ObjectiveThe purpose of this study was to chart changes in self-esteem before and after marital dissolution to identify the factors that shape individuals' self-esteem during this life transition.MethodWe analyzed 10 annual waves of self-esteem data from 291 divorcees from a nationally representative panel study of the Netherlands (N ~ 13,000). We charted the course of self-esteem before and after marital dissolution and tested a broad set of moderator variables that may shape individuals' self-esteem trajectories.ResultsThe average divorcee experienced significant decrease in self-esteem preceding marital dissolution and remained stable afterward. There were substantial individual differences in self-esteem trajectories, both before and after marital separation. Divorcees who experienced financial hardship, were affiliated with a church or religion, or scored low in Conscientiousness showed the most pronounced decrease in self-esteem during the years approaching marital dissolution.ConclusionThis study highlights the importance of assessing people multiple times before and after marital dissolution to dissect how people approach and respond to this life event. Results are consistent with perspectives that view divorce as an opportunity to abate the strains of an unhappy marriage.