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Litigation. Collaborative Law. Mediation.

Typical Effects of Divorce on Children


Obviously, the best scenario for children is parents who are happily married and raising the children together.  Divorce takes its toll on children, and statistics show this to be true.  In 1994, a book written by McLanahan and Sandefur gave insight into single-parent families based on a decade of research.  They studied four national data sets and found that regardless of race or educational background, children from broken homes earned lower grades and were less likely to graduate from high school or attend or graduate from college.

However, how does a volatile, unhappy marriage affect children?  University of Notre Dame Psychologist, E. Mark Cummings Ph.D., and co-leader Patrick T. Davies, Ph.D. of the University of Rochester, N.Y. conducted three studies on children to evaluate the effects of parental fighting.

They studied 226 children from ages nine to 18 and also 232 kids who were kindergarten age.  They found that parental conflict in marriage was mainly a problem when the parents did not resolve their conflicts.  Ongoing conflict made the children experience depression, anxiety, and behavioral problems.

WebMD Health News provided the facts from the Cummings-Davies study along with findings of another psychologist Nancy Cahir, Ph.D.  She said her parental fighting observations were the same, and in addition, she believed that unresolved, heated arguments could be just as damaging as physical abuse.

What is the best way to divorce?

Resolving conflicts and creating an environment where children feel loved, have access to both parents, and receive guidance and discipline appear to be the key factors to children’s stability.  An adversarial courtroom battle that fuels conflicts and pits parents against each other does not accomplish a stable outcome for children.

However, through collaborative divorce, parents can work together in a cooperative environment, with access to professionals who can provide creative solutions for their disputed issues.  Most parents who divorce using collaborative law are able to part amicably and often find they are more able to communicate and be civil after divorce when dealing with child rearing issues.  More than any other approach to divorce, collaborative divorce works to foster mutual respect between divorcing spouses.

If you are considering divorce, find out more about collaborative divorce from an experienced divorce lawyer.