Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 1392–1401 | Cite as

A pilot study to assess Coparenting Across Family Structures (CoPAFS)

  • Michael SainiEmail author
  • Marsha Kline Pruett
  • Jonathan Alschech
  • Abigail R. Sushchyk
Original Paper


Coparenting is conceptualized as a construct decoupled from gender role and family structure, referring to negotiated activities and relational aspects of two caregivers working together to raise a child. The purpose of this study is to test the construct validity and internal consistency of a newly constructed coparenting measure in a sample of parents with minor children still living in the home. Two hundred fifty-two parents completed a SurveyMonkey questionnaire online. Despite efforts to recruit a diverse sample, this pilot drew a Caucasian, educated, mostly female sample. They were more diverse in terms of marital status, hence the focus for this pilot. Psychometric properties of the 56-item CoPAFS scale and the 9 subscales composing the measure were calculated on the basis of the total sample. Confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) were conducted with a maximal likelihood estimation method for each of the 9 subscales. All domains were significant and ranged between .641 (Facilitative coparenting and Conflict) and .952 (Respect and the CoPAFS as a whole), and internal consistency was stable across family structures (cohabitating or separated). Good model fit was obtained across family structures, but gender comparisons will need to await a more diverse sample. Although distinct domains of coparenting were assessed and found to predict the model, the findings point to the importance of identifying a singular dimension underlying coparenting. This may best enable agencies to assess partners’ valuing of and potential to work together in child care. Implications for interventions are briefly discussed.


Coparenting Measurement Family structure Factor analysis 


Author Contributions

MKP and MS designed and executed the study, assisted with the data analyses, and the writing of the paper. JA and AS collaborated with the data collection, analyses, and editing of the final manuscript paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The study was approved by Smith College Research Ethics Board.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10826_2019_1370_MOESM1_ESM.docx (31 kb)
Supplementary Table 4-12


