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Divorce

Family Issues Guide

Divorce

For the last four decades, societies have been participating in a great social science experiment regarding divorce. The end result has been disposable marriages and shattered lives. Society's cavalier attitude towards marriage and divorce is not a positive phenomenon and has perpetuated a cycle of failed marriages and a lengthy list of associated social problems detrimental to children and to adults. Divorce is not a solo act, nor is it a victimless phenomenon. There is no debate that divorce has brought enormous physical, emotional, and economic harm to families and to society at large.

Governments have a great stake in responding to an epidemic divorce rate. Indeed, government can never create enough safety-net programs to compensate for such comprehensive failure in marriage. Divorce prevention should be a high priority around the globe, beginning with a renewed effort to provide positive pre-marriage training, crafting public policy to strengthen existing marriages and to create social and cultural environments supportive of the commitment to marriage. We must reverse the decades of marital decline by not buying into the divorce culture, notions of same-sex marriage, or any form of contemporary sexual liberation. We must regenerate a culture that understand the significance of marriage and in so doing give our children back their lives and their most basic human right — their mother and father bound together in a faithful marriage covenant.

“The scale of marital breakdowns in the West since 1960 has no historic precedent that I know of, and seems unique. There has been nothing like it for the last 2,000 years and probably longer." -- Lawrence Stone, Princeton University Family Historian

“Divorce can be deceptive — legally it is a single event but psychologically it is a chain, sometimes a never ending chain, of events, relocations and radically shifting relationships strung through time, a process that forever changes the lives of people involved.” --Judith Wallerstein, Second Chances

“Each divorce is the death of a small civilization.” -- Pat Conroy

“The culture of divorce recruits social support, compassion, and sympathy for the divorcing grown-ups and maintains a discreet silence about the plight of the children. {Divorce] has become an adult entitlement that has to be protected against challenge, criticism, or infringement.” --Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, The Culture of Divorce

“A culture of divorce soothes children with antidepressants, consoles them with storybooks on divorce and watches over their lives from family court.” -- Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, The Culture of Divorce

“It does not take a village to raise a child. It takes loving, responsible parents, two of them, together for the duration.” -- Harry Stein, How I Joined the Vast-Right Wing Conspiracy

Position Statement

Although necessary in extreme cases of abuse, divorce negatively impacts husbands, wives and children. Society's lack of understanding of the fundamental nature of marriage has brought about a retreat from this crucial institution. Societal approval of alternatives to marriage, “no-fault” divorce, the concept of disposable marriages, the rise in social insurance programs that make individuals less dependent on families, and the lack of societal pressure to marry and stay married have all coalesced to perpetuate the attitude that divorce is a viable solution to marital discord and a means to ensure individual happiness. Marriage is central to families and is the cornerstone upon which healthy and progressive societies are built. When marriages and families are healthy, communities thrive; when marriages break down, communities break down. Governments and societies should promote marriage and conflict resolution, not dissolution of the family unit, when relational problems arise.

United Families International supports laws, policies and programs that strengthen marriage and discourage divorce (except in extreme cases of abuse). We also extend a hand of compassion and help to individuals and households whose circumstances fall short of the ideal.

Myth and Reality

Myth:Marriage dissolution, although problematic, does not pose a major threat to the well-being of children of divorce.

Reality: By almost every measure, children of divorce fare worse than their peers in intact families. The children of divorce are more likely to engage in behaviors that lead to higher rates of crime, drug use, child abuse, poor educational performance, higher incidence of behavioral, emotional, physical, and psychiatric problems. Such behavior set in motion a downward cycle of dysfunctional behavior and despair that compounds those problems for their own children and future generations of children. Because of divorce, increasing numbers of children live in economic insecurity and disadvantage, including fragile and unstable family households.

Mounting evidence in social science journals demonstrates that the devastating physical, emotional and financial effects that divorce has on children can last well into adulthood and affect future generations.Study after study shows that children from stable family environments have better lifelong health outcomes than children who reside in alternative family situations. That does not mean that a child coming from broken home or single-parent situation cannot turn out to be a healthy, well-adjusted, contributing member of society. But the probabilities are very clear in terms of the overall spectrum.

See Fast Facts and Commentary #6, 13, 22-61, 62-92, 97, 103-113.

Myth:Divorce does not harm children, and in most cases it leads to greater happiness for children because of decreased tension in the home, new experiences, and greater opportunities for independence and growth.

Reality: Although adults may enjoy a sense of freedom in the pursuit of a new and satisfying intimate life, divorce results in children's lives becoming increasingly subject to rearrangement, instability and emotional upheaval. The devastation children feel on the heels of their parents' divorce is similar to the way they feel when a parent suddenly dies, for both experiences disrupt close family relationships.

Divorce changes the very nature of childhood. Divorce can sever the crucial bond between a child and one or both of his or her parents. And tragically, divorce has brought about a mass exodus of fathers away from close association with their children. After divorce, parental time and money invested in their children is greatly diminished. Children receive less time and attention from parents because it is now being directed towards establishing new patterns of living which may include a new spouse and/or step-family. Spending time between multiple, unstable households, children are forced to deal with a new set of problems.

Divorce disrupts a child's relationship with a parent and often creates unresolved feelings of loss and grief that are not shared by the other parent. Divorce is a different experience for children and adults because the children lose something that is fundamental to their development — the family structure. The family comprises the scaffolding upon which children mount successive developmental stages, from infancy to adolescence. It supports their psychological, physical, and emotional ascent into maturity. When that structure collapses, the child is left impoverished, both economically and emotionally.

See Fast Facts and Commentary # 14-44, 45-78, 79-92, 96-114.

Myth: Children are better off with divorced parents than parents who fight and don't get along.

Reality: Barring cases of extreme abuse, research has shown that a child is better off if the parents resolve their differences and the family remains together, even if the long-term relationship is less than perfect. If divorce were limited to only high-conflict, abusive marriages, then divorce may generally be in children's best interests. The rate of divorce because of abuse, however, is less than 30 percent. Marital dissolution has become increasingly socially acceptable, and people are leaving marriages at lower thresholds of happiness now than in the past. Marriages have become easily disposable.

Many adults who are in very unhappy marriages would be surprised to learn that their children are relatively content. Keeping their family together is usually more important to children than if mom and dad sleep in different beds. First marriages that are troubled are predictably better for children than the alternatives.

See Fast Facts and Commentary #75-76, 36-44, 62-74, 79-85.

Myth: Single parents are as capable as married biological parents of raising healthy, happy children.

Reality: Evidence suggests that a family built around a married couple (man and woman) and their biological or adopted children is better at building high levels of child nurture and strong parent-child bonds that in turn will build a successful next generation. The nuclear family structure has always had a greater capacity to generate the time, money and supervision that are required for raising children and is even more important in an increasingly complex and demanding economy and society. The nuclear family can focus all of its resources and attention upon the children and not have attention diverted towards fragmented relationships. Components -- such as few economic resources and subsequent time restraints of single parenting -- place children raised in single-parent homes at a disadvantage. Children raised by single parents have lower levels of social, economic, and academic well-being and more behavior problems. There is no shortage of evidence that raising children is much more difficult alone than with a cooperating spouse. The problems and subsequent outcomes associated with single parenting are well documented. A father can never fulfill the role of a mother, and a mother can never fulfill the role of a father.

Many families breakup due to a physically or mentally abusive spouse. These families need compassion and help. Many of these parents are doing admirable jobs against great odds and are raising obedient, intelligent children who will go on to make valuable contributions to society. The data presented here should not be seen as an attack upon these families. Moreover, it is an attack upon family relativism; the popular idea that it doesn't matter how people arrange their domestic lives. The massive body of research reveals that it does matter how people arrange their domestic lives, and marriage matters greatly in the lives of adults, children, and society.

See Fast Facts and Commentary #13, 23-52, 53-78, 79-92, 96-114.

Myth: Families come in all shapes and sizes; any group of people who live together and care for one another can provide adequate physical and emotional support to children.

Reality: All family structures do not produce equivalent outcomes for children. Research evidence on family and children, accumulating for two decades, points to one overwhelming conclusion: Children are most likely to be healthy, happy, well-behaved and responsible; most likely to succeed in school and in life; and least likely to be promiscuous, delinquent, or substance abusers if they live with their two natural parents who are lawfully married. Any variation from this model— cohabitation, legal separation, divorce, single-parents or even remarriage — will predictably lead to more negative results for children.

The divorced family is a different kind of family in which children feel less protected and less certain about their future than children in intact families. Mothers and fathers who share their homes with different people are not the same as mothers and fathers living under the same roof. The divorced family has an entirely new cast of characters and new relationships featuring step-parents, step-siblings, second marriages and second divorces, and often a series of short-term, live-in lovers. The child who grows up in a post-divorce family often experiences not one loss — that of the intact family — but a series of losses as people come and go. This new kind of family puts very different demands on each parent, each child, and each of the new adults who enter the family home.

Evidence suggests that families structured around a married couple and their biological or adopted children is more successful at forging strong parent-child bonds and promoting high levels of affectionate child nurture. In a post-industrial society with its increasing demand for parental time and money, the nuclear family model (married man and woman and biological or adopted children) has become even more crucial.

See Fast Facts and Commentary #13, 23-52, 53-78, 79-92, 96-114.

Myth: There are studies and books that now show the majority of parents and children recover adequately from the pain and upheaval of a divorce.

Reality: Even the most optimistic divorce studies and books do not refute the negative statistics regarding divorce. They simply reframe the argument with positive spin by stating that the majority of people (70-75 percent) will recover. Should a society so easily accept the loss of one out of every four of its children or grandchildren to serious emotional, social and physical problems that come as a result of disposable marriages and easily-obtained divorce? Can our governmental, educational, and societal institutions withstand and compensate for the impact of such harm being visited upon, best case, one-fourth of children who live through divorce?

See Fast Facts and Commentary # 73, 118, 122, 124, 127, 131, 136-142, 151.

Myth: People who are unhappy in their marriage will be happier if they divorce.

