lived with both biological parents when they were 0-1 years old at Wave 1, but this dropped to 82% by the time the children were 4-5 years old at Wave 3. Of the K cohort children, 82% lived with both biological parents when they were 4-5 years old at Wave 1, which decreased to 75% when they were 8-9 years old at Wave 3.

Table 3.1 Distribution of children living in three major family types, B and K cohorts, Waves 1-3
  B cohort K cohort
Wave 1 % Wave 2 % Wave 3 % Wave 1 % Wave 2 % Wave 3 %
Two biological parents 89.0 85.8 82.4 81.9 79.2 75.3
One biological parent only 10.4 13.1 14.0 14.8 16.6 16.7
Biological parent and step-parent 0.3 0.8 3.0 2.8 3.5 7.0
Other family type 0.2 0.3 0.6 0.5 0.6 1.0
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
No. of observations 5,107 4,606 4,386 4,983 4,464 4,331

Note: Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.

The percentage of B cohort children who lived with only one biological parent increased slightly between Waves 1 and 3 (from 10% to 14%). There was less change for the K cohort; 15% of children lived with only one biological parent in Wave 1, and 17% did so in Wave 3.

The slight decline in the percentage of children who lived with two biological parents as the children grew older is matched by an increase in the percentage of children who lived with one biological parent and a step-parent. Fewer than 1% of children lived with one biological parent and a step-parent in the B cohort at Wave 1 (when the children were aged 0-1 years), 3% did so when they were aged 4-5 years (both cohorts), and 7% lived in this type of family when they were aged 8-9 years (K cohort at Wave 3).

While the percentages of children in each of the family type categories remained fairly stable across the three waves, with only slight changes in the percentages in each category, these cohort trends conceal the fact that many individual children experienced a change in family type during this time (e.g., when their parents separated and/or re-partnered). The remainder of this section looks at how individual children's family types changed between Waves 1 and 3 of the study.

Table 3.2 (B cohort) and Table 3.3 (K cohort) explore how individual children's family types changed between Waves 1 and 3 of the study. The left-hand side of the tables describes the family types in Wave 1 and the remaining columns describe the family types in Wave 3. Because each row totals 100%, it is possible to see how many children remained in the same family type between Waves 1 and 3, and how many children's family types had changed by Wave 3.

Table 3.2 Change in family type, B cohort, Waves 1 and 3
    Wave 3 (4-5 years)
Two
biological
parents
%
One
biological
parent only
%
Biological
parent and
step-parent
%
Other
family
type
%
Total
%
No. of
observations
Wave 1
(0-1 yrs)
Two biological parents 90.4 7.8 1.6 0.2 100.0 4,034
One biological parent only 21.5 64.6 11.0 2.9 100.0 328

Notes: This table only includes the children who lived with one or two biological parents in Wave 1. Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.

Table 3.2 shows the changes between Waves 1 and 3 for the B cohort. The children who lived with two biological parents in Wave 1 had the most stable family type; 90% still lived with both biological parents when they were 4-5 years old, 8% lived with only one biological parent, and 2% lived with a biological parent and a step-parent.

The bottom row of the table shows the transitory nature of lone parenthood for many families; approximately a third of the Wave 1 lone-parent families had become two-parent families by Wave 3. Of the children who lived with one biological parent in Wave 1, only 65% still did at Wave 3. Eleven per cent of the lone parents in Wave 1 had a new partner (who was not related to the study child) in Wave 3. Of the children who lived with only one biological parent when they were 0-1 years old, 22% were living in a household with both of their biological parents by the time they were 4-5 years old. This suggests that a substantial proportion of couples may reconcile after separation or formally begin to live together in the early years of their child's life.

Table 3.3 shows the change in family type between Waves 1 and 3 for the K cohort. Children living with both biological parents in Wave 1 experienced a similar stability to the B cohort children, with 91% remaining in this type of family between Waves 1 and 3. Twenty-seven per cent of the K cohort parents who were lone parents in Wave 1 had re-partnered by Wave 3, compared to 11% for the B cohort. Seven per cent of K cohort children living with only one biological parent at Wave 1 were living with both biological parents in Wave 3 (compared to 22% of B cohort children). This reflects that a smaller proportion of couples are likely to reconcile a previous relationship or to begin living together for the first time as their children get older. A greater percentage of K cohort children lived with a biological parent and a step-parent in Wave 1 compared to the B cohort, so it is possible to examine the changes in this family type between Waves 1 and 3. Seventy-one per cent remained in this family type, and 28% transitioned to living with only one biological parent.

