Many people can tell you that going through a divorce is a stressful event. Even after a highly litigious divorce is completed, parties may still disagree about certain aspects of the settlement, especially when children are involved. Studies have shown that a bitter divorce can have long term effects on a child's well-being. A 2010 study also suggests that a divorce can affect a child's long term relationship with their parents.
A study entitled, The Interactive Effects of Marital Conflict and Divorce on Parent-Adult Children's Relationships looks to see if conflict or divorce that occurs when a person is a child will affect their relationships with their parents as an adult. Researchers examined data from The Child Development Project which is an ongoing study that began in 1987 and studied participants from all the way through the age of 22. The participants were made up of a diverse group of predominantly middle-class students from the states Indiana and Tennessee. At the age of 22 the students were contacted by researchers and asked questions about their current relationship with their parents. This data was then compared to responses from previous surveys of the same participants to determine whether any influencing factors such as divorce or marital strain were previously reported.
The study found that in 14.8% of participants, the child's parents divorced when they were between the ages 6 and 10. In 9.9% of cases, the child's parents divorced when they were between the ages of 11 and 17. In the majority of cases where the child's parents divorced, participants reported that they live closer to their mother as adults and that they visit their father less often than their mother. This is likely due to the fact that more than 90% of participants with non-married parents reported living primarily with their mother as children.
Researchers also found that there was a correlation between adults' relationships with their parents and whether or not they experienced marital strain or divorce as children. Children who were subject to a lot of marital strain or a high conflict divorce were found to have fewer feelings of closeness and support from their parents as adults. The study also noted that participants whose parents divorced when they were very young had more feelings of closeness and support to their parents as adults when the divorce led to an end of conflict between parents.
These findings imply that parents who go through high conflict divorces can do serious damage to their relationship with their children that may never be repaired. The study states:
“Further, the stressful circumstances following divorce may disrupt the quality of interactions between residential parents and their children, which in turn, may affect the quality of the relationships between parents and adult children.”
Researchers suggest that, when parents are involved in a strained marriage, it can affect the child as well. When the marriage ends, the parent -child relationship can often be rebuilt as long as the divorce means an end of conflict. In cases where parents continue to fight post-divorce, children can often become alienated and feel less close to their parents. Additionally, children who are not granted adequate time with both parents may lose some feelings of closeness to one parent (often the father).
One way for parents to reduce the amount of conflict they experienced both during the divorce process as well as post-divorce is to consider Collaborative Divorce instead of the traditional litigation. When parties use Collaborative Divorce, they are able to work with their attorneys to find amicable solutions for their divorce issues. During the Collaborative process all parties work together rather than against each other to settle their divorce. It is beneficial in number of ways including minimizing the adversarial emotions that often arise during the litigation process between parties. Parents who use Collaborative Divorce must work as a team in order to develop a parenting plan that works best for them and their child. It will not be up to the Court to determine the best interest of the child, but instead the parents with the assistance of experts such as a parenting professional.
Using Collaborative Divorce can even help parents make a parenting plan that includes adequate parenting time so that children will be able to keep close relationships with both of their parents. Perhaps best of all, the process encourages a friendly and compromising relationship between parties which can lead to less conflict post-divorce as well.
If you are facing divorce in New Hampshire and are concerned about how it will impact your child and your future relationship with them, contact Russman Law to speak to an attorney about the benefits of Collaborative Divorce.