Reality: Unhappily married adults who divorced were no happier than unhappily married adults who stayed married, when rated on any of 12 separate measures of psychological well-being. While divorce may eliminate some types of stress and possible harm, it is a breeding ground for other types of life problems. Divorce does not typically reduce symptoms of depression, raise self-esteem, or increase a sense of mastery. This is true even after controlling for race, age, gender, and income. Unhappy spouses who have divorced and re-married are no happier on average than those who stayed married. Contributing factors include the response of one's spouse to divorce; the reactions of children; potential disappointments and aggravation in custody, child support, and visitation orders; new financial or health stresses for one or both parents; and new relationships or marriages. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, The Divorce Culture, Vintage Books (Random House, Inc., New York, 1996).

See Fast Facts and Commentary #1, 4, 5, 6, 9-11, 93-114, 124-136, 158.

Myth: Sometimes in marriage people just choose the wrong person; it is better to admit the mistake and give both people the opportunity to go and find their true soul mate.

Reality: The idea of a “soul mate” is false and often harmful. This false notion implies that there is someone in the world who is the perfect marriage partner and the only person in life who can truly make one happy. Successful marriages are created when individuals focus on “being the right person,” rather than looking for perfection in their spouse. One who seeks to marry the perfect person or to have a perfect marriage will be disappointed and more likely to divorce. There is no perfect marriage. Successful marriage requires commitment and hard work. A couple can be successful in a marriage when 1) they have done a reasonable job of selecting a like-minded mate; 2) they are committed to marriage in spite of the inevitable challenges; 3) they are more concerned about their spouse than themselves and 4) there is a mutual commitment to children and future generations.

All the evidence of long-term marital success suggests that partners should be selected mainly on the grounds of mutual compatibility and shared attitudes, values, and beliefs, grounds extending far beyond sexual attraction and the modern-day concept of love. David Popenoe, Life Without Father: Compelling New Evidence that Fatherhood and Marriage are Indispensable for the Good of Children Society (New York: Free Press. 1996): 202.

A strong commitment to staying married not only helps couples avoid divorce, but it helps more couples achieve a happier marriage. A successful marriage is not a lottery with increased chances of winning the more one plays the game.

See Fast Facts and Commentary #1, 4, 5, 143-161, 163-169.

Myth: A women can be a better mother if she is able to escape an unhappy marriage.

Reality: This type of thinking supposes that if parents are happy, their happiness will trickle down to their children. Researchers reported that, in only a few families did the mother-child relationship in the post-divorce family surpass the quality of the relationship in the failing marriage at the 10-year mark, over a third of the good mother-child relationships had deteriorated, and mothers were emotionally and physically less available to their children. Judith S. Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee, Second Chances: Men, Women and Children A Decade After Divorce (New York. Ticknor and Fields) 1990.

Positive parenting scores were significantly higher for married mothers than for divorced mothers, and divorced mothers became less positive following the divorce. Children growing up in divorced-mother households evinced a significantly elevated propensity to lie, to destroy property, and to associate with other children who got in trouble. Jeanne M. Hilton and Ester L Devall, “Comparison of Parenting and Children's Behavior in Single-Mother, Single-Father, and Intact Families," Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 29, 3/4 (1998): 23-50.

See Fast Facts and Commentary #14-22, 62.

Myth: The feminist movement has advanced the cause of women by bringing greater equality including greater freedom to dissolve unhappy marriages, greater equality and independence in family life, and more career opportunities.

Reality: Divorce has generated new forms of inequality for women. It has contributed to greater economic insecurity and poverty. It is hard to think of any economic force that is as efficient as divorce in transforming women into “have-nots.” Divorce has not moved women closer to the social goal of gender equality. Women now bear double responsibility for breadwinning and child-rearing and many bear these burdens alone.

Though divorce can either “free” a woman to join or “force” her into the workforce, her increased focus and time directed at the workplace does not reliably lead to greater economic well-being and satisfaction for herself or for her children, but has left women running harder and falling further behind. In addition, increased divorce rates and working single parents have contributed to the phenomena of unsupervised latch-key kids and the associated problems of juvenile emotional problems, delinquency and teen pregnancy, among others.

See Fast Facts and Commentary #2-4, 14-22, 96-114, 115-122, 153-157.

Myth: Divorce is a private matter and government should have no interest in, nor make policy, to discourage divorce.

Reality: Family preservation must become a major public policy focus. Currently, society absorbs tremendous costs for the consequences of divorce (welfare dependency, foster care, juvenile crime, and massive public bureaucracy devoted to managing and regulating the parental tasks and obligations of raising children, etc.) for the 14.8 million children from divorced families, but gives almost no attention to prevention. Rather than encouraging divorce through expansion of no-fault divorce and more court proceedings, public policy must focus on divorce prevention and family preservation. Rocky Mountain Family Council: Divorce Reform Fact Sheet www.marriageproject.org/fs0024.html

Federal and state governments spend about $150 billion each year subsidizing single-parent families. They also spend $150 million each year in an effort to reduce out-of-wedlock births and divorce. For every $1,000 that government spends on providing services to broken families, it spends $1 dollar trying to stop family breakdown. In return, society receives for its investment broken families, troubled children, and increased social problems. Patrick Fagan, “Encouraging Marriage and Discouraging Divorce” The Heritage Foundation Backgrounder Report. No. 1421 ( March 26, 2001 ): 1.

There is an irreplaceable role for political leadership in the current divorce crisis. This role is not to take the place of the parents, the family or community, but to articulate a compelling, positive vision of the nation in terms of family and community life and to ensure that policies do not harm the institution of marriage and undermine intact families.

See Fast Facts and Commentary #10-13, 22-52, 53-85, 86-114, 115-136.

What can government do to discourage divorce and strengthen marriage?

The federal government should:

  • Establish, by resolution, a national goal of reducing divorce among families with children by one-third over the next decade.
  • Establish pro-marriage demonstration programs by diverting sufficient funds from existing federal social programs into programs that provide training in marriage skills.
  • Mandate that surplus welfare funds be used to strengthen marriages and slow the increase in family disintegration.
  • Rebuild the federal-state system for gathering statistics on marriage and divorce, which ended in 1993. Without such data, the nation cannot assess the true impact of divorce on the family, children, the schools, the community, and the taxpayer.
  • Create a public health campaign to inform Americans of the risks associated with divorce and of the long-term benefits of marriage.
  • Give a one-time tax credit to first-marriage couples when their youngest children reach 18. This small reward for committing one's marriage to nurturing the next generation into adulthood will help to offset the current marriage penalty in the tax code.

States should:

  • Establish a goal to reduce the divorce rate among parents with children by one-third over the next decade and establish pro-marriage education and mentoring programs to teach couples how to develop skills to handle conflict and enhance the marital relationship.
  • Require married couples with minor children to complete divorce education and a mediated co-partnering plan before filing for divorce.
  • Promote community-wide marriage programs for couples planning to get married and marriage-mentoring programs for couples in troubled marriages.
  • End "no-fault" divorce for parents with children under age 18, requiring them to prove that grave harm will be visited upon the children by having the marriage continue. Recommendations from the Heritage Foundation, Washington D.C. 2000.

www.heritage.org/Research/Family/BG1373.cfm

Myth: Re-marriage and entrance into a step-family can provide a stable and secure situation that can help children overcome the negative effects of divorce.

Reality: Although half of all children in single-mother families eventually will live with step-fathers, half of these new marriages are likely to end in divorce, contributing to a pattern of family instability and hardship. Children in step-families experience family incomes almost equivalent to intact, original, two-parent homes, yet they were two to three times more likely to suffer emotional and behavioral problems and nearly twice as likely to have developmental or learning problems as children in intact families. Children in step-families are more likely to drop out of high school, become unwed teenage mothers, and less likely to hold steady jobs as young adults as are children who grew up with both parents still married to each other. Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, Growing up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press 1994) 88-91.

Re-marriage by a mother may bring positive results to her, but it can also pose particular risks to children. Although the re-marriage can yield positive results, more often, children treat the step-parent as a rival and an intruder. Step-fathers pose a higher sexual risk to step-children and are less likely to protect daughters from male predators. Parental re-marriage and the re-creation of a two-parent family did not appear to restore the distant relationships that divorce rendered between children and parents. Children living with a step-parent reported significantly less parental contact than did children from intact families. Diane N. Lye, Daniel H. Klepinger, Patricia Davis Hyle, and Anjanette Nelson “Childhood Living Arrangements and Adult Children's Relations with their Parents" Demography , 32 (1995): 261-280.

See Fast Facts and Commentary #7, 14-22, 38, 40, 43, 49, 57-59, 62, 81, 86-92, 117, 145, 146.

Myth: Most developed nations have high-divorce rates. Societies and their governments should accept this fact and institutionalize divorce by building adequate safeguards and social understandings to alleviate its negative impact.

Reality: Societies should not respond with passive resignation or lower the bar and accept the relentless advance of a divorce culture. Divorce is not a solo act; but one that has profound consequences for children and for societies. The negative social repercussions of divorce should be publicized in order to bring about positive solutions. Societal leaders should candidly speak up about the high costs of divorce, as well as the moral obligations that parents have to their children. Governments should not be silent out of fear of “blaming” and thus psychologically burdening divorcing adults. Divorce is self-perpetuating and every effort must be made to stop this downward spiral that weakens families, adults, children and societies. The same activism that has inspired and brought about change in other damaging societal trends should be brought into play with regard to divorce.

See Fast Facts and Commentary #10, 11, 13, 137-142, 143-161, 162-169.

Myth: A divorce, although expensive, is money well spent. Any resultant economic downturn is worth the chance at future happiness.

Reality: The cost of divorce has a dramatic impact on standard of living and often plunges women and children into poverty Divorce related costs can include; child support, alimony, visitation expenses, extra housing, moving, etc. Legal fees alone regularly approach $10,000. However, the $10,000 figure, assumes that a divorce is amicable and that there is no sizeable property to be to be divided. Because the outcomes are difficult to predict, it is unusual for a divorce lawyer to give a client an estimate. The hourly wage for many attorneys today is $200-$300. A common scenario is that one spouse, or both, chooses to be uncooperative and uses the court system to escalate the battle in an attempt to spend the other spouse into legal submission.

