Are you a female, middle-aged empty-nester, who is about to embark on a divorce? If so, I’d really like to talk to you.
What is the study called? How Do Women With An Empty Nest Make Sense Of Midlife Marital Breakdown, And Does A Legal Or Mediated Path To Divorce Impact Experience, Or Outcome.
What are the aims of the study? The primary aim of the study is to understand the experience of midlife divorce for women who’s children are adults and to explore whether using mediation or solicitors makes a difference.
Who Can Participate? White British women aged 50 to 65 with grown up children who have embarked on divorce and have a Decree Nisi. You should have co-parented at least one child with your husband and any children should be aged eighteen or over and no longer living at home. A total of sixteen women who are in the early stages of filing for divorce (petitioners) will be recruited to answer the main study question. A further eight women who have been filed against (respondents) will be recruited for a separate smaller study.
What about the route to divorce? From the sample of 16 petitioners I am hoping to recruit eight women who intend to use mediation and eight women who intend to pursue a legal route to divorce. I am aware that some women may start out using mediation and switch to a legal route along the way, but this switch, if it occurs, will inform rather than compromise the study.
What does participation involve? You will be interviewed twice; once when you join the study and again, a year later. Each interview will take about an hour and can be arranged at your convenience. You will be asked a set of open questions, which you can answer in any way you choose. It is a relaxed process which previous interviewees tell me can be very cathartic, although I don’t offer any advice or counseling. The interviews will be recorded, but your identity will be anonymised as soon as the interviews are transcribed.
Outcomes: The study is experiential, so I am really trying to understand what it feels like to be a woman going through a divorce in midlife. The first interview will take place at the beginning of the divorce process, and the second interview will explore how you reflect back on the experience and also, how you are feeling now. The study will also examine the different routes that women have taken to divorce and will compare the experience of using mediation against the experience to taking a legal route. This will provide much needed insight into the benefits or challenges of each path to divorce.
Ethics: The study has ethical approval from Birkbeck university and my supervisor is Jonathan A. Smith.
To take part in the study fill in this questionnaire: