For children, a good divorce may be better than a bad marriage

This article looks at recent research into the surprising effects divorce has on young children.

Making the decision to get divorced is hard for any couple, but it can be particularly difficult for those who have children. Understandably, many people who are in unhappy marriages nonetheless choose to stay in those marriages because they worry about what impact a divorce will have on their children. Recent research, however, suggests that divorce may not be as bad for children as was previously believed. In fact, in many cases a divorce could prove beneficial for children, especially if it comes at the end of a high-conflict marriage.

High-conflict marriages

As Live Science points out, a study by researchers at Montclair State University in New Jersey looked at 7,000 families across the United States. The longterm survey began in 1987 and the participants were asked about questions related to marital conflict over a number of years. Additional surveys were carried out at different points until 2002.

The survey results showed that children of high-conflict marriages were better off as adults if their parents had divorced rather than if they had stayed together. The researchers point out that although children certainly experience negative effects in the immediate aftermath of a divorce, they are generally resilient and are able to quickly bounce back.

How children adapt

In fact, the resiliency of children has been highlighted by a number of studies looking at the effect divorce has on young people. As Scientific American reports, a University of Virginia study found that the negative emotions that children experience when they first learn about their parents' divorce, such as anger, anxiety, and disbelief, usually diminish entirely within two years. Only a very small percentage of children retain negative feelings related to the divorce for longer than that period.

In the long term, children are able to quickly adapt to new living arrangements. While it is true that divorce does have some long-term effects on children, such as an increased risk of divorces of their own during adulthood, in general children of divorced parents experience few major problems. Other studies have found that divorce had little effect on the academic performance, delinquency rates, or behavioral problems of children.

Making the best choices

Of course, the decision to get divorced is something that must be weighed very carefully. The above information, however, can help ease some of the worries that many parents feel when deciding to end an unhappy marriage. So long as those parents deal with their divorce in a calm and mature manner, however, then their children stand the best chance of being able to adapt to any new living arrangements they may encounter. A family law attorney can assist parents who are going through a divorce in a number of ways, including by helping to clarify issues related to custody and child support, as well as assist them with parenting plans that can help ease the transition to post-divorce life for families.