  1. Adamson, K. (2010). Using identity theory to develop a midrange model of parental gatekeeping and parenting behavior. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 2, 137–148.Google Scholar
  2. Ahrons, C. R. (1981). The continuing coparental relationship between divorced spouses. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 51(3), 415–428. Scholar
  3. Amato, P. R., & Rezac, S. J. (1994). Contact with nonresident parents, interparental conflict, and children’s behavior. Journal of Family Issues, 15(2), 191–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Austin, W. G. (2012). Relocation, research, and child custody disputes. In K. Kuehnle & L. Drozd (Eds.), Parenting plan evaluations: Applied research for the family court (pp. 540–559). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Austin, W. G., Pruett, M. K., Kirkpatrick, H. D., Flens, J. R., & Gould, J. W. (2013). Parental gatekeeping and child custody/child access evaluations: Part I: conceptual framework, research, and application. Family Court Review, 51(3), 485–501. Scholar
  6. Baril, M. E., Crouter, A. C., & McHale, S. M. (2007). Processes linking adolescent well-being, marital love, and coparenting. Journal of Family Psychology, 21(4), 645–654. Scholar
  7. Cabrera, N. J., Scott, M., Fagan, J., Steward‐Streng, N., & Chien, N. (2012). Coparenting and children’s school readiness: a mediational model. Family Process, 51(3), 307–324. Scholar
  8. Christopher, C., Umemura, T., Mann, T., Jacobvitz, D., & Hazen, N. (2015). Marital quality over the transition to parenthood as a predictor of coparenting. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(12), 3636–3651. Scholar
  9. Cowan, C. P., & Cowan, P. A. (2000). When partners become parents: The big life change for couples. Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  10. Cummings, E. M., Merrilees, C. E., & George, M. W. (2010). Fathers, marriages, and families. In M. E. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development (5th edn., pp. 154–176). Hoboken: Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  11. Dorsey, S., Forehand, R., & Brody, G. (2007). Coparenting conflict and parenting behavior in economically disadvantaged single parent African American families: the role of maternal psychological distress. Journal of Family Violence, 22(7), 621–630. Scholar
  12. Feinberg, M. E. (2003). The internal structure and ecological context of coparenting: a framework for research and intervention. Parent: Science and Practice, 3(2), 95–131. Scholar
  13. Feinberg, M. E., & Kan, M. L. (2008). Establishing family foundations: intervention effects on coparenting, parent/infant well-being, and parent-child relations. Journal of Family Psychology, 22(2), 253 Scholar
  14. Feinberg, M. E., Jones, D. E., Kan, M. L., & Goslin, M. C. (2010). Effects of family foundations on parents and children: 3.5 years after baseline. Journal of Family Psychology, 24(5), 532–542. Scholar
  15. Feinberg, M. E., Brown, L. D. & Kan, M. L. (2012). A multi-domain self-report measure of coparenting. Parenting: Science and Practice, 12, 1–21.Google Scholar
  16. Ganong, L., Coleman, M., & McCalle, G. (2012). Gatekeeping after separation and divorce. In L. Drozd & K. Kuehnle (Eds.), Parenting plan evaluations: Applied research for the family court (pp. 369-398). Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Hock, R. M., & Mooradian, J. K. (2012). Co‐parenting quality among adoptive mothers: contributions of socioeconomic status, child demands and adult relationship characteristics. Child & Family Social Work, 17(1), 85–95. Scholar
  18. Johnson, S.M. & O’Connor, E. (2002). The gay baby boom: The psychology of gay parenthood. New York, NY: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Johnson, S. M., O’Connor, E., & Tornello, S. L. (2016). Gay and lesbian parents and their children: Research relevant to custody cases. In L. Drozd, M. Saini & N. Olesen (Eds.), Parenting plan evaluations: Applied research for the family court (pp. 514–532). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Kelly, J. B., & Emery, R. (2003). Children’s Adjustment Following Divorce: Risk and Resilience Perspectives. Family Relations, 52(4), 352–362. Scholar
  21. Kitzmann, K. M., Gayford, N. K., Holt, A. R., & Kenny, E. D. (2003). Child witnesses to domestic violence: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71(2), 339–352. Scholar
  22. Kline, R. B. (2016). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (5th edn., pp. 188–211). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  23. Le, Y., McDaniel, B. T., Leavitt, C. E., & Feinberg, M. E. (2016). Longitudinal associations between relationship quality and coparenting across the transition to parenthood: dyadic perspective. Journal of Family Psychology, 30(8), 918–926. Scholar
  24. Luxton, M. (2011). Changing families, new understandings. The Vanier Institute of the Family.
  25. McBride, B. A., & Rane, T. R. (1998). Parenting alliance as a predictor of father involvement: An exploratory study. Family Relations, 47, 229–236.Google Scholar
  26. Maccoby, E. E., Depner, C. E., & Mnookin, R. H. (1990). Coparenting in the second year after divorce. Journal of Marriage and Family, 52(1), 141–155. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Madden-Derdich, D. A., & Leonard, S. A. (2000). Parental role identity and father’s involvement in coparental interaction after divorce: father’s perspectives. Family Relations, 49(3), 311–318. Scholar
  28. Margolin, G., Gordis, E. B., & John, R. S. (2001). Coparenting: a link between marital conflict and parenting in two-parent families. Journal of Family Psychology, 15(1), 3–21. Scholar
  29. McConnell, M. C., & Kerig, P. K. (2002). Assessing coparenting in families of school-age children: validation of the Coparenting and Family Rating System. Canadian. Journal of Behavioural Science, 34(1), 44–58. Scholar
  30. McHale, J. P. (1997). Overt and covert coparenting processes in the family. Family Process, 36(2), 183–201. Scholar
  31. McHale, J., Fivaz‐Depeursinge, E., Dickstein, S., Robertson, J., & Daley, M. (2008). New evidence for the social embeddedness of infants’ early triangular capacities. Family Process, 47(4), 445–463. Scholar
  32. McHale, J., & Irace, K. (2011). Coparenting in diverse family systems. In J. P. McHale & K. M. Lindahl (Eds.), Coparenting: A conceptual and clinical examination of family systems (pp. 15–38). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  33. McHale, J. P., & Lindahl, K. M. (2011). What is coparenting? In J. P. McHale & K. M. Lindahl (Eds.), Coparenting: A conceptual and clinical examination of family systems (pp. 3–12). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  34. McHale, J. (2007). Charting the bumpy road to Coparenthood: Understanding the challenges of family life. Washington, DC: Zero to Three.Google Scholar
  35. Mullett, E. K., & Stolberg, A. (1999). The development of the Coparenting Behaviors Questionnaire: an instrument for children of divorce. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 31(3-4), 115–137. Scholar
  36. Pruett, K., & Pruett, M. K. (2009). Partnership parenting: How men and women parent differently – why it helps your kids and can strengthen your marriage. Cambridge: Da Capo Press.Google Scholar
  37. Pruett, M. K., & Donsky, T. (2011). Paving pathways for parental cooperation, conflict resolution, and redefined family roles. In J. P. McHale & K. M. Lindahl (Eds.), Coparenting: A conceptual and clinical examination of family systems (pp. 231–250). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  38. Pruett, M. K., & DiFonzo, J. H. (2014). Closing the gap: research, policy, practice, and shared parenting. Family Court Review, 52(2), 152–174. Scholar
  39. Pruett, M. K., Cowan, C. P., Cowan, P. A., & Pruett, K. D. (2017). Enhancing father involvement in low-income families: a couples group approach to preventive intervention. Child development: Special Section, developmental Research and Translational science: Evidence-Based interventions for at-risk Youth and families, 88(2), 398–407.Google Scholar
  40. Pruett, M. K., Pruett, K. D., Cowan, P. A., & Cowan, C. P. (2017). Enhancing paternal engagement in a co-parenting paradigm.. Child Development Perspectives, 11(4), 245–250.10.1111/cdep.12239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pruett, M. K., Cowan, P. A., Cowan, C. P., Gillette, P., & Pruett, K. P. (2019). Supporting Father Involvement: a group intervention for low-income community and child welfare referred couples. Family Relations, 68, 51–67. 10.1111.fare.12352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Saini, M. (2012). Reconceptualizing high-conflict divorce as a maladaptive adult attachment response. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 93(3), 173–180. Scholar
  43. Stright, A. D., & Neitzel, C. (2003). Beyond parenting: coparenting and children’s classroom adjustment. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 27(1), 31–40. Scholar
  44. Teubert, D., & Pinquart, M. (2010). The association between coparenting and child adjustment: a meta-analysis. Parenting: Science and Practice, 10(4), 286–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Teubert, D., & Pinquart, M. (2011). The coparenting inventory for parents and adolescents (CI-PA). European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 27(3), 206–215. Scholar
  46. Trinder, L. (2008). Maternal gate closing and gate opening in postdivorce families. Journal of Family Issues, 29(10), 1298–1324. Scholar
  47. Van Egeren, L. A., & Hawkins, D. P. (2004). Coming to terms with coparenting: Implications of definition and measurement. Journal of Adult Development, 11(3), 165–178. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Saini
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marsha Kline Pruett
    • 2
  • Jonathan Alschech
    • 3
  • Abigail R. Sushchyk
    • 4
  1. 1.Factor Inwentash Faculty of Social WorkUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Smith College School for Social WorkNorthamptonUSA
  3. 3.University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Smith CollegeNorthamptonUSA

Personalised recommendations