Table 3.3 Change in family type, K cohort, Waves 1 and 3
    Wave 3 (8-9 years)
Two
biological
parents
%
One
biological
parent only
%
Biological
parent and
step-parent
%
Other
%
Total
%
No. of
observations
Wave 1
(4-5 yrs)
Two biological parents 91.0 7.4 1.3 0.2 100.0 3,683
One biological parent only 6.8 63.6 26.5 3.0 100.0 521
Biological parent and step-parent 0.0 28.0 71.3 0.7 100.0 102

Notes: This table does not include the small percentage of children who lived with non-biological parents only or with a biological parent and a non-biological parent (who were not partners) in Wave 1. Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.

Lone parents: What are their characteristics?

Many Australian children grow up in households with only one parent. In 2004-06, 22% of all families with children under 15 years were lone-parent families (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS], 2007). This has critical implications for children, as lone-parent families in Australia experience multiple disadvantages, including in employment, income and housing (ABS, 2007; Hayes, Gray, & Edwards, 2008). Table 3.1 shows that between 10% and 17% of the children in both cohorts of LSAC lived with only one biological parent across the first three waves of the study. For children who had shared parenting arrangements, the family type was defined according to the child's primary household, as identified by the study family. This section looks at the characteristics of the lone parents in LSAC; in particular, their gender and age.

Gender

The vast majority of lone parents were female at the first three waves of the study, for both cohorts. Among the B cohort, 99% of lone parents at Wave 1 and 98% at Waves 2 and 3 were female. In the K cohort, 96% of lone parents in Wave 1, 96% in Wave 2, and 93% in Wave 3 were female.

Age

Figure 3.1 presents a graph of lone motherhood by the mother's age when her study child was born, for the two cohorts at each of the first three waves of the study. Each bar shows the percentage of mothers in five age groups at the time of the study child's birth who were lone mothers. These data are restricted to biological mothers.

The graph for each cohort/wave shows an approximately U-shaped distribution, suggesting that lone motherhood was most likely among the youngest and oldest mothers. Mothers who were younger than 25 years old when their study child was born were most likely to be lone parents; between 27% and 31% in this age group were lone mothers for the two cohorts across the three waves of the study. Mothers aged between 30 and 39 were the least likely to be lone parents, although the percentage who were lone parents tended to increase as the children got older (from around 5% of B cohort children in Wave 1, to around 14% of K cohort children in Wave 3). The percentage of women aged 40 years or older at the birth of their study child who were lone parents ranged from 12% to 21%.

Figure 3.1 Distribution of age of lone mothers at birth of study child, as a proportion of all mothers in age group, B and K cohorts, Waves 1-3

Figure 3.1  Distribution of age of lone mothers at birth of study child, as a proportion of all mothers in age group, B and K cohorts, Waves 1-3 - as described in text

Parents' relationship status: Are children's parents married or not?

Since the middle of the 20th century, there has been an increase in Australia in both the numbers of children born outside marriage and in the divorce rate (ABS, 2009; Hayes, Weston, Qu, & Gray, 2010; Weston & Qu, 2006). This means that increasing numbers of children live in families that are different to the traditional family form of two married parents. This section examines how the relationship status of children's parents changed over the first three waves of the study. This section is not restricted to biological parents.

Table 3.4 shows the percentages of children whose primary parents were in each type of relationship with the child's secondary parent for the two cohorts at Waves 1-3. The table shows that almost three-quarters of primary parents in both cohorts were married.4 The percentage who were in de facto partnerships5 decreased as children grew older - from 19% when the B cohort were 0-1 years old down to 13% when they were 4-5 years old, and from 11% when the K cohort were 4-5 years old to 10% when they were 8-9 years old.

Table 3.4 Parents' relationship status, B and K cohorts, Waves 1-3
  B cohort K cohort
Wave 1 % Wave 2 % Wave 3 % Wave 1 % Wave 2 % Wave 3 %
Married a 70.6 72.3 72.2 73.6 73.2 71.8
De facto b 18.8 14.4 12.7 11.4 9.5 10.4
Lone parent 10.5 13.2 14.0 15.0 16.6 16.5
Other family type c 0.1 0.1 1.2 0.1 0.7 1.3
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
No. of observations 5,107 4,602 4,386 4,983 4,464 4,331

Notes: a Parents were not necessarily married to the same partner across the three waves. b Parents were not necessarily in a de facto relationship with the same partner across the three waves. c These families include those in which one parent is the biological parent and the second parent is a non-biological parent who isn't the partner of the biological parent (e.g., a mother and a grandmother). Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.