A custody fight, on average, can cost upwards of $25,000 and court battles can drag on for years. Rancorous custody battles can result in one parent trying to spend the other into submission and forcing the other to make difficult choices on whether to fight or concede custody/visitation rights. After the settlement or the court decision, either parent can perpetuate the legal war by returning to court in subsequent years to try the case all over again with ongoing contentiousness and acrimony over custody, visitation arrangements, or other issues until the children are grown.

Given the strong likelihood that following divorce, one or both parents and the children will suffer declines in the quality of living, the expenditure of thousands of dollars on divorce proceedings is counter-productive. The happiness and freedom sought in divorce often is not realized. In the end, the “gains” realized in divorce do not outweigh the losses and neither party triumphs.

See Fast Facts and Commentary #2, 11, 96-114.

Fast Facts Index

  • General Facts 1-13
  • Divorce & Its Impact on Children
    • Parenting & Divorce 14-22
    • Crime 23-35
    • Sexual Activity 36-44
    • Substance Abuse 45-52
    • Education 53-61
    • Mental & Physical Outcomes 62-78
    • Depression & Suicide 79-85
  • Domestic Violence & Abuse 86-95
  • Standard of Living 96-114
  • General Health of Adults 115-123
  • Adult Depression 124-136
  • Circle of Divorce 137-142
  • Causes of Divorce 143-161
  • Public Perceptions of Divorce 162-169

Fast Facts and Commentary

General

  1. 1. Two-thirds of unhappily married spouses who stay married reported that their marriages improved within five years. The most unhappy marriages report the most dramatic turnarounds: among those who rated their marriages as “very unhappy,” almost eight out of 10 who avoided divorce are happily married five years later. Linda J. Waite, Don Browning, William J. Doherty, Maggie Gallagher, Ye Luo, and Scott M. Stanley, “Does Divorce Make People Happy? Findings from a Study of Unhappy Marriages,” (New York: Institute for American Values, 2002): 148-49.
  2. The direct and indirect economic consequences of divorce cost the U.S. government $33.3 billion per year that breaks down to $312 per U.S. household. It is estimated that each divorce costs each spouse $18,000 and the U.S. government $30,000. David Schramm, “Preliminary Estimates of the Economic Consequences of Divorce,” Utah State University, June 25, 2003.
  3. The largest federally funded study on divorced fathers found that women initiate two-thirds of divorces. Sanford L. Braver and Diane O'Connell, Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths (New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1998): 133.
  4. Current estimates are that about one-third of divorcees feel they made they right decision, another one-third are uncertain or have mixed feelings about their divorce and approximately one-third of divorcees eventually regret the decision within five years. Brent Barlow, “Marriage Crossroads: Why Divorce is Often Not the Best Option,” Marriage and Families, School of Family Life, Brigham Young University, January 2003.
  5. Unhappy marriages are less common than unhappy spouses; three out of four unhappily married adults are married to someone who is happy with the marriage. Linda J. Waite , Don Browning, William J. Doherty, Maggie Gallagher, Ye Luo, and Scott M. Stanley, “Does Divorce Make People Happy? Findings from a Study of Unhappy Marriages” Findings from the National Survey Data,” (New York: Institute for American Values, 2002).
  6. Divorce, although beneficial to some children, has in balance been detrimental to most children. Carol L. Gohm et al.,"Culture, Parental Conflict, Parental Marital Status, and the Subjective Well-Being of Young Adults," Journal of Marriage and the Family 60 (1998): 319-334.
  7. Fifty-Four percent of divorced women re-marry within five years and 75 percent re-marry within 10 years. Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage in the United States National Center for Health Statistics, Table 37. Matthew Bramlert and William Mosher, “First Marriage Dissolution, Divorce, and Remarriage: United States,” Advance Data from Vital Health Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics (Hyattsville, MD 2001): No. 323.

  8. Twenty percent of first marriages end within five years, and 33 percent end within 10 years. Mathew D. Bramlett and William D. Mosher, First Marriage Dissolution, Divorce and Remarriage: United States, Advance Data, National Center for Health Statistics (May 31, 2001): 1.
  9. 1998 study of research done in 17 nations found that married men and women report significantly higher levels of happiness than do unmarried people. Steven Stack and Ross Eshleman, “Marital Status and Happiness: A 17-Nation Study” Journal of Marriage and the Family 60 (May 1998): 527-530
  10. Between the years 1950 and 1996, the annual divorce rate increased by 89 percent, while the annual marriage rate among unmarried women age 15 and older decreased by 45 percent. U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1998, Washington, D.C., Table No. 156; U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1985, Table No. 120; and Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1970, Table No. 75.
  11. Federal and state governments spend about $150 billion each year subsidizing single-parent families. They also spend $150 million each year in an effort to reduce out-of-wedlock births and divorce. For every $1,000 that government spends on providing services to broken families, it spends $1 dollar trying to stop family breakdown. In return, society receives for its “investment” broken families, troubled children, and increased social problems. Patrick Fagan, “Encouraging Marriage and Discouraging Divorce” The Heritage Foundation, Executive Summary #1421 (March 26, 2001): 1. http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/BG1421ES.cfm.
  12. “I have heard too many disillusioned individuals express regrets about their belief that their ex-spouse was the problem only to discover similar problems in their second marriages or, even more surprisingly, in their new single lives.... And then there are the children, who are also the victims in a divorce. ...Battles over parenting issues don't end with divorce; they get played out even more vigorously with children as innocent by-standers or even pawns.... I have come to the conclusion that divorce is not the answer. It doesn't necessarily solve the problems it purports to solve. Most marriages are worth saving.” Michele Weiner-Davis, Divorce Busting. (New York: Summit Books 1992).
  13. There is new group of people in the public debate telling us that children should be raised in a home with a married mother and father. These are not religious moralists but rather, social scientists, and their collective work is reaching some definitive and authoritative conclusions. These researchers have found that the breakdown of the traditional two-parent family breakdown is the engine driving a number of society's most pressing problems. These problems include a marked decrease in physical and mental health, lagging educational attainment, and exploding rates of poverty, crime, and
    illegitimacy. Glenn T. Stanton, “Why Marriage Matters: What's Marriage Got to Do With It?” http://www.divorcereform.org/mel/abenefitsofmar.html
  14. Divorce and Its Impact on Children

    Parenting and Divorce

  15. Of the children born to married parents, half will experience their parent's divorce by the age of 18. Larry, Bumpass "Children and Marital disruption: A Replication and Update,” Demography 21 (1984): 71-82.
  16. Parental re-marriage and the re-creation of a two-parent family did not appear to restore the distant relationships that divorce rendered between children and parents. Children living with a step-parent reported significantly less parental contact than did children from intact families. Diane N. Lye, Daniel H. Klepinger, Patricia Davis Hyle, and Anjanette Nelson "Childhood Living Arrangements and Adult Children's Relations with their Parents " Demography 32 (1995): 261-280.
  17. Single mothers on average report more conflict with and less monitoring of their children than do married mothers. Alan C. Acock and David H. Demo, Family Diversity and Well-Being (Thousand Oaks , Calif.: Sage): 1994.

  18. As adults, children from intact marriages report being closer to their mothers on average than do children of divorce. Paul R. Amato and Alan Booth, A Generation At Risk: Growing Up in an Era of Family Upheava. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press: 1997.
  19. In one nationally representative study, 30 percent of young adults whose parents divorced reported poor relationships with their mothers, compared to 16 percent of children whose parents stayed married. Nicholas Zill et al., “Long-Term Effects of Parental Divorce on Parent-Child Relationships, Adjustment, and Achievement in Young Adulthood,” Journal of Family Psychology 7, 1(1993): 91-103
  20. Single-parent families takes a toll on the mother-child bond. Chase-Lansdale, Lindsey, Lauren Wakschlag, and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, “A Psychological Perspective on the Development of Caring in Children and Youth: The Role of the Family,” Journal of Adolescence 18 (1995): 515-56.
  21. After divorce, a parent's life is reorganized, with parental concerns no longer of central importance, or possibly, with feelings of concern for the parent's own children replaced by pressing feelings of obligation for a new partner's children. "Parenting Together and Parenting Apart,” a Council on Families in America Working Paper, Institute for American Values, New York City, May 1993: 31-32.
  22. Parenting cut loose from its moorings in the marital contract is often less stable, more volatile, and less protective of children. When that contract dissolves, the perceptions, feelings, and needs of parents and children for one another are transformed. It is not that parents love their children less or worry less about them, but they are fully engaged in rebuilding their own lives—economically, socially, and sexually. Parents' and children's needs are often out of sync for many years after the breakup of the family. Judith S. Wallerstein, Julia M. Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee. “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study.” (New York: Hyperion Press 2001): xxix.
  23. “A culture of divorce soothes children with antidepressants, consoles them with storybooks on divorce and watches over their lives from family court.” Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, “The Divorce Culture,” Vintage Books (New York: Random House, Inc., 1996): 181.
  24. Crime

