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Are amicable divorces 'just as damaging for children'?

A US study concludes divorces in which the parents remain friends are just as damaging for the children, but are they?

A major study has suggested that parents who divorce but stay friends for the sake of their children are doing nothing to help their offspring. The study was conducted in the United States and examined 270 parents who split up between 1998 and 2004. It found that the impact the divorce had on children was the same regardless of whether the parents were amicable to one another or not. The research was carried out in an unnamed US state, which requires divorcing parents to be involved in an educational programme centred on 'co-operative co-parenting.' The study was the first of its kind for 20 years and was compiled by US academics. It involved children of a diverse range of ages with the average age being eight.

Of the 270 participating divorcees 31% considered that their relationship with their ex-partner was 'co-operative and involved'. 45% said they and their ex-spouse were 'moderately engaged' with a degree of conflict arising between them. 24% of the participants regarded their relationship with their ex as 'infrequent but conflictual.'

Behavioural problems higher amongst children whose parents divorce, says study

The study found that children whose parents had split up were more likely to suffer from "external" symptoms such as drug abuse, behavioural problems. Children of divorcing parents are more likely to suffer from emotional problems such as depression and anxiety, the study concludes, as well as doing less well at school.

Many studies have shown that children caught up in a divorce are more likely to have behavioural problems compared to children whose parents remain together. The recent US study however challenge the widespread notion that the damage divorce can have on children is limited if the parents remain friends.

According to Dr Jonathon Beckmeyer of Indiana University who headed the study, the behaviour of the children whose parents continued to argue fared no differently to divorced parents who remained amicable to one another.

'Sorting Out Separation'

In 2012 the Coalition Government in the UK launched a programme titled 'Sorting Out Separation'. The guide informs parents:

"It's not the separation itself that can cause harm to your children, it's the level of conflict that they see or hear between parents. This is universally recognised as being very harmful".

The programme goes on to state that it is in the best interest of children for parents to work together and the "More collaboration helps minimise the impact of separation on them".

What are your thoughts on so-called 'good divorces'? Is it a myth that children are less affected by a divorce if their parents remain friends?

'Settlement Orientated but Courtroom Ready'

Here at Tracey Miller Family Law we always look for the least confrontational way ahead in divorce cases. If you do have any questions or concerns about any aspect of divorce and separation and would like to friendly and professional advice, get in touch with Tracey Miller Family Law.