While the percentages of parents in each type of relationship remained relatively stable across the three waves, some individual parents experienced a change in relationship status during this time. Table 3.5 (B cohort) and Table 3.6 (K cohort) show how parents' relationships have changed across the first three waves of the study. The left-hand side of each table describes the parents' relationship status in Wave 1, while the remaining columns show the parents' relationship status in Wave 3.6 Because each row totals 100%, it is possible to see how many parents remained in the same relationship between Waves 1 and 3, and how many changed their relationship status.

Table 3.5 shows the changes between Waves 1 and 3 for the B cohort. The table shows that of all the parents who had been married in Wave 1, 93% were still married to the same partner at Wave 3, 1% had a new partner (legal spouse or de facto), and 6% had become lone parents when the children were 4-5 years old. Twenty-six per cent of the Wave 1 de facto partnerships resulted in marriage by Wave 3, but 17% of children whose parents had been in a de facto partnership in Wave 1 were living with only one parent by Wave 3 (in contrast to 6% for children whose parents had been married in Wave 1). Four per cent of parents in a de facto relationship in Wave 1 had new partners in Wave 3. Twenty-seven per cent of lone parents in Wave 1 had a partner (legal spouse or de facto partner) by the time the children were 4-5 years old.

Table 3.5 Change in parents' relationship status, B cohort, Waves 1 and 3
  Wave 3 (4-5 years)
Married
to same
partner
%
De facto
with same
partner
%
Married
to new
partner a
%
New
de facto
partner a
%
Lone
parent
%
Other
family
type
%
Total
%
No. of
observations
Wave 1
(0-1 yrs)
Married 93.1 0.2 b 0.4 0.6 5.6 0.1 100.0 3,306
De facto 25.9 52.0 0.7 3.6 17.2 0.7 100.0 745
Lone parent - - 11.5 15.5 64.6 8.4 100.0 330

Notes: a "New" is only in relation to Wave 1. A "new" partner may be the child's biological parent (see discussion of Table 3.2), or a previous partner with whom the parent has reconciled after separating prior to Wave 1. b There were changes to the collection of information about marital status between Wave 1 and later waves, which may have contributed to a small number of respondents reporting that they were married at Wave 1 and then that they were in a de facto relationship at later waves. The small percentage of children who lived in another type of family in Wave 1 are not included in this table. Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.

Table 3.6 shows the changes between Waves 1 and 3 for the K cohort. The table shows a similar pattern to that for the B cohort for parents who were married in Wave 1. Ninety-two per cent were still married in Wave 3, 1% were in a new relationship and 7% had become lone parents.

Of those who were in a de facto relationship in Wave 1, 16% had married, 4% had a new partner and 19% had become lone parents by Wave 3.

Thirty-two per cent of children with only one parent in Wave 1 had a new parent figure (either married to or in a de facto relationship with their original parent) in Wave 3.

Table 3.6 Change in parents' relationship status, K cohort, Waves 1 and 3
    Wave 3 (8-9 years)
Married
to same
partner
%
De facto
with same
partner
%
Married
to new
partner a
%
New
de facto
partner a
%
Lone
parent
%
Other
family
type
%
Total
%
No. of
observations
Wave 1
(4-5 yrs)
Married 91.7 0.4 b 0.3 0.9 6.6 0.1 100.0 3,388
De facto 16.1 58.9 0.0 4.3 19.2 1.6 100.0 415
Lone parent - - 13.3 19.1 62.4 5.2 100.0 524

Notes: a "New" is only in relation to Wave 1. A "new" partner may be the child's biological parent (see discussion of Table 3.3), or a previous partner with whom the parent has reconciled after separating prior to Wave 1. b There were changes to the collection of information about marital status between Wave 1 and later waves, which may have contributed to a small number of respondents reporting that they were married at Wave 1 and then that they were in a de facto relationship at later waves. The small percentage of children who lived in another type of family at Wave 1 are not included in this table. Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.

3.2 Children's families

This section looks at the characteristics of children's households more broadly: children's siblings, parents who had other children living elsewhere, and children who experienced change in the residents of their households.

Siblings

Children's relationships with their siblings influence many aspects of their lives and development. Children may live with biological siblings, adopted siblings, half-siblings, step-siblings or foster siblings. The arrival of a new sibling is a major event in a child's life, whether a new sibling is born or adopted into the family or a blended family is created. Chapter 2 of this report shows the change in numbers of siblings across the first three waves of the study for both cohorts, and this section provides further details about children's siblings. The siblings discussed in this section are those in the child's primary household (Parent 1's household), and do not include siblings in the secondary household (e.g., with a parent living elsewhere).