  25. States with a lower percentage of single-parent families, on average, will have lower rates of juvenile crime. State-by-state analysis indicates that, in general, a ten-percent increase in the number of children living in single-parent homes (including divorces) accompanies a seventeen-percent increase in juvenile crime. Patrick F. Fagan, “The Real Root Causes of Violent Crime: The Breakdown of Marriage, Family, and Community,” The Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder #1026 March 17, 1995.
  26. Family structure is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, predictor of variations of urban violence across the United States . All else equal, in cities where family disruption is high, the rate of violence is also high. Robert J. Sampson, R. J.; (1995). Unemployment and imbalanced sex ratios: Race-specific consequences for family structure and crime. In: M. B. Tucker; C. Mitchell-Kernan (Eds.), The Decline in Marriage Among African-Americans. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
  27. A 2000 study of juvenile crime in rural areas revealed that broken homes were strongly associated with higher rates of arrest for violent crimes, while poverty was not directly associated with juvenile violence. D. Wayne Osgood and Jeff M. Chambers, “Social Disorganization Outside the Metropolis: An Analysis of Rural Youth Violence,” Criminology 38 (2000): 81-115.
  28. Married mothers and fathers, not policemen and jails, are the best deterrents to crime. An analysis of 50 separate studies of juvenile crime published in the journal Social Problems revealed that "the prevalence of delinquency in broken homes is 10-15 percent higher than in intact homes." In addition, there "are no appreciable differences in the impact of broken homes between girls and boys or between black youths and white youths.” Edward L. Wells and Joseph H. Rankin, "Families and Delinquency: A Meta-Analysis of the Impact of Broken Homes," Social Problems 38 (1991): 71-89.
  29. In 1998, a study of adolescents convicted of homicide in adult court found that at the time of the crimes 43 percent of their parents had never been married, 30 percent were divorced and nine percent were separated. Patrick J. Darby et al., “Analysis of 112 Juveniles Who Committed Homicide: Characteristics and a Closer Look at Family Abuse,” Journal of Family Violence 13 (1998): 365-374.
  30. Breakup of the parents' marriage during the first five years of life places a child at high risk of becoming a juvenile delinquent. This breakup -- through either divorce or separation -- is most likely to occur three to four years after marriage. Therefore, a large proportion of very young children experience the emotional pain of the early and final stages of marital dissolution at a time when they are most vulnerable to disruptions in their emotional attachment to their parents. David M. Fergusson, John Horwood and Michael T. Lynsky, “Parental Separation, Adolescent Psychopathology, and Problem Behaviors,” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 33 (1994). Patrick F. Fagan, “The Real Root Causes of Violent Crime: The Breakdown of Marriage, Family, and Community,” The Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder #1026 March 17, 1995.
  31. Children in single-parent families are more likely than peers in intact families to be exposed to risk factors for aggressive/violent influences, such as frequent changes in the resident father figure, difficulty in securing assistance, and difficulty in providing supervision for children. Robert F. Valois et al., “Risk Factors and Behaviors Associated With Adolescent Violence and Aggression,” American Journal of Health Behavior 26 (2002): 454-464.

  32. The empirical evidence shows that too many young men and women from broken families tend to have a much weaker sense of connection with their neighborhood and are prone to exploit its members to satisfy their unmet needs or desires. This contributes to a loss of a sense of community and to the disintegration of neighborhoods into social chaos and violent crime. Patrick F. Fagan, “The Real Root Causes of Violent Crime: The Breakdown of Marriage, Family, and Community,” The Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder #1026 March 17, 1995.
  33. Among married, two-parent families, whether white or black, the crime rate is very low. The capacity and determination to maintain stable married relationships, not race, is the pivotal factor. Chaotic, broken communities result from chaotic, broken families. Patrick F. Fagan, “The Real Root Causes of Violent Crime: The Breakdown of Marriage, Family, and Community,” The Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder #1026 March 17, 1995.
  34. Children growing up in divorced-mother households evinced a significantly elevated propensity to lie, to destroy property, and to associate with other children who got in trouble. Jeanne M. Hilton, and Ester L Devall “Comparison of Parenting and Children's Behavior in Single-Mother, Single-Father, and Intact Families" Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 29, 3/4 (1998): 23-50.
  35. 3A study of fourth-grade urban boys found that those living in a step-family or with a single mother at age 10 were more than twice as likely to be arrested by age 14 than were those living with both biological parents. Chris Coughlin and Samuel Vuchinich, “Family Experience in Preadolescence and the Development of Male Delinquency,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 58 (May 1996): 491-501.
  36. The rate of youth arrests for violent crimes quadrupled between 1965 and 1994, from 58 to 231 per 100,000 persons under age 18. Violent crimes, as defined by the FBI, include murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Uniform Crime Reporting Program, Federal Bureau of Investigation. 1993. Age-Specific Arrest Rates and Race-Specific Arrest Rates for Selected Offenses, 1965-1992. U.S. Department of Justice. Special analysis of 1993 and 1994 data by Program Support Section, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  37. Comparing two groups of young black males, one group was significantly more likely to be sent to jail. Both groups lived in public housing, were on welfare, and had similar life experiences. The only difference was the law-abiding males had both parents present in the home. M. Anne Hill and June O'Neill, Underclass Behaviors in the United States: Measurements and Analysis of Determinants (New York: City University of New York, Baruch College 1993): 90). This data confirms the words of U.S. Attorney General William Barr: "If you look at the one factor that most closely correlates with crime, it's not poverty, it's not employment, it's not education. It's the absence of the father in the family.” Wade Horn, Father Facts, The National Fatherhood Initiative (1995): 2. www.fatherhood.org
  38. Sexual Activity

  39. Family structure was strongly associated with adolescent risk of sexual activity, taking into consideration ethnicity, sex, and socioeconomic status. Youths living with one parent had significantly higher rates of first sex than those living with both biological parents. Youths living in step-families also had elevated rates of first sex. Dawn M. Upchurch et al., “Gender and Ethnic Differences in the Timing of First Sexual Intercourse" Family Planning Perspectives . 30, 3 (May-June 1998): 121-127. Scott H. Beck, Bettie S. Cole, and Judith A. Hammond , "Religious Heritage and Premarital Sex: Evidence from a National Sample of Young Adults" Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. 30, 2 (1991): 173-180.
  40. Children of divorced parents were more likely to have engaged in premarital sex at an early age and to cohabit than were children of married parents, according to an 11-year national study. Sexual permissiveness on the part of the divorced parent significantly increases permissive attitudes and behavior in both sons and daughters. Frank Furstenberg, Jr. and Julien Teitler, "Reconsidering the Effects of Marital Disruption: What Happens to Children of Divorce in Early Adulthood?" Journal of Family Issues 15 (June 1994): 173-190.
  41. Children who experienced parental divorce were more likely to endorse premarital sex and to approve of cohabitation, to have negative attitudes toward marriage, and to prefer a smaller family size than were children with continuously married or widowed parents. This effect was even stronger for children whose divorced mothers re-married. William G. Axinn, and Arland Thornton "The Influence of Parents' Marital Dissolutions on Children's Attitudes Toward Family Formation " Demography 33, 1 (1996): 66-81.
  42. Male and female adolescents from broken families were more likely to have had sexual intercourse than were peers from intact families. Female adolescents from mother-only families are nearly twice as likely to report having had sexual intercourse as peers in intact families. Adolescent daughters living in father-only families were more than three times as likely to report having lost their virginity as peers from intact families. Boys living with just their father or with neither parent were more than twice as likely to report sexual experience. John S. Santelli, “The Association of Sexual Behaviors with Socioeconomic Status, family Structure and Race/Ethnicity among US Adolescents,” American Journal of Public Health 90 (2000): 1582-1587
  43. Risks of first premarital sexual experience are 77 percent higher for boys living in step-families and 62 percent higher for boys in single-parent or non-parent family structure than for boys living with two biological parents. For girls living in step-families, the rate for first sex runs 56 percent higher, and for girls living in single-parent or non-parent households the rate is 53 percent higher. Kathleen Mullan Harris, Greg J. Duncan, and Johanne Boisjoly, “ Evaluating the Role of ‘Nothing to Lose' Attitudes of Risky Behavior in Adolescence,” Social Forces 80 (2002): 1005-1039.
  44. In a two-year prospective study of 2,102 young adolescents, only about 10 percent of young teens who are living with both of their parents have ever had sex, compared to 20 percent of those living with a step-family, 23 percent of those living with a single mother, and 27 percent living with single father. Robert L Fllewelling and Karl E. Bauman “Family Structure as a Predictor of Initial Substance Use and Sexual Intercourse in Early Adolescence, ” Journal of Marriage and Family 52 (1990): 171-81.
  45. Adolescent females between the ages of 15 and 19 years reared in homes without fathers are significantly more likely to engage in premarital sex than adolescent females reared in homes with both a mother and a father. John O Billy, Karin L. Brewster and William R. Grady. "Contextual Effects on the Sexual Behavior of Adolescent Women." Journal of Marriage and Family 56(1994): 381-404.
  46. “ Girls from paternally deprived homes are more likely to become exposed to the pheromones of stepfathers and other unrelated adults males,” which accelerates their physical development. This acceleration is associated with poorer health, emotional problems such as depression and anxiety, problem behaviors such as alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity. Bruce J. Ellis and Judy Garber, “Psychosocial Antecedents of Variation in Girls' Pubertal Timing: Maternal Depress, Stepfather Presence, and Family Stress,” Child Development 71 (2000): 485-503. Bruce J. Ellis, et al., “Quality of Early Family Relationships and Individual Differences in the Timing of Pubertal Maturation in Girls: A Longitudinal Test of an Evolutionary Model,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 77 (1999): 387-401.
  47. Teens that are raised by both parents from birth have lower probabilities of having sex than teens who grew up in any other family situation . Kristen A. Moore et al., A Statistical Portrait of Adolescent Sex, Contraception, and Childbearing, National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (March 1998): i
  48. Substance Abuse

