Amicable vs. Messy Divorce? For Children, it May Not Matter

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Sep 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

Psychologists, family counselors, judges, and many lawyers will often discuss the benefits of an amicable divorce. Collaborative divorce is a growing area of family law allowing divorcing couples to negotiate their settlement and come to lasting agreements without going to court. While the trend towards amicable divorce (even “conscious uncoupling” in the case of Gwyneth Paltrow) is gaining traction,  anew study suggests that “amicable” divorces are just as damaging for children as those that are considered “messy.” This could undermine evidence and even government reports that point to conflict as the primary issue for children of divorce.


Researchers will often seek to find answers when it comes to the impact of divorce. For couples who are contemplating divorce, the numbers and surveys can be overwhelming, especially when you are trying to account for your own security and the interests of your children. Our Birmingham family law attorneysunderstand the conflicts faced by divorcing parents. While you want to protect your own interests and security, you also want to make the best decisions for the future of your children. As experienced advocates, we will take a strategic approach to review your case and objectives, identity the best legal course of action, and aggressively defend your rights and interests.

According to a recent study, the impact of divorce on children seems to be the same, regardless of whether parents maintain cordial or amicable relations. This study undermines a previous government-back consensus that conflict in divorce can harm children and that parents should attempt to “remain friends.” The study, carried out by U.S. academics was the first in 20 years to examine how the behavior of separated parents may impact the lives of children. The study examined 270 parents who were divorced or separated in a state that compelled divorcing parents to participate in co-operative co-parenting.

The research, published in the journal Family Relations, found that children of divorced parents were more likely to suffer from behavior problems or drug abuse. Many had other difficulties including anxiety or depression. Researchers found that the likelihood of these symptoms did not diminish, even if parents had an amicable split.

When contemplating divorce, you and your spouse may be amicable at times, fighting at others, and inconsistent about how you feel or how to proceed. Once you decide to move forward with divorce, you may feel completely at odds with the best course of action and how to protect your children's best interest. For parents who are looking to resolve a divorce with their children in mind, a new study may shed light on how the actual split will impact their children. The bad news is that a divorce can negatively impact your children. The good news is that there is no “right” way to divorce. All families must do the best they can to work towards lasting solutions. Still individual spouses must take informed and strategic legal action at the outset to protect their rights, interests, and their children.

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama


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