What Happens to Children of Divorce 30 Years Later? Virginia Lawyers Examine Longitudinal Study

As Virginia divorce attorneys, our goal is not simply to help our clients get through the divorce process but also to support them over the long term.

To that end, we found it very interesting to examine a recent study published in the April 2014 issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry: “Parental Separations/Divorce in Childhood and Partnership Outcomes at Age 30.” The authors wanted to figure out what happens to children who experience divorce or separation at young age. Do they suffer problems with relationships in adulthood, for example?

The Christchurch Health & Development Study (CHDS) examined what happened to 1,265 children born in New Zealand’s town of Christchurch in 1977, identifying how many separations and divorces occurred during childhood (age 0 to 15) as well as what the researchers called “partnership outcomes” for these children from ages 16 to 30.

As they partnered up, did they have positive or negative experiences? Did they suffer from inter-partner violence victimization? The researchers also tried to tease out what are known as “potential covariant factors” to make sure that the data they got was scientifically “clean” enough for them to make sound judgments based on it.

So what did they find?

According to the abstract: “study findings show the presence of significant associations between parental separation/divorces and number of cohabiting/marriage partnerships” as well as “negative partner relationships, extent of adjustment/conduct problems, and perpetuation of inter partner violence.” In conclusion the authors say: “These findings suggest that the general association between parental separation/divorce and partner relationships in adulthood reflect the consequences of… contextual factors that are associated with childhood parental separation.”

The study is fascinating, but you always need to be careful when using associations to draw conclusions. For instance, could there be common factors among the children who got divorced? Maybe there’s a genetic predisposition at play. Or maybe some other factor, such as income, was important. For instance, maybe children from poorer families were more likely to see their parents get divorced… and then get divorced themselves.

If you need assistance with your case, contact our experienced Fairfax divorce attorneys today at (703) 370-5555 to schedule a consultation.

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