Children suffer more from the parental arguments before divorce than they do after the marriage has come to an end.
An academic from the University of York, Gloria Moroni, has suggested that behavioural issues such as hyperactivity or emotional development problems can be the result of such conflict. She analysed data from around 19,000 children who were born in the year 2000. Those whose parents divorced were, on average, 30 per cent more likely to display behavioural problems than children whose family was still intact.
However this does not mean that it is the divorce itself which causes such issues, the author insists. Moroni said:
“[T]he fact that children of divorced parents have on average lower cognitive and non-cognitive skills compared with children of intact families is not necessarily due to divorce itself”.
Cognitive skills include reading and paying attention, whereas non-cognitive skills are things like motivation and self-control.
Moroni claimed that the majority of the damage done was a result of the “pre-divorce circumstances and characteristics of the family”. Parents who argue and eventually divorce “may also be lower-educated, may also be poorer” she suggested.
Married couples with children should be made “aware of the potential negative impact of conflict” and called for “effective response to reduce the divorce gap, especially in non-cognitive skills of children”.
Back in 2014, then-Prime Minister David Cameron suggested that sometimes a parent’s divorce can be in their child’s best interests. The former Tory leader said that in cases of domestic violence, the priority should be “making sure people are safe, rather than keeping a family together”.
The findings of the University of York study were presented on Monday to the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference.