How should you time your divorce to do the least damage to your children?
Research on this subject is pretty scrambled. Part of the problem is that, to study marriage and divorce, researchers cannot conduct the gold standard of scientific experiments – double blind, random, placebo control experiments. For many reasons – expense, ethicality, etc – it’s just not feasible to do these kinds of experiments.
This makes figuring out what’s “true” about the effects of divorce on children quite challenging, because you can never know whether a particular change (or lack of change) caused a specific outcome.
You can group parents and children according to different categories and say certain things about those categories — e.g. “kids of young single mothers do worse in school” — but these so-called “association studies” don’t lead to insights about fundamental causes. For instance, maybe something about young single moms’ parenting skills causes their kids to underperform in school. Or maybe mothers who are more likely to give birth to kids at a young age also happen to be poor or to live in areas where all children underperform.
Much of the published research on these topics — including research discussed in august papers, like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times — suffers from this problem. Researchers can’t say for sure that “X causes Y,” because they can’t conduct randomized controlled trials and instead must rely on association data.
So what’s the takeaway for you? What should you do?
We’ll touch on strategies in the next post. For now, if you need assistance with a California divorce, call Dinnebier & Demmerle immediately to schedule a consultation with our team.