The Unintended Effects of Divorce on Kids

Posted on November 30, 2014. Filed under: Divorce | Tags: , , |

  November 25, 2014

It’s long been known that children can suffer when their parents divorce — and new research has found the fallout to be surprisingly powerful, with effects ranging from poor test scores to the onset of eating disorders. But the good news, according to Resolution, the U.K. organization behind the survey, is that it’s the level of angry fighting, and not the divorce itself, that appears to cause the most fallout.

“It’s not so much the fact of parental separation, it’s the conflict,” Resolution director Jo Edwards tells Yahoo Parenting. “A lot of it is the way that parents manage their conflict.

The organization of 6,500 family lawyers, mediators, and therapists in England and Wales is one that believes in a non-confrontational approach to divorce and other family conflicts. It surveyed 500 young people ages 14 to 22 about the effects of divorce, and discovered, among other findings, that one in five said that the split negatively impacted their GCSE scores (similar to SAT scores here). One in eight, meanwhile, said they tried or newly considered trying drugs, and one in three noted having a change in eating patterns and the possible beginnings of an eating disorder. In addition, nearly a third of respondents reported that one parent had attempted to turn them against the other; one in four said parents tried to involve them in their dispute; and almost a quarter said they found out on social media that one of their parents had a new partner.

“We were surprised and quite shocked by the extent of some of the findings,” Edwards notes, particularly when considering the impact of the 230,000 people in England and Wales, many of whom are parents, who divorce each year. That number is even larger in the more highly populated U.S., of course, which sees more than 800,000 divorces annually. “Many think that court is the only way” to hammer out the details of custody and visitations during a divorce, she says. But when both parents use mediation or therapy, and agree to go through their divorce in “a more civilized way, focusing mainly on the good of the family,” she says, children fare better.

“It’s the hostility and anger that so often puts kids in the middle — and young kids, in particular, blame themselves,” Ken Neumann, a child psychologist and founder of the New York City based Center for Family and Divorce Mediation. “Then they believe they’re bad and incorporate that belief into their lives, which leads to low self-esteem, doing poorly in school, eating disorders, drugs.”

The trick, he notes, is to not ever put your kids in the middle, and to “never fight in front of the kids — not even over the phone.” Further, Neumann advises, “Don’t empower them to make decisions, like, ‘Do you want to spend the holiday with me or your dad?’ Children don’t feel taken care of if they’re given the choices. They want to see their parents in charge and making decisions, which makes them feel safe.”

Barbara Rothberg, a New York­–based divorce coach and family therapist, takes a particular tack when it comes to helping parents keep their anger at each other away from the kids. “I try to help them separate out the two roles, and to remind people that they are divorcing as spouses, not as parents,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. “I try to redefine it as a business relationship of parenting.” Because, she explains, unless there is abuse, the goal should be to help both parents be good parents. “Kids do very well if parents do not put them in the middle — if you don’t use them, do not express anger in front of them, don’t ask questions like ‘who was daddy with last weekend?’ That’s not to say you’re not furious, but you keep that separate. If you really care about your kids, you need to do this.”

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‘Disposable dads’ causing crisis in families as more boys aged 15 have a smartphone than live with their father

Posted on July 17, 2014. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation | Tags: , , |


Teenagers are more likely to own a smartphone than live with their fathers, according to a study.

It predicted that almost half of the children sitting their GCSE exams in 2020 will come from a broken home.

In a startling portrait of ‘broken Britain’, the Centre for Social Justice warned that a culture of ‘disposable dads’ had developed in poorer parts of the UK.

Dr Samantha Callan, David Cameron’s former family policy adviser, who co-wrote the report, said that young people should be encouraged to aspire to have children in wedlock.

Referring to a popular hit single, she added: ‘As Beyonce Knowles says in her song, “If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it”.

’The CSJ, an independent think-tank founded by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, warned that the Government was ‘sleepwalking into a family breakdown crisis’.

It claimed broken families were costing the taxpayer nearly £50billion a year, through welfare payments for single mothers and the additional strain on the criminal justice system, because the children of lone parents are more likely to end up in court and jail.

The report said fathers who did not live with their children should be given financial incentives to return to the family home.

They should also have the legal right to be named on their child’s birth certificate, it added. Currently, an unmarried father  cannot register his name unless the mother of his child agrees.

Dr Callan called for the Prime Minister to ‘back marriage with money’ and double the transferable tax allowance for married couples to £2,000.

Criticising Mr Cameron, she said: ‘Despite his genuine resolve, when it comes to the most pressing family policy priority of improving stability there is very little to show from that rightly ambitious rhetoric.’

The study found that while 62 per cent of 15-year-olds own a smartphone, only 57 per cent live with their fathers.

Tory MP Andrew Selous said: ‘It’s a very alarming and shocking statistic and a call to action to put strengthening family stability much higher up the political agenda.’

The report warned that the number of single-parent families had risen by 20,000 a year between 2010 and 2013.

It said 48 per cent of children aged five and under in the poorest 20 per cent of families were now from broken homes. The CSJ also found more than 1million children had lost contact with their grandparents as a result of separation or divorce.

The CSJ was set up by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who has argued marriage helps to prevent family breakdown

Christian Guy, the CSJ’s director, told The Sunday Times: ‘For too long family breakdown has gone unchallenged despite the devastating impact it has on adults, children and communities.’ Fiona Weir, chief executive of Gingerbread, the charity that supports single parents, said: ‘Most single parents are doing a good job.

‘Government spending should be focused on policies that make a real difference for families of all shapes and sizes.’

The CSJ predicted that by next year there will be 2million single-parent families.

It found that in the poorest neighbourhoods in the UK, three-quarters of families have a lone parent.

The Government will introduce a marriage tax allowance from next year, in an attempt to recognise the importance of the institution. It means that where one person in a marriage does not use their full income tax allowance, currently set at £10,000, they could transfer up to £1,000 to their partner, helping to reduce their tax bill by as much as £200 a year.

However, the CSJ says the Government should go further, and double the £1,000 transferable allowance to £2,000, resulting in a £400 tax benefit.

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Six nations press on Hague treaty

Posted on November 13, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Hague Convention | Tags: , , , , , , , |


The U.S., Canada and four other countries have jointly urged Japan to take legal steps to ensure that parents who have removed their children after the failure of international marriages will not be preferentially treated contrary to an international treaty on cross-border child custody disputes, government officials said Tuesday.

The six countries — including Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand — submitted the joint statement in writing, the officials said. It was part of the Justice and Foreign ministries’ one-month public consultation from the end of September on interim proposals for domestic legislation prior to Japan’s accession to the treaty.

The rare move reflects the countries’ strong interest in Japan’s accession to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The treaty is designed to ensure the prompt return of children who have been abducted from their country of habitual residence.

The envisioned domestic legislation would indicate that children will not have to be returned when the parent has fled an abusive spouse or could face criminal prosecution, presumably in connection with the abduction of offspring, in his or her country of habitual residence.

The joint opinion, submitted by the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo on behalf of the six governments, states that the interim proposals deviate from the convention, which allows the return of children to be rejected only when they could face a “grave risk” if returned, making spousal violence and other reasons inapplicable, the officials said.

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