Are Married Parents Really Better for Children?

How many times have you heard a divorced (or soon to be divorced) parent state “We stayed together for the kids”?  We hear it all the time.  Even when recounting horrible acts of deceit, abuse or cheating, these people seem to think that they were doing what was better for their children: Stay married.

For years researchers have been trying to find direct evidence as to whether it is better for parents to “suck it up” and stay together or divorce and move on.  The evidence is divided.  Many studies suggest that children of divorced parents are more likely to grow up poor, have behavioral problems or experience health problems.

However, new studies are starting to address the quality of the family relationships.  It has been found that the quality of the relationship between parents definitely matters. According to a study from the Center for Law and Social Policy, children who grow up in married families with high conflict experience lower emotional well-being than children who live in low-conflict families, and they may experience as many problems as children of divorced or never-married parents.  Research indicates that marital conflict interferes with the quality of parenting.  Furthermore, experiencing chronic conflict between married parents is inherently stressful for children, and children learn poor relationship skills from parents who aren’t able to solve problems amicably. When parents have a highly discordant relationship, children are often better off in the long run if their parents divorce. Between 30 and 40 percent of divorces of couples with children are preceded by a period of chronic discord between the parents.  In these situations, children do better when their parents divorce than if they stay married.

If you are facing divorce, it may be less disruptive to your children to consider a collaborative divorce or mediation.  Collaborative Law is an alternative dispute resolution process in which the parties retain separate attorneys whose primary function is to help them reach an agreed settlement. The parties and their attorneys collaborate in good faith, and commit to communicate respectfully and honestly to represent the legitimate needs of both parties. The parties agree not to litigate, nor threaten to do so.  Mediation  during divorce is a way of finding solutions to issues such as child custody and spousal support. It is an alternative to formal process of divorce court. During mediation, both parties to the divorce and their attorneys meet with a court appointed third party. This third party, the “mediator” assists the parties in negotiating a resolution to their divorce.  Parties have the opportunity to discuss the issues, clear up any disagreements and come to an agreement that they both agree to.

Most parents try their hardest to be the best parent they can be.  We make many sacrifices in the name of raising our children to be happy, well-adjusted adults.    No matter whether you are a single parent, divorced or married, one of the most important things you can do is to create happy, emotionally healthy homes for them to be raised.

For more information on collaborative law, please visit here.

Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult an attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.