Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Family Issues 36:7 (June 2015), pp. 924–950. doi: 10.1177/0192513X13501666


Copyright © 2013 Deadric T. Williams, Jacob E. Cheadle, and Bridget J. Goosby; published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


We used the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study to examine an integrated mediational model linking economic hardship to relationship distress. Depressive symptoms, partner’s discord, parenting stress, and coparenting are combined into a joint model linking economic hardship to relationship distress among mothers and fathers in intimate relationships. Although economic hardship is significantly associated with each mediating factor, only discord is associated with both relationship distress and dissolution in the full model. Moreover, comparisons using multigroup structural equation modeling indicate that while economic hardship is associated with higher discord among both mothers and fathers, the influence is substantially larger among fathers. We suggest that the link between hardship and relationship distress is largely contingent on interactional processes (i.e., discord) and how mothers perceive their child’s father in the midst of economic hard times.