  49. A 1998 national study on drug abuse found that adolescents age 12-17 who live with their biological parents are the least likely to use illicit drugs. Adolescents who lived with their father only or with their father and step-mother are the most likely to use marijuana or other illicit drugs. John P. Hoffmann and Robert A. ohnson, “A National Portrait of Family Structure and Adolescent Drug Use,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 60 (August 1998): 633-645.
  50. Adverse childhood experiences (physical/emotional neglect, domestic violence or parental separation/divorce) show a strong statistical relationship to illicit drug use. Teens whose parents have split are one-and-a-half times more likely to use illicit drugs by age 14 as are peers from intact families and are more than two-thirds more likely to use illicit drugs at any time during their life. Shanta R. Dube et al., “Childhood Abuse, Neglect and Household Dysfunction and the Risk of Illicit Drug Use: The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study,” Pediatrics 111, [2003): 564-572.
  51. Twenty-five percent of children of divorce used drugs and alcohol before age 14 compared with 9 percent of the comparison group. Judith Wallerstein, Julia M. Lewis and Sandra Blakeslee, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study (New York : Hyperion, September 2000).
  52. Children growing up in single-parent households are at a significantly increased risk for drug abuse as teenagers. Rhonda E. Denton and Charlene M. Kampfe, "The Relationship Between Family Variables and Adolescent Substance Abuse: A literature Review." Adolescence 114 (1994): 475-495.
  53. Adolescents living in single-parent and step-parent households yield a three-way association with adolescent marijuana use. First, "a parental divorce or living with a step-parent decreases family attachment;” second, "attenuated family attachment and involvement increase the likelihood of associating with drug-using peers;" and third, "less family involvement and increased associations with drug-using peers increase the probability of initiating marijuana use and elevate frequency of use. ” John P. Hoffman, “The Effects of Family Structure and Family Relations on Adolescent Marijuana Use,” The International Journal of the Addictions 30 (1995): 1207-1241.
  54. Adolescents from divorced backgrounds are almost twice as likely to use cocaine as are children raised in intact married families. The rate of cocaine use among adolescents raised by never-married mothers is even higher. Robert Rector, Kirk Johnson, America Peterson, “The Positive Effects of Marriage: A Book of Charts” The Heritage Foundation (April 2002): 36. Taken from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health Wave II, 1996. www.heritage.org/Research/Features/Marriage/index.cfm. Youth who come from divorced backgrounds broken homes are twice as likely to report using cocaine and marijuana than those youth who come from intact families National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, Wave I, 1995.
  55. Children who live apart from their fathers are 4.3 times more likely to smoke cigarettes as teenagers than children growing up with their fathers in the home. Warren R. Stanton Tian P.S. Oci and Phil A. Silva, "Sociodemographic Characteristics of Adolescent Smokers." The International Journal of the Addictions 7 (1994): 913-925.
  56. A protective effect was demonstrated for youth who resided with both parents: These youths, both male and female, had very conservative mean-expectation scores for using alcohol and engaging in sex. Graham F. Watts Sr., and Stephen Nagy, “Sociodemographic Factors, Attitudes, and Expectations Toward Adolescent Coitus" American Journal of Health Behavior 24 (2000): 309-317.
  57. Education

  58. Children from single-mother homes produced by parental divorce are less likely than those from two-biological-parent families to complete high school, attend college, or graduate from college. They hold occupations that are, on average, significantly lower in status, and they have a significantly lower level of general psychological well-being. Timothy J. Biblarz and Greg Gottainer, “Family Structure and Children's Success: A Comparison of Widowed and Divorced Single-Mother Families,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 62 (2000): 533-548.
  59. Living in a father-absent home is a major contributing factor to school dropout rates. Suet-Ling Pong and Dong-Beom Jr., ” The Effects of Change in Family Structure and Income on Dropping Out of Middle or High School,” Journal of Family Issues 21 (March 2000): 147-169. Ralph B. McNeal, Jr., “Extracurricular Activities and High School Dropouts,” Sociology of Education 68 (1995): 62-81.
  60. Twenty-nine percent of children from divorced families received consistent support for higher education from their fathers, compared with 88 percent of the children from intact families. Judith Wallerstein, Julia M. Lewis and Sandra Blakeslee, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study (New York: Hyperion, September 2000).
  61. In studies involving more than 25,000 children, those who lived with only one parent had lower grade-point averages, lower college aspirations, poor attendance records, and higher dropout rates than students who lived with both parents. Adolescents who have lived apart from one of their parents during some period of childhood are twice as likely to drop out of high school, twice as likely to have a child before age 20, and one-and-a half times as likely to be 'idle'-- out of school or out of work -- in their late teens and early 20's. Sara McLanahan, Sara and Gary Sandefur, Growing up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps (Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1994).
  62. Adolescent students who experienced multiple parenting transitions (divorce, re-marriage) earned lower grades and lower achievement scores, while exhibiting more disruptive behavior than students who experienced no parenting transitions. They also reported having less parental supervision and a higher level of family conflict. This "rather robust" statistical gap persisted even after taking into account all other family and peer variables such as race, family climate, and peer norms. Lawrence A. Kurdek, Mark A. Fine, and Ronald J. Sinclair "School Adjustment in Sixth Graders: Parenting Transitions, Family Climate, and Peer Norm Effects," Child Development . 66 (1995): 430-445.
  63. Children who live with their biological parents have fewer behavior problems and experience better general adjustment in school than children who lived with divorced parents or with a mother who had re-married. Children in intact families achieve higher grades and engage in fewer problem behaviors than peers in single-parent or step-families. Cheryl Buehler and Kay Pasley “ Family Boundary Ambiguity, Marital Status, and Child Adjustment,” Journal of Early Adolescence 20 (2000): 281-308
  64. Parental re-marriage following divorce had a negative impact on the academic achievement of teenage children. Compared to peers with divorced parents who lived in single-parent households, step-children scored significantly lower on standardized tests, with notable deficiencies in math and social studies. William Jeynes "A Longitudinal Analysis on the Effects of Remarriage Following Divorce on the Academic Achievement of Adolescents," Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 33 (2000).
  65. A study found that children living with their married biological parents were less likely than children in single-parent families or step-families to repeat a grade or to be expelled from school. Deborah A. Dawson, “Family Structure and Child Well-Being: Economic Resources vs. Parental Behaviors,” Social Forces 73 (September 1994): 221-242.
  66. Divorce leaves custodial parents both psychologically and economically vulnerable, compromising the quality of parenting in ways that foster child misconduct. The researchers acknowledge that children fare better in married, nuclear families. Jeanne H. Hilton and Stephen Desrochers, “ Children's Behavior Problems in Single-Parent and Married-Parent Families: Development of a Predictive Model,” Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 37 (2003): 13-34.
  67. Mental and physical Health Outcomes

  68. Children who had experienced a parental separation were significantly more likely to experience health problems than were children in intact families. Even when the mother subsequently re-married, the correlation between households with marital disruption and the emergence of health problems among children remained significant. Jane Mauldon, "The Effect of Marital Disruption on Children's Health" Demography 27, 3. (August, 1990): 431-446 . Judith A. Seltzer, “Relationships Between Fathers and Children Who Live Apart: The Father's Role After Separation,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 53 (February 1991): 79-101.
  69. Children who come from single-parent families have more than twice the emotional and behavioral problems compared with children in two-parent families. For instance, children in single-parent homes are more likely to be in the lower half of their class and have significantly more developmental and behavioral problems. Children in two-parent families experience just half the developmental delay that children in single-parent families face. The Heritage Foundation analysis from Nicholas Zill, National Health Interview Survey Child Health Supplement, 1981. However, the supplement is no longer produced see Robert Rector, Kirk Johnson, America Peterson, The Positive Effects of Marriage: A Book of Charts, The Heritage Foundation (April 2002): 33. www.heritage.org/Research/Features/Marriage/index.cfm
  70. Children in single-parent families, born to unmarried mothers, living in stepfamilies or cohabiting relationships face higher risks of poor outcomes. Compared with children from traditional families, children from nontraditional families showed more psychological problems, as rated by their parents, and more internalizing behavior, as rated by their teachers. Boys from nontraditional families were especially at a disadvantage; they showed lower self-concept, more externalizing, poorer classroom behavior, and lower grade-point averages. Phyllis Bronstein, JoAnn Clauson, Miriam Frankel Stoll, and Craig L. Abrams "Parenting Behavior and Children's Social, Psychological and Academic Adjustment in Diverse Family Structure," Family Relations 42 (1993): 268-276.
  71. The majority of babies who live alternately with their divorced parents develop long-lasting psychological problems. After divorce, the presumption of 50-50 shared parenting arrangements is a “dangerous idea.” Infants who had access to their non-residential parent, but no overnight visits, had normal attachments. Jennifer McIntosh, “enduring Conflict in Parental Separation: Pathways of Impact on Child Development,” Journal of Family Studies 9, 1(April 2003): 63-80.
  72. Vulnerability to eating disorders runs twice as high among young women with unmarried parents as it does among peers with married parents. Miguel Angel Marinez-Gonzalez, et al., “Parental Factors, Mass Media Influences, Influences, and the Onset of Eating Disorders in a Prospective Population-Based Cohort,” Pediatrics 111 (2003): 315-320.
  73. Clinical manifestations of the effects of divorce on children include irritability, separation anxiety, sleep problems, and regression in toilet training for children under three. Tantrums, poor school performance, combativeness, and hyper-aggressiveness are common conduct problems for older children. American Academy of Pediatrics, 1983 policy statement.
  74. Young adults of divorced parents reported significantly more distress in their childhoods than did those with married parents. They were more than three times more likely to report having “harder childhoods than most people" and tended to wish their father had spent more time with them. One in three of this group said they wondered if their fathers really loved them, a rate three times higher than that of students with married parents. Lisa Laumann- Billings and Robert E. Emery, "Distress Among Young Adults from Divorced Families," Journal of Family Psychology 14, 4 (December, 2000): 671-687.
  75. Children who were rejected by their peers were more likely than other children to have experienced parental divorce. Angela K . Baker, Kimberly J. Barthelemy, and Lawrence A. Kurdek, "The Relation Between Fifth and Sixth Graders' Peer-Related Classroom Social Status and Their Perception of Family and Neighborhood Factors," Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 14 (1994): 547-556.
  76. A child living with a custodial parent of the opposite sex is especially prone to problem behavior. Given the make-up of most single-parent families, this applies mainly to boys living with their mothers. David Popenoe, Life Without Father: Compelling New Evidence that Fatherhood and Marriage are Indispensable for the Good of Children and Society (Harvard University Press: Cambridge Massachusetts ): 62.
  77. Children who have experienced parental divorce or separation are more likely to have health problems than are children raised in intact families. Judith A. Seltzer, “Relationships Between Fathers and Children Who Live Apart: The Father's Role After Separation,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 53 (February 1991): 79-101.
  78. A 1991 study of 17,110 children found that, when compared to children in single-parent families or step-families, children living with their married biological parents were less likely to suffer from asthma, to show elevated scores on health vulnerability examinations, or to have emotional and behavioral problems. Deborah A. Dawson, “Family Structure and Children's Health and Well-Being: Data from the 1988 National Health Interview Survey on Child Health,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 53 (August 1991): 573-584, as cited in “The Family Portrait,” Family Research Council, Washington, D.C., 2002.
  79. The percentage of adult children of divorce with serious psychological problems is double that of adult children of intact families. E. Mavis Hetherington, “For Better or for Worse: Divorce Reconsidered,” quoted in Washington Post, “Study finds families function after parents say ‘I don't',” Susan Levine, February 2002.
  80. Higher levels of anxiety among children and adolescents in the 1990s, compared to the 1950s, were related to changes in the divorce rate, the birth rate, and the crime rate. As divorce and crime rates climbed, as birth rates dropped, and as increasing numbers of Americans began to live alone, anxiety levels among children skyrocketed. Jean M. Twenge, "The Age of Anxiety? Birth Cohort Change in Anxiety and Neuroticism, 1952-1953," 79 (2000): 1007-1021.
  81. A 2001 study based on national data found that divorces in high-conflict marriages have a neutral or beneficial effect on child. Children from low-conflict families who experience parental divorce, however, suffer significant adverse effects on their psychological and social well-being. Alan Booth and Paul R. Amato, “Parental Predivorce Relations and Offspring Postdivorce Well-Being,” Journal of Marriage and Family 63 (February 2001): 197-212, as cited in “The Family Portrait,” Family Research Council, Washington, D.C., 2002.
  82. A 15-year study found that less than one-third of divorces occur in high-conflict (e.g., abusive, violent) marriages; most occur in low-conflict, but unhappy marriages. Twenty-eight percent of parents who divorced during the study reported any sort of spousal physical abuse prior to divorce, 30 percent reported more than two serious quarrels in the last month, and 23 percent reported that they disagreed “often” or “very often” with their spouses. Thus it appears only a minority of divorces involve high-conflict marriages. Paul Amato and Alan Booth, A Generation at Risk: Growing Up in an Era of Family Upheaval (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997): 220, as cited in “The Family Portrait,” Family Research Council, Washington, D.C., 2002.
  83. If divorce occurs before children reach age five, they are more likely in their formative years to experience increased aggression, loss of self-confidence, loneliness, experiment with early sexual activity, engage in substance abuse/dependence, exhibit hostile behavior, and deal with depression. David M. Fergusson, John Horwood and Michael T. Lynsky, “Parental Separation, Adolescent Psychopathology, and Problem Behaviors,” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 33 (1994): 1122-31.
  84. When divorce occurs in the lives of six-to eight-year-old children, a large portion of these children will experience persistent feelings of sadness and a need for constant reassurance about their performance in many of life's tasks. This anxiety continues to appear in their later lives. Judith S. Wallerstein, “Children of Divorce: Report of a 10-Year Follow-up of Early-Latency-Age Children,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 57 (1987): 199-211.
  85. Depression and Suicide