Approximately 58% of children in both cohorts had at least one older sibling. Figure 3.2 shows the percentage of children who had a new sibling born between Waves 1 and 2, and between Waves 2 and 3. Children were most likely to have a new sibling born when they were younger; that is, siblings tend to be born close together. Thirty-one per cent of B cohort children had a new sibling born between Waves 1 and 2 (i.e., when they were 1-2 years old), and 24% between Waves 2 and 3 (when they were 3-4 years old). Fewer of the older K cohort children had a new sibling born during the first three waves of the study. Thirteen per cent had a new sibling born between Waves 1 and 2 (when they were 5-6 years) and 9% did so when they were 7-8 years old.

Figure 3.2 Children with a new sibling born since the previous wave, B and K cohorts, Waves 2 and 3

Figure
    3.2 Children with a new sibling born
    since the previous wave, B and K cohorts, Waves 2 and 3 - as described in text

Table 3.7 shows the percentage of children who lived (in their primary household) with four types of siblings: biological siblings,7 half-siblings, step-siblings, and foster siblings. The majority of children in both cohorts lived with at least one biological sibling at each of the first three waves of the study. The percentage of B cohort children who did so increased between Waves 1 and 3, from 55% to 83%. In contrast, the percentages of the older K cohort children who lived with at least one biological sibling remained consistent across the three waves, at approximately 85%. This difference between the two cohorts again shows that siblings are likely to be born close together. While few children lived with step-siblings or foster siblings (fewer than 1% for both cohorts at all waves), approximately 10% of children lived with a half-sibling.

Table 3.7 Distribution of children living with different types of siblings, B and K cohorts, Waves 1-3
B cohort K cohort
Wave 1
%
Wave 2
%
Wave 3
%
Wave 1
%
Wave 2
%
Wave 3
%
Biological sibling 54.7 74.5 83.0 83.9 85.3 86.1
Half-sibling 9.8 9.4 10.2 11.2 10.8 11.5
Step-sibling 0.1 0.1 0.4 0.2 0.5 0.9
Foster sibling 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1

Note: Children are included more than once in this table if they had more than one type of sibling (e.g., both a biological sibling and a half-sibling).

Parents with other children living elsewhere

Some study parents also had children who did not live in the home with them (i.e., children who did not live with the study child). Table 3.8 shows the percentage of children's mothers and fathers who had children living elsewhere. This question was asked slightly differently in Wave 1 compared to the other two waves. In Wave 1, parents were asked if they had any "biological, step-, adopted or other children" who did not live with them. In Waves 2 and 3, parents were asked if they had any "biological or adopted children" who did not live with them. This resulted in higher percentages for Wave 1.

Table 3.8 Distribution of parents with children living elsewhere, B and K cohorts, Waves 1-3
B cohort K cohort
Wave 1 a
%
Wave 2 b
%
Wave 3 b
%
Wave 1 a
%
Wave 2 b
%
Wave 3 b
%
Mother 8.2 2.3 3.7 10.4 5.2 5.6
Father 10.1 8.5 9.1 11.8 8.4 10.5

Notes: a Wave 1 in both cohorts includes biological, step-, adopted or other children. b Waves 2 and 3 in both cohorts include only biological or adopted children.

Fathers were more likely to have children living elsewhere. In Wave 1, 8% of B cohort mothers had biological, step-, adopted or other children living elsewhere, compared to 10% of fathers. Ten per cent of K cohort mothers had biological, step-, adopted or other children living elsewhere in Wave 1, compared to 12% of fathers.

Two per cent of B cohort mothers had biological or adopted children who did not live with them in Wave 2, and this increased to 4% in Wave 3. Nine per cent of B cohort fathers had biological or adopted children who did not live with them in Waves 2 and 3. Five per cent of K cohort mothers had biological or adopted children who did not live with them in Wave 2 and Wave 3. Between 8% and 11% of fathers had biological or adopted children living elsewhere.

3.3 Change in the residents of children's households

Figure 3.3 shows the percentage of children who experienced some sort of change in the residents of their household (e.g., people entering or leaving the household, birth of a new child) in the two years since the previous wave of the study. The figure suggests that households are more likely to change when children are younger (e.g., when new siblings are born). Forty-six per cent of B cohort children experienced a change in their household between 0-1 years and 2-3 years, and 40% experienced a change between 2-3 years and 4-5 years. Twenty-nine per cent of K cohort children experienced a change in their household between 4-5 years and 6-7 years, and this dropped to 26% between 6-7 years old and 8-9 years old.

