Although many family lawyers are well aware of the issue, a recent report highlights the long-lasting effects of divorce on children, showing that the destructive impact can be felt long into adulthood and even old age.
The government-backed report proves that divorce is just as devastating today – even though it is no longer taboo – as it was in the past. The report was produced by a team of senior academics and findings show that the damage of divorce continues to blight young lives.
The report states that parental separation in childhood was: ‘consistently associated with psychological distress in adulthood during people’s early 30s,’ adding that: ‘this seems to be true even across different generations, which suggests that as divorce and separation have become more common, their impact on mental health has not reduced.’
This latest report comes just a week after figures were published showing that almost half of all children have seen their parents separate by the time they are 15.
The report also said: ‘Family life has undergone dramatic changes over recent decades. Families no longer have to be two parents, they can contain children from different parents, and parents no longer have to be of different genders.’
However the report warned that: ‘More freedom also means less certainty and this has led to concerns about the impact of family stability on the health and well-being of both children and adults.’
‘Family living arrangements are related to children’s physical health. Children whose parents remain married throughout the early childhood years are less likely to suffer from breathing problems such as asthma, to become overweight, or to be injured in accidents by the time they are five years old than children who have experienced a more unstable family situation.’
The report has been published by the Economic and Social Research Council also added that tests to check levels of cortisol, a hormone linked to stress show that childhood experiences can effect people throughout their lives: ‘We have measured cortisol levels in thousands of adults at the age of around 60 to find evidence of long-term effects of psychological stress in childhood,’ the report said.
‘People were asked if they had been separated for more than one year from their mothers. The people who had experienced this much separation were found to have much higher cortisol levels. This tells us that childhood separation appears to result in an increased risk of a less health stress response many years later in childhood.’