In the lead up to a divorce, those parents who argue are causing their child to develop at a slower rate in comparison to the actual divorce according to new research.
It has been found that a lot of the damage caused to children as a result of divorce is down to the arguing that occurs before the parents separate.
The research, carried out by the University of Yorkshire studied the data of 19,000 children who were born in 2000 and it identified that there are behavioural problems, hyperactivity and emotional development in those children of divorced parents who argued prior to the divorce being finalised.
Therefore, the research identified that children of divorced parents have reduced cognitive and non-cognitive skills when compared to those children who are not exposed to divorcing parents although the divorce itself is not the main reason for this.
A lot of the damage is caused by the circumstances prior to the divorce as well as the characteristics linked to the family. This could be down to many of those families having a lower education as well as struggling financially or they could have regular conflicts. The conflicts between parents could therefore, harm the development of a child more than the separation itself.
Those children that have separated parents have behavioural development problems that are 30% worse than those children who come from families that remain intact.
In England and Wales, the number of divorces occurring is on the increase. The majority of these divorces involve children who are below the age of 16 while 66% of them include children under the age of 11.
When it comes to helping children who are involved in a divorce, there are a number of things that parents can do to ensure they are affected as little as possible. Children are simply children and so, they do not need to see any conflict or discussions. These should take place at a time when the children are not around.
Children also benefit from a routine, this means it is important to keep any routine that they may have.
Any disruption can cause them problems so continue to take them to school or pick them up at the same time, visit grandparents in the way they do and if they take part in an activity during the week, continue the arrangement.
In addition to this, negativity can also have a detrimental impact on their development. They do not need to see or feel the negativity from the parents as this will also impact them.
Regardless of any problems between parents, the children still need them as parents so it is important that they continue to be involved in their lives.
It is now believed that the research could assist Government interventions in a positive way so that parents can be educated in a way that will allow them to understand how they could be having a negative influence on the way in which their child develops.
The results show that those interventions that are intended to enhance co-operation as well as those interventions that ensure parents are aware of how negative conflict can be could help to reduce the number of divorces which will help to improve the non-cognitive skills of children.
Kerry Smith is the head of family law at K J Smith Solicitors, a specialist family law firm who deal with a wide range of issues including divorce, domestic violence, civil partnerships and prenuptial agreements.