August 26, 2013

Will Divorce Ruin Your Life? Understanding Statistics.

StatisticsThe popular media makes a healthy profit on promoting disaster, and casting everything possible in the language of disaster.  “Shocking!” and “Horrifying!” are two words we see all too often.

Regarding divorce, the popular media has created disaster myths around such topics as:   failure of children (depression, suicide, academic failure, juvenile delinquency), financial failure, higher divorce statistics, etc.

What is the truth? To begin with, the United States divorce rate among the general population has been misinterpreted and exaggerated – it is not 50% and growing, and may in fact be 40% or less. Rates are even lower among college educated couples in the United States and may be less than 30%! This means that the chance for marital success in a second marriage may much higher than you think, especially if college education is factored in. Hollywood celebrities and other limited criteria skew the divorce statistics quoted by the media.

With respect to children, there are few long-term studies about the impact of divorce (specifically, 3 studies in the United States), and they do not determine disaster for children. The most recent studies indicate that it is the level of marital conflict – NOT divorce – which spells failure for children. What are the factors which can impact children in a positive way?

These studies seem to point to two major protective factors:

  1. Not using the children as message carriers between parents
  2. Giving the children permission to love both parents, wherever they go in life.

Modern psychological research indicates that children attach both to mothers and fathers, and in order to be whole people (not absorbing the irreconcilable conflict of their parents), they need to be free to love both parents whether they are in Mom’s house, Dad’s house, school or with extended family.  

“Your Dad loves you so much – I’m so glad you had fun with him last week – tell me all about it!” or “You are the most important part of your Mom’s life – aren’t you looking forward to going camping with her next week?” are the kinds of protective statements parents can make to their children.

What happens when parents can protect their children this way, even in the face of divorce?  The long-term studies report: even children who may be initially adversely affected by a separation can recover to meet their age-mates and peers in every category – including, they may not be any more likely to experience divorce in their own lives than the general population.

What about financial ruin? With options such as Collaborative Divorce, qualified financial experts help couples devise the smartest financial plan possible, to create more net income (reducing taxes) than they had in an intact family, and to help pay debt or other items which can help build a more sustainable cash flow in future.  Couples can decide to be smart instead of reactive in a divorce, and get to a better place instead of ruining their futures.

Readers who would like information on the studies cited should contact:   judith_h_johnson@hotmail.com or call: 952-405-2015.

Judith H. JohnsonABOUT THE AUTHOR
Judy Johnson
Collaborative Attorney

Judy is a Collaborative Divorce attorney who was a major contributing attorney author to the Minnesota Parenting Plan legislation., enacted in April 2000. She celebrates the fact that divorcing parents can now call themselves "parents" and not "custodians" of their children in Minnesota. Judy practices in Edina and helps her clients create the smartest and best futures for themselves and their families.

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