Palm Beach child custody attorney James S. Cunha and his legal team are committed to developing effective and amicable solutions for parents in child custody disputes. Although it can be very difficult to engage in a constructive parenting relationship with a former spouse, there is a substantial amount of evidence that the less contentious your custody case the better the outcome for your children. The results of a new study, which was published in the American Sociological Review, confirms prior evidence that the ability of parents to avoid animosity and conflict can have significant benefits for children of divorce.
The study tracked children from the time they were in kindergarten until they reached the fifth grade. The parents in the study divorced when the children were either in the first or third grade. The data revealed that children whose parents were involved in acrimonious divorces exhibit deficiencies in social skills, mathematics and a variety of other areas. What is particularly interesting about this report is that it found that these adverse effects were not present in children whose parents were involved in a reasonably cordial divorce.
The specific areas in which children of high conflict divorces demonstrated adverse effects included:
- Challenges in keeping friends
- Deficiencies in math performance
- Diminished empathy toward others
- Inability to relate to children of different backgrounds, races and personalities
- Difficulty with expressing emotions in positive ways
While a fair number of other studies have documented the emotional and behavioral impact of divorce, this study suggests that academic performance may also be adversely impacted. The results also are interesting because they clearly suggest that the divorce process, in of itself, does not necessarily have a negative impact on children. The key is how parents interact and the degree of hostility and conflict involved in the divorce. Interestingly, the researchers did not find that hostility and conflict prior to the divorce process had the same adverse effect. The disparity may be explained by the combination of conflict and loss of support systems during the divorce as well as the changes and transition that often accompanies the process.
One somewhat odd finding from the study is that reading skills do not seem to be affected by high conflict custody cases the way that math performance is impacted. The difference may be linked to the fact that math skills are built upon prior knowledge so that once material is missed and knowledge gaps exist it is difficult to make up for these gaps in the child’s knowledge. Credibility for this theory is found in the fact that children did not make up for this deficiency as time elapsed after the divorce. Those children whose parents were involved in high conflict custody disputes remained about twelve percent behind kids who parents were not involved in contentious divorce and custody cases.
Because our South Florida child custody law firm understands the importance of striving for workable parenting plans that shield children from avoidable conflict, we are committed to finding innovative solutions to help parents move past personal animosity.