  86. Major population-based study from Sweden concludes that children living in one-parent homes have more than double the risk of psychiatric disease such as severe depression or schizophrenia, suicide or attempted suicide, and alcohol-related disease. Girls were three times more likely to have drug problems and boys four times more likely, compared to children living in two-parent homes. These findings remained after the scholars controlled for a wide range of demographic and socioeconomic variables. Because Sweden has a comprehensive system that eliminates the economic and material consequences of growing up in one-parent homes, these problems cannot be attributed to poverty (An eight-year study of a million Swedish children, ages 6-18, tracking them into their mid-20”s).Gunilla Ringback Weitoft et al., “Mortality, Severe Morbidity, and Injury in Children Living with Single Parents in Sweden : A Population-Based Study,” The Lancet 361 (January 2003): 289-295. http://www.forumdafamilia.com/arquivo/mortality-single-parents.pdf
  87. A 10-year longitudinal study done by the National Surveys of Children found that divorce was associated with a higher incidence of severe mental health problems in children ages 7-16 — including depression, withdrawing from friends and family, aggressiveness, impulsiveness, or hyperactive behavior; and either withdrawing from participation in the classroom or becoming disruptive. David H. Demo and Alan C. Acock, “The Impact of Divorce on Children,” Journal of Marriage and Family Therapy 50, 3 (1988): 619-648. Patrick F. Fagan and Robert Rector, “The Effects of Divorce on America ,” The Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder #1373 (June 5, 2000): 8.
  88. In a survey of 272 high school students, family cohesion and marital status were the strongest protective factors against suicidal behavior, with students from intact families as the least likely to be suicidal and those in re-married families the most likely to be suicidal. Thirty-eight percent of teens in step-families reported suicidal behavior, compared to 20 percent of teens from single-parent homes, and just nine percent of teens from intact families. Judith Rubenstein “Suicidal Behavior in Adolescent: Stress and Protection in Different Family Cotents,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 68 (1998): 274-84.
  89. The most frequent background characteristic among adolescents who commit suicide is the divorce of their parents. Patricia L. McCall and Kenneth C. Land, “Trends in White Male Adolescent, Young-Adult, and Elderly Suicide: Are There Common Underlying Structural Factors?” Social Science Research 23 (1994): 57-81. A 1988 study of teen suicides in California found that in 52 percent of the cases investigated, the decedent's parents were divorced or separated. Franklyn L. Nelson, “Youth Suicide in California : A Study of Perceived Causes and Interventions” Community Mental Health 24 (1998): 31-42.
  90. The link between the rise in adolescent suicide and parental divorce in the past three decades can be found again and again in research literature, including cross-cultural studies in Japan and Holland . E. Spruijt and M. De Goede, “Transition in Family Structure and Adolescent Well-Being” Adolescence 32 (1997): 897-911. Patrick F. Fagan and Robert Rector, The Effects of Divorce on America , The Heritage Foundation Backgrounder #1373, June 5, 2000 : 16.
  91. In her extensive research on children of divorce, Judith Wallerstein has found that following divorce, children experience feelings of rejection, loneliness, anger, guilt, anxiety, fear of abandonment by their parents, and a deep yearning for the absent parent. Five years after their parents' divorce, 37 percent of the children Wallerstein studied were moderately or severely depressed. Judith Wallerstein and Joan B. Kelley, Surviving the Breakup: How Children and Parents Cope with Divorce (New York: BasicBooks, 1996), pp. 46-50, 211, as cited in “The Family Portrait,” Family Research Council, Washington, D.C., 2002.
  92. There is a higher incidence of delinquency and depression among children whose parents have divorced. Research found that post-divorce conflict and reduced quality of parenting were associated with these problems. Ronald L. Simons et al., “Explaining the Higher Incidence of Adjustment Problems Among Children of Divorce Compared with Those in Two-Parent Families,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 61 (November 1999).
  93. Domestic Violence and Abuse

  94. The presence of a stepfather in a home doubles the risk for girls, not only for being abused by the stepfather, but also for being abused by other men prior to the arrival of the stepfather in the home. Frank W. Putman, “Ten-Year Research Update Review: Child Sexual Abuse,” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 42 (2003): 269-278.
  95. Children living with both parents have a much lower risk of being physically neglected or abused than children in single-parent homes. The rate of neglect of children living with single parents was more than twice that of children living with both parents, and the rate of abuse was 35 percent higher for children in single-parent homes. Andrea J. Sedlak and Diane D. Broadhurst, The National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. (1996): xviii, 5-19.
  96. According to a Canadian study, children in step-families are 40 times as likely to suffer physical or sexual abuse as children in intact families. Martin Daly and Margo Wilson, Homicide (Hawthorne, N.Y.: Aldine de Gruyter, 1988): 89.
  97. Serious abuse is much higher among step-children than among children of intact families, and adults who have been sexually abused as children are more likely to have been raised in step-families than in intact married families. David M. Fergusson, Michael T. Lynskey and L. John Horwood “Childhood Sexual Abuse and Psychiatric Disorders in Young Adulthood: Prevalence of Sexual Abuse and Factors Associated with Sexual Abuse.” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 34 (1996): 1355-1364.
  98. Children two years of age and younger are 70 to 100 times more likely to be killed at the hands of their step-parents than by their biological parents--younger children being more vulnerable because of their size. Margo Wilson and Martin Daly, “The Risk of Maltreatment of Children Living with Stepparents” in Richard J. Gelles and Jane B. Lancaster eds., Child Abuse and Neglect: Biosocial Dimensions, Foundations of Human Behavior (New York: Aldine de Gruyter 1987): 215-232.
  99. An analysis of child abuse cases in a nationally-represented sample of 42 countries found that children from single-parent families are more likely to be victims of physical and sexual abuse than children who live with both biological parents. Compared to their peers living with both parents, children living in single-parent homes faced:
    • 77 percent greater risk of being physically abused;
    • 87 percent greater risk of being harmed by physical neglect;
    • 165 percent greater risk of experiencing notable physical neglect;
    • 74 percent greater risk of suffering from emotional neglect;
    • 80 percent greater risk of suffering from serious injury as a result of abuse;
    • Overall, 120 percent greater risk of being endangered by some type of child abuse.
    Andrea Sedlak and Diane Broadhurst , The Third National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect: Final Report , U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect, Washington D.C. (September 1996).
  100. A San Francisco study using a random sample of 930 adult women found that the chances of a daughter being abused by her step-father are at least seven times higher than by her biological father. Approximately one out of every six women who had a step-father as a principal figure in her childhood years was sexually abused by him, compared to one out of every 40 women raised by a biological father. Furthermore, 46 percent of the cases of sex abuse by step-fathers were classified as “very serious,” versus only 26 percent of cases by the biological fathers. Diane E. H. Russell, “The Prevalence and Seriousness of Incestuous Abuse: Stepfathers vs. Biological Fathers,” Child Abuse and Neglect 8 (1984): 15-22.
  101. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that nearly half of all family violence is committed by boyfriends, girlfriends, or ex-spouses; only 25 percent is attributed to spouses. Bureau of Justice Statistics Highlights from 20 Years of Surveying Crime Victims: The National Crime Victimization Survey, 1973-92, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington , D.C. (September 1993): 25.
  102. A 2000 Department of Justice report showed that married and widowed women had the lowest rates of violent abuse by an intimate. Divorced and cohabiting women had the highest rates of violent abuse by their ex-spouse, or boyfriend, followed by never-married women. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence, National Crime Victimization Survey, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. (May 2000): 4-5, 11.
  103. An analysis of The National Crime Victimization Survey (U.S. Department of Justice) finds that violent behavior among men is strongly linked to marital status. For example, from 1979-1987, about 57,000 women per year were violently assaulted by their husbands. But 200,000 women per year were assaulted by their boyfriends and 216,000 by the ex-husbands. Of all the violent crimes against women committed by intimates during this period, about 65 percent were committed by either boyfriends or ex-husbands, compared with 9 percent by husbands. Carolyn Wolf Harlow, Female Victims of Violent Crime , U.S. Department of Justice, Washington D.C. (1991): 1-2.
  104. Standard of Living

