Many times parents feel like it is their obligation to stay married “for the sake of the children” – but more often than not, that can actually lead to more problems and issues for the children. While parents may have legitimate reservations about exposing their children to a potential divorce, many studies are beginning to show that the effects of divorce on children can be short term, with children tending to recover quickly after the initial effects of the divorce dissipate. In fact, recent studies show only a minority of children will suffer long-term from the effects of their parents divorcing.
There are, of course, many factors that will determine how quickly your children might bounce back, the most important factor being the ways in which the parents themselves deal with the divorce. Naturally, it stands to reason that the more contentious and adversarial the parents are with each other, the longer the effects of the divorce are likely to remain with the children.
So how do you determine if it is time to end your marriage? Well a good starting point is to you ask yourself, “Am I only staying in this relationship because of our children?” If your answer to that question is yes, then your answer should start to become clearer. The most important question, however, is whether or not the current home environment is healthy for your children. If there are periods of time where you don’t speak with your spouse, have regular verbal arguments over relatively minor issues, exhibit passive-aggressive behavior with each other in the presence of the children, or if you are both not actively engaged in creating a positive home environment for your children, then breaking up that dynamic may in fact be best for your children.
Many studies continue to show that regardless of whether children are in intact families, divorced families, or blended, re-married families, children who remain in unhappy, violent or aggressive homes will face substantial problems during their childhood, which will spill over into their adult lives and can have long-lasting implications for their own adult relationships.
Research into the issues related to divorce shows that while divorce may account for a sizeable disruption to a family following a divorce, after some time – usually about two years – families will generally begin to stabilize and in many cases, with that passage of time, parenting skills may actually improve. Interestingly enough, for all the research that has been done on the effects of divorce, there have never been any studies that have shown divorce to be universally bad for children.
Attorney Russell J. Frank is a partner at CPLS. P.A., and focuses his practice areas on family and marital law.