A recent study was designed to discover the effects of divorce on siblings through to adulthood, as they criticised most current studies had focussed on sibling relationships in childhood and adolescence (e.g., Amato, 1987; Mackinnon, 1989) or young adulthood (Mivelsky, 2004; Riggio, 2001). Majority of research studies have shown divorce to have a negative impact on sibling relationships, including (MacKinnon, 1989; Panish & Stricker, 2001; Sheehan, Darlington, Noller, & Feeney, 2004), who found sibling relationships are more hostile and conflicted, at a lower quality and with lower support in divorced families. Research suggests parental conflict associated with divorce can create stress for children, (Amato, 2000), which can affect them in two different ways. Firstly, the siblings may get closer, developing a sibling bond as support, (Bank and Kahn, 1982), or by transmuting stress into hostility and aggression towards other siblings, (Conger, Ge, Elder, Lorenz & Simons, 1994).
The aim was to further the understanding of the effect of parental divorce on sibling relationships using three main aims, to assess divorce in adulthood, to understand how parental conflict affects the sibling bond and to gain a deeper understanding of the conditions which parental divorce is more or less detrimental to the sibling relationship. The literature discussed suggests divorce has a negative effect on sibling relationships, and so it was expected siblings to have less contact, more conflict and lower relationship quality than siblings from intact families, co-operating these three areas into their study.