  105. According to data from the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finance, compared with the poverty rate of the always-intact married family, a widowed family experiences a poverty rate that is 3.9 times higher; the cohabitating-couple's household's poverty is 3.7 times higher; the rate of divorced single-parent families is 4.2 times higher; and the rate for always-single-parent families is 7.7 times higher. Patrick F. Fagan and Robert Rector, “The Effects of Divorce on America ” The Heritage Foundation Backgrounder #1373 ( June 5, 2000 ): 14.
  106. In 2000, two in five children in families headed by single women (39.7 percent) were poor, compared to only 8.1 percent of children in married families. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Historical Poverty Tables, Washington D.C. (2002). http://www.census.gov/hhes/poverty/histpov/hstpov10.html . These changes in family structure have caused a great deal, perhaps all, of the increases in child poverty between the early 1970s and the 1990s. Robert I . Lerman, “The Impact of Changing U.S. Family Structure on Child Poverty and Income Inequality,” Economic a 63, 250 S (1996): S119-39. Isabel Sawhill, “ Families at Risk,” Setting national priorities: The 2000 election and beyon d, edited by H. Aaron and R.D. Reischauer, (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press 1999): 97-136.
  107. Divorce places a significant and disproportionate financial strain on women and children. Data drawn from the Survey of Income and Program Participation found that 16-18 months after a couple separates, 42.5 percent of custodial mothers not yet receiving child support lived in poverty, while 35.4 percent of those receiving child support lived in poverty. Among non-custodial fathers, only 10.6 percent lived in poverty, regardless of whether or not they were or were not yet paying child support. Judi Bartfield, “Child Support and Postdivorce Economic Well-being of Fathers, Mothers, and Children,” Demography 37, 2 (May 2000): 203-213.
  108. Men from divorced-family backgrounds are more likely to have a lower occupational standing than their fathers, even after income effects are taken into account. “The experience of family disruption during childhood substantially increases men's odds of ending up in the lowest occupational stratum as opposed to the highest.” Timothy J. Biblarz and Adrian E. Raftery, “The Effects of Family Disruption on Social Mobility,” American Sociological Review 58 ( February 1993): 97. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, “The Divorce Culture,” Vintage Books ( New York: Random House 1996).
  109. “Individuals who are not continuously married have significantly lower wealth than those who remain married throughout the life course.” Unmarried adults experience a 63 percent reduction in total wealth relative to those who are married. Breaking out the groups by type, the researchers found that 77 percent of those who were separated experienced reduction in wealth, followed by 75 percent of those never married, 73 percent of those divorced, 58 percent of those cohabiting, and 48 percent of those widowed. Janet Wilmoth and Gregor Koso, “Does Marital History Matter? Marital Status and Wealth Outcomes Among Preretirement Adults,” Journal of Marriage and Family 64 (2002): 254-268.
  110. Researchers reason that marriage fosters the accumulation of wealth because “it provides institutionalized protection, which generates economies of scale, task specialization, and access to work-related fringe benefits, which lead to rewards like broader social networks, and higher savings rates.” The current high divorce rates could lead to “serious implications for aging individuals, their families, and public policies for retirement saving incentives and income maintenance programs.” Janet Wilmoth and Gregor Koso, “Does Marital History Matter? Marital Status and Wealth Outcomes Among Preretirement Adults,” Journal of Marriage and Family 64 (2002): 254-268.
  111. Married couples and their families have much higher incomes and greater assets than do single adults or single-parent households. Linda J. Waite, The Ties That Bind: Perspectives on Marriage and Cohabitation ( New York : Aldine de Gruyter, 2000): 385-386.
  112. Mothers and children in families that were not poor before separation suffered an average decline in income after divorce of 50 percent. Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, Growing up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps, (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994): 24.
  113. Figures from 1993 indicate that the poverty rate for children living with divorced mothers was 39 percent, compared with 11 percent for children in two-parent families. Nicholas Zill and Christine Winquist Nord, Running in Place: How American Families Are Faring in a Changing Economy and an Individualistic Society (Washington D.C.: Child Trends, 1994): 15-17.
  114. By conservative estimates, a woman's standard of living after divorce drops 27 percent. Divorced, single-parent families are four times more likely to be poor than intact ones. Janice Shaw Crouse and Heide Trask Wood, “ Divorce: The Pain That Doesn't Go Away,” Family Voice (July/August 2001).
  115. Like women, most men who divorced did not experience gains in their living standards. Among the majority who lost economic status when their marriages dissolved, some experienced modest and manageable losses while a "substantial minority" saw their standard of living slip. Patricia A. McManus and Thomas A. DiPrete, "Losers and Winners: The Financial Consequences of Separation and Divorce for Men," American Sociological Review 66 (2001): 246-268.
  116. Contrary to claims that divorce impoverishes women but enriches men, divorce was found to render negative economic consequences on both men and women. White women experience an income loss of between 12 and 30 percent (or an average of 22 percent) following divorce, while the income loss among white divorced men ranges between 8 and 13 percent (or an average of 10 percent). Atlee L. Stroup and Gene E. Pollock, "Economic Consequences of Marital Dissolution, "Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 22 (1994): 37-54.
  117. According to Garfinkel and McLanahan"families headed by women with children are the poorest of all major demographic groups regardless of how poverty is measured." The vast majority of these families remain poor for long periods because they have very low education levels and low earning capacity. They lack sufficient child support from absent fathers and receive low levels of public aid. I. Garfinkel and S. McLanahan, Single mothers and their children: A new American dilemma? (Washington D.C.: Urban Institute Press,1986).
  118. During years that children lived with two parents their family incomes averaged $43, 600, and when the same children lived with one parent their family incomes averaged $25,300. In other words, the household income of a child's family dropped on an average of 42 percent following a divorce. Mary E. Corcoran and Ajay Chaudry, “The Dynamics of Childhood Poverty,” Future of Children 7, 2 (1997): 40-54. Patrick F. Fagan and Robert Rector, The Effects of Divorce on America , The Heritage Foundation Backgrounder #1373 ( June 5, 2000 ): 11. http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/BG1373.cfm
  119. Almost 75 percent of American children living in single-parent families will experience poverty before they reach age 11. Only 20 percent of children in two-parent families will do the same. Just the Facts: A Summary of Recent information on America 's Children and their Families, National Commission on Children, Washington, D.C. , 1993.
  120. Compared with children living in families above the poverty line, children living below the poverty line are more likely to have difficulty in school, 1 to become teen parents, 2 and, as adults, to earn less and be unemployed more frequently. 1. G. Duncan and J. Brooks-Gunn, Consequences of Growing Up Poor (New York, NY: Russell Sage Press 1997):. 2. C. An, R. Haveman, and B. Wolfe, “Teen Out-of-Wedlock Births and Welfare Receipt: The Role of Childhood Events and Economic Circumstances,” Review of Economics and Statistics, 75 , 2 (1993): 195-208.
  121. One in five children in the United States today is born into poverty. About 40 percent of all poor Americans are children. Much of this problem is the result of teen pregnancy, single-parent homes, and family breakdown. Steven Bayme, Jean Bethke Elshtain, and David Blankenhorn, eds ., Rebuilding the Nest: A New Commitment to the American Family. Family Service America, Milwaukee, Wis. (1990): vi.
  122. Exposure to single motherhood at some point during adolescence increases the risk [of a daughter's later becoming a household head] by nearly 1 1/2 times for whites and by about 100 percent for blacks. The figures show that a daughter living in a single-parent household at any time during adolescence is far more likely (127 percent more likely among whites, 164 percent among blacks) to receive welfare benefits as an adult, compared to daughters from two-parent households. Sara S. McLanahan, "Family Structure and Dependency: Reality Transitions to Female Household Head ship, "Demography 25 (February 1988): 1-16.
  123. Adult children of divorce are less likely to help their aging fathers than adults who grew up in intact families. Teresa M. Cooney and Peter Uhlenberg, “The Role of Divorce in Men's Relations with Their Adult Children After Mid-Life,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 52 (August 1990): 685-86.
  124. General Health of Adults

