For divorcing parties who have concerns that the separation will have a negative effect on their children, a 2008 study may be of interest. A study that originally appeared in The Journal of Marriage and Family found that children who lived in stable family situations post-divorce fared much better than those who experienced chronic instability suggesting that it is possible for them to overcome the hardships that divorce can have on children if their home life continues to be dependable after the divorce.
This study looked at data that was taken during the National Education Longitudinal Study which followed students across the United States beginning in 1988 when they were around the age of 14 and then continuing for 12 years until the age of 26 in order to see how events in their lives affected them into young adulthood. Researchers looked at 3 different groups of students:
- 5,303 children who grew up in households with parents that stayed married throughout the study.
- 954 children who grew up with parents that divorced at the beginning of the study but who lived in stable households from ages 14 to 18.
- 697 children whose parents divorced at the beginning of the study and whose family situation changed once or twice between ages 14 and 18. Changes included change of custody from one parent to another, one parent divorcing multiple times, etc.
Examining the Results
Researchers then looked at the status of these children when they were 26 in the year 2000. They examined each student's levels of education, income and whether or not they lived in poverty. Results were surprising. They found that those who grew up in post-divorce families that were stable had just about the same chances of attending college as those who grew up with married parents. However, those who grew up in unstable post-divorce family situations performed the lowest in all measures. They also saw that stable family children grew up to earn more money on average than those from unstable households. And these differences were significant. Children of unstable families were found to have “fared more than twice as poorly on most measures compared to their peers who had stable family situations”.
Researchers believe that a lot of these differences had to do with how the children were raised. They found that a lot of unstable post-divorce families had less financial resources and that these children had fewer interactions with both parents which included less talking about their future and school related matters. Co-author of the study and associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University's Mansfield campus, Yongmin Sun had this to say about this topic:
"A stabilized post-divorce family environment is clearly helpful for children, particularly for adolescents, such as those we studied, because stability allows children to focus on their own developmental needs rather than on continual family crises,"
What Divorcing Parents Can Do
While this concept seems simple enough in writing, divorcing parents may be unclear as to how to make sure that they are able to provide stable homes for their children after their divorce is completed. One way to achieve this is to prevent their relationship with their spouse from disintegrating during the divorce process. Parents who want to make sure their household remains stable should consider collaborative divorce.
Collaborative divorce is a relatively new way to settle divorces and it works to help couples settle disagreements amicably. Before the collaborative divorce process begins, both parties sign an agreement that they will avoid litigation. This forces them to work together to reach compromises on all aspects of their divorce agreement. By doing this, parties can work together rather than be combative during the divorce process often allowing them to have stronger relationships later on.
Choosing collaborative divorce can also be very beneficial to children going through the divorce. Not only will they not have to deal with the stress of parents battling in court, their parents can work together to come up with amicable solutions to common parenting issues. For example, a divorcing couple will work together to create a parenting plan, including who will have parental residential responsibility and how decisions about the child's education will be made, that is in the best interest of the child.
If you are considering a divorce in New Hampshire and would like to make sure that the impact on your child or children is minimized, call Russman Law to find out more about the collaborative divorce process and how it can work for you.