A study published in the American Sociological Review quantifies the potential impact of divorce on children and offers hope for parents that are able to navigate a fairly amicable divorce process. The study reveals that children of divorce tend to struggle in math, social skills and a number of other areas, but it also suggests that the impact may not be significant when divorces are relatively harmonious.
The research considered data from a longitudinal study of children from the time they were in kindergarten to fifth grade, allowing observation of all three stages – pre, mid and post-divorce. The study focused on children whose parents divorced between the first and third grade. The study specifically found that children whose parents divorced during this period were adversely impacted in the following areas:
Lower math proficiency
Difficulty maintaining friendships
Decreased ability to express their feelings in constructive ways
Less empathy toward others
Challenges relating to children who are different
While it may come as little surprise that children and divorce equal more challenges in interpersonal skills, the study also revealed a direct impact on academic performance. Interestingly, the study found that the dissolution of marriage seemed to affect only math performance and did not have a comparable impact on reading proficiency. The data indicated that children whose parents divorce were twelve percent less proficient in math. The researchers speculated that the disparity in results between the impact on math and reading skills might be tied to the cumulative nature of math. While math knowledge builds on prior foundational material, reading does not require a child to “catch up”. This explanation is also supported by the fact that children who were impacted by the divorce process did not close the gap over time in terms of lagging behind in math.
The study also found that pre-divorce conflict or animosity does not seem to have the same impact as an actual divorce. The researchers found that the academic impact on children occurred after the actual divorce process had been initiated even where there was conflict at the pre-divorce stage. Predictably, divorces that were relatively amicable did not show the same adverse impact as those where the proceedings were fairly contentious.
While it may be difficult to deal with the other parent following a divorce, this study shows that finding ways to resolve your differences amicably can have significant academic and socialization benefits for your children. Our experienced Visitation and Custody Lawyers are committed to guiding our clients and their children through the divorce process with an intent of obtaining a positive long-term parenting relationship with a minimum of disruption and stress. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at 866.989.8117 to learn about your rights and options.
The above information is designed solely to illustrate general principles of law, and does not constitute a specific legal opinion on individual cases. We suggest that you contact experienced legal counsel for a specific opinion tailored to your individual circumstances.