Figure 3.3 Distribution of children who had a change in the household co-residents since the previous wave, B and K cohorts, Waves 2 and 3

Figure 3.3 Distribution of children who had a change in the household co-residents since the previous wave, B and K cohorts, Waves 2 and 3 - as described in text

3.4 Summary

This chapter has examined how family composition and characteristics change as children grow up. The majority of LSAC children lived with both their biological parents, although the percentage that did so declined slightly as the children grew older. Across the first three waves of the study, families with two biological parents were the most stable family type (approximately 90% of children remained in this type of family between Waves 1 and 3). Lone parenthood appeared transitory for some families, as a number of lone parents re-partnered, particularly when children were older. For some children, their two biological parents started living together after initially living apart; this mainly occurred when children were younger. The majority of lone parents were female - lone parenthood was most likely among mothers who were younger than 25 at the birth of their study child and least likely among mothers who were in their 30s when their child was born. The majority of children's parents were married, and the percentage of parents who were de facto partners decreased as children grew older, as some de facto partners got married and others separated.

The majority of children had one sibling, and siblings tended to be born close together. Siblings were mostly biological or adopted siblings, but around 10% of children lived with a half-sibling. Fathers were more likely than mothers to have children living elsewhere. Change in the residents of children's households was common (e.g., through people entering or leaving the household, birth of a new child), ranging from a high of 46% to a low of 26%. Children were most likely to experience a change in their household when they were younger.

3.5 Further reading

  • Fletcher, R., Fairbairn, H., & Pascoe, S. (2004). Fatherhood research in Australia: Research report. Calligan, NSW: Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle.
  • Losoncz, I. (2008). Shared parental responsibility: Stability of arrangements among separated Australian families of young children across two years. Family Matters, 79, 26-33.
  • Richardson, N., Higgins, D., Bromfield, L., Tooley, G., & Stokes, M. (2005).The relationship between childhood injuries and family type. Family Matters, 72, 44-49.

3.6 References

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2007). Australian social trends 2007: One-parent families (Cat. No. 4102.0). Canberra: ABS. Retrieved from <www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/F4B15709EC89CB1ECA25732C002079B2?opendocument>.
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2009). Australian social trends 2009: Couples in Australia (Cat. no. 4102.0). Canberra: ABS. Retrieved from <www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Main+Features20March%202009>.
  • de Vaus, D., & Gray, M. (2003). Family transitions among Australia's children. Family Matters, 65, 10-17.
  • Hayes, A., Gray, M. C., & Edwards, B. (2008). Social inclusion: Origins, concepts and key themes. Canberra: Social Inclusion Unit, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
  • Hayes, A., Weston, R., Qu, L., & Gray, M. (2010). Families then and now: 1980-2010. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  • Pryor, J., & Rodgers, B. (2001). Children in changing families: Life after parental separation. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Weston, R., & Qu, L. (2006). Trends in couple formation. Family Relationships Quarterly, 1, 12-15.

Footnote(s)

1 A small percentage of children lived with other people in addition to their parents or siblings, such as grandparents, other relatives, boarders or housemates. These percentages were similar for the B and K cohorts across the first three waves of the study, ranging from 8% to 10%.

2 Same-sex couple parents are not distinguished from other parents throughout this chapter. There were fewer than ten families with two mothers and no families with two fathers at each of the first three waves, so these families cannot be analysed separately. In most of these same-sex couple families, the child was described as having a biological mother and a step-mother or adoptive mother, and the parents' relationship was classified as de facto.

3 While the majority of children lived in one of the three major family types, a small percentage (fewer than 1%) lived with different types of parents at each of the first three waves of the study. These children lived only with non-biological parents (e.g., foster parents, grandparents, other relatives), or with one biological parent and another non-biological parent who was not the partner of their biological parent (e.g., mother and grandmother, mother and a sibling who has taken on a parental role, mother and a boarder or house-mate). These family types are referred to as “other family types” throughout this chapter.

4 Parents were not necessarily married to the same partner across the three waves.

5 Parents were not necessarily in a de facto relationship with the same partner across the three waves.

6 “New” partners are defined in relation to Wave 1. A “new” partner may be the child's biological parent (see discussion of Table 3.2), or a previous partner with whom the parent has reconciled after separating prior to Wave 1.

7 Biological siblings includes adopted siblings.

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