Recent analyses both question the assumption that parental separation only has negative effects on families and suggest that attention should be paid to the diversity of experiences post divorce. The latter may be accomplished by combining methods, examining different levels of individuals' experiences. Seventy-six mothers from separated and married families with a child aged 20 months participated in an interview and a life-events questionnaire and these are compared with a range of developmental tests conducted with the mother or child. Separated mothers reported more recent life events than married mothers and rated some more negatively and also others more positively. In regression analyses the only significant predictor of positive life experiences was marital status. Marital status and expressed difficulties in parenting predicted negative life experiences. The results suggest a subtle balance of disadvantages and gains post separation, which must be explored before longitudinal patterns of child and family adjustment are fully understood.