  125. Marriage was associated with better health across all major health domains and across all types of conditions within health domains. Of the non-married groups, divorcees had the worst overall health profiles. Divorce had even more deleterious health consequences for women than for men. Amy Mehraban Pienta, Mark D. Hayward, and Kristi Rahrig Jenkins, "Health Consequences of Marriage for the Retirement Years," Journal of Family Issues 21, 5 (July 2000): 559-586.
  126. Researchers in Finland have uncovered evidence implicating “stressful life events” in breast carcinogenesis. The 5 major life events studied included death of husband, divorce/separation, personal illness or injury, loss of job, death of a family member or friend. In statistical tests using multivariable models, it was divorce/separation that stood out as the stressful life event most likely to predict breast cancer. Kirsi Lillberg et al., “Stressful Life Events and Risk of Breast Cancer in 10,808 Women: A Cohort Study, ” American Journal of Epidemiology 157 (2003): 415-423.
  127. Having more children is associated with better comparative health for women. However, women with step-children in their homes have significantly worse physical and mental health than women without step-children. Being re-married, in contrast with a first marriage, is not beneficial for women's health. Beth Rushing and Annette Schwabe, "The Health Effects of Work and Family Characteristics: Gender and Race Comparisons," Sex Roles 33 (1995): 59-205.
  128. Addicts were significantly more likely than non-addicts to come from a broken home (57 percent versus 20 percent) with an absent father (45 percent vs. 15 percent). They were also more likely to be separated or divorced themselves. Louis A. Cancellaro, David B. Larson, and William P. Wilson "Religious Life of Narcotic Addicts" Southern Medical Journal 75, 10 (October, 1982): 1166-1168.
  129. Morality rates for recently divorced men, relative to married men, were sharply elevated in ways difficult to explain in terms of "established risk factors." Recently divorced men had higher "all-cause mortality" rates, although the effect appeared to be stronger in younger than in older men. Among the recently divorced, younger men showed a significant increase in cardiovascular disease mortality that was not apparent in older men. Even after full adjustment for "lifestyle characteristics," pre-existing disease, biological factors, and employment status, recently divorced men had significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality than did married men, largely because of an excess of cardiovascular disease and other non-cardiovascular diseases. Shah Ebrahim et al., "Marital Status, Change in Marital Status, and Mortality in Middle-Aged British Men" American Journal of Epidemiology 142 (1995): 834-842.
  130. Divorced people suffer from significantly more health problems than do married people, even when taking into account differences in "age, sex, educational level, degree of urbanization, religion, and country of birth." The divorced are significantly more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses, more likely to voice "subjective health complaints," and more likely to claim work disability benefits and to report poor general health. The never-married reported health conditions that were between that of the married and the divorced. Although they were more likely to claim work disability benefits than the married, the widowed "do not differ significantly from the married in their perceived general health and subjective health complaints." (Study of approximately 1,000 Dutch adults between the ages of 15 and 74) I. M. A. Joung, “Differences in Self-Reported Morbidity by Marital Status and by Living Arrangements," International Journal of Epidemiology 23 (1994): 91-97.
  131. Unmarried individuals have higher rates of mortality than do married people—about 50 percent higher for women and 250 percent higher for men. Married people have better physical health and psychological well-being than divorced, separated, never-married, or widowed people. Catherine E. Ross et al., “The impact of the Family on Health: The Decade in Review,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 52 (November 1990): 1059-1078.
  132. A 1995 study determined that experiencing parental divorce before age 21 “is associated with a 44 percent increase in mortality risk,” which shortens the life of the average white male or female by an average of 4.5 years. Joseph E. Schwartz et al., “Sociodemographic and Psychosocial Factors in Childhood as Predictors of Adult Mortality,” American Journal of Public Health (1995): 1237-1245.
  133. Men who remain married are able to handle the stress of the workplace much better than men who divorce. Researchers suggest that divorce may have a negative effect on the mental health of divorced men because of the “reduced sense of purpose and identity” and “altered relationships with children and community.” Karen A. Matthews and Brooks B. Gump, “Chronic Work Stress and Marital Dissolution Increase Risk of Posttrial Mortality in Men From the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial,” Archives of Internal Medicine 162 (2002): 309-315.
  134. Adult Depression and Suicide

  135. A 33-year study revealed that children who experienced a parental divorce in their childhood or adolescence were likely to experience emotional problems such as depression or anxiety well into their twenties or early thirties. Andrew J. Cherlin et al., “Effects of Parental Divorce on Mental Health Throughout the Life Course,” American Sociological Review 63 (April 1998): 239-249; as cited in “The Family Portrait,” Family Research Council, Washington, D.C., 2002.
  136. Marriage is associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms in both Japan and in the United States. This study underscores the importance of spousal presence in mitigating the expression of depressive symptoms even in a vertical society such as Japan. Hidehiro Sugisawa et al., “The Impact of Social Ties on Depressive Symptoms in U.S. and Japanese Elderly,” Journal of Social Issues 58 (2002): 785-804.
  137. Those who marry experience a decrease in symptoms of depression, while those who separate from, or divorce, their spouse experience an increase in depression. Robin W. Simon and Kristen Marcussen, “Marital Transitions, Marital Beliefs, and Mental Health,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 40 (1999): 111-125.
  138. Five years after divorce, more than a third of the children of divorce experience moderate or severe depression. Ten years later a significant number of now-grown young men and women appear to be troubled, drifting, and underachieving. Fifteen years later, these adults struggle to establish secure love relationships of their own. Contrary to what we have long thought, the major impact of divorce does not occur during childhood or adolescence. Rather, it rises in adulthood as serious romantic relationships move center stage. When it comes time to choose a life mate and build a new family, the effects of divorce crescendo. Judith Wallerstein, Julia M. Lewis and Sandra Blakeslee, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study (New York : Hyperion, September 2000).
  139. Tenty-five percent of children of divorce used drugs and alcohol before age 14 compared with 9 percent of the comparison group. Judith Wallerstein, Julia M. Lewis and Sandra Blakeslee, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study (New York : Hyperion, September 2000).
  140. A 1998 study of research done in 17 nations found that married men and women report significantly higher levels of happiness than do unmarried people. Steven Stack and Ross Eshleman, “Marital Status and Happiness: A 17-Nation Study” Journal of Marriage and the Family 60 (May 1998): 527-530.
  141. Divorced women, compared to married women, experience more frequent and serious depression. Frederick O. Lorenz et al., “Married and Recently Divorced Mothers' Stressful Events and Distress: Tracing Change Across Time,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 59 (February 1997): 219-232.
  142. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Chicago found that the adult children of divorced parents experience mental health problems significantly more often than do the adult children of intact families. Andrew J. Cherlin, P. Lindsay Chase-Landsdale and Christine McRae, “Effects of Parental Divorce on Mental Health Throughout the Life Course,“ American Sociological Review 63 (April 1998): 245-46.
  143. Using a sample of 9,643 respondents from the National Survey of Households, it was found that the transition from marriage to separation or divorce was associated with an increase in depression, a decline in happiness, less personal mastery, less positive relations with others, and less self-acceptance. These associations were stronger for women than for men. Becoming married, on the other hand, was associated with a “considerable well-being boost” evident in both men and women. Nadine F. Marks and James D. Lambert, “Marital Status Continuity and Change Among Young and Midlife Adults: Longitudinal Effects on Psychological Well-Being,” Journal of Family Issues 19 (1998): 652-86.
  144. In a literature review by Dr. Robert H. Coombs, Professor of Behavioral Sciences at UCLA, it revealed, "empirical support extending back to the 19th century shows that the highest suicide rates occur among the divorced, the widowed, and the never-married and lowest among the married." The intact family creates a cohesive, integrating effect on its members, which serves as a strong deterrent to suicidal tendencies. Robert H. Coombs, "Marital Status and Personal Well-Being: A Literature Review," Family Relations 40 (1991): 97-102 specifically 97-98. Broken Hearts - family decline and the consequence for society is published today, Monday 11 February 2002, by the Centre for Policy Studies, 57 Tufton Street, London SWIP 3QL. Price £7.50.
  145. Those individuals who are either separated or divorced are two times more likely to attempt suicide than adults who are currently married . (National Comorbidity Survey of 5,877 respondents ages 15-54 which was conducted between 1990-1992). Ronald C. Kessler et al., “Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Lifetime Suicide Attempts in the National Comorbidity Survey. Archives of General Psychiatry 56 (1999):. 617-26. Patrick Fagan, Robert Rector, Kirk Johnson , America Peterson, “The Positive Effects of Marriage: A Book of Charts, “The Heritage Foundation (April 2002): 26
  146. Rising suicide rates in Quebec between 1961 and 1986 were associated with "a sharp decline in the rate of marriage, a rise in the average age of marriage, increased cohabitation outside of legal marriage, rising divorce propensities, a precipitous decline in fertility, and a significant rise in the labor force participation of women." A significant, positive relationship was found between the incidence of divorce and suicide among both men and women. Compared to average suicide rates between 1931 and 1956 (3.45 per 100,000 women; 10.9 per 100,000 men), average suicide rates doubled between 1961 and 1986 (9.72 per 100,000 women; 22.0 per 100,000 men). Catherien Krull and Frank Trovato “The Quiet Revolution and the Sex Differential in Quebec 's Suicide Rates: 1931-1986 " Social Forces 74 (1994): 1121-1147.
  147. “Not until the sixth year after a divorce are most family members emotionally and mentally back on their feet.” E. Mavis Hetherington, “For Better or for Worse: Divorce Reconsidered,” quoted in Washington Post, “Study finds families function after parents say ‘I don't',” Susan Levine, February 2002.
  148. Circle of Divorce

  149. A study that tracked two generations found that children of divorce are twice as likely to divorce as are the children of continuously married parents. Paul R. Amato and Danelle D. DeBoer, “The Transmission of Marital Instability Across Generations: Relationship Skills or Commitment to Marriage?” Journal of Marriage and Family 63 (November 2001): 1038-1051.
  150. Children whose parents divorce are especially likely to divorce themselves because they have lost “faith in marital permanence.” Data clearly implicates a loss of commitment to the ideal of marital permanence as the reason for the high divorce rates among the children of divorce. Mavis Hetherington, “For Better or for Worse: Divorce Reconsidered,” quoted in Washington Post, “Study finds families function after parents say ‘I don't',” Susan Levine, February 2002).
  151. Young white women raised in single-parent families are 53 percent more likely to marry as teenagers, 164 percent more likely to bear children out of wedlock themselves, and 111 percent more likely to have children as teen-agers than those raised in two-parent families. Moreover, if these women do marry, their marriages are 92 percent more likely to end in divorce. As the research shows, illegitimacy spawns illegitimacy at an alarming rate, thus guaranteeing the perpetuation of these social problems in future generations. Garfinkel, and S. S. McLanahan, “Single Mothers and Their Children: A New American Dilemma,” (Washington D.C.: The Urban Institute Press, 1986): 30-31.
  152. Research on divorce shows that not only does it permanently weaken the relationship between a child and his/her parents, but it also leads to destructive ways of handling conflict and poorer self-image. Children of divorce have a higher expectation of divorce, higher divorce rates later in life, and less desire to have children—which effects future family life and perpetuates the downward spiral of family breakdown. Patrick F. Fagan and Robert Rector, “The Effects of Divorce on America,” The Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder #1373 (June 5, 2000): 3.
  153. Adult children whose parents are divorced, are about 40 percent less likely than children whose parents remained married to say they see either their mother or father at least several times a week. When asked to rate their relationship with their parents, adult children raised by married parents describe their current relationship with both their mother and father more positively than do children raised in unwed or divorced families. Diane Lye, Daniel Klepinger, Patricia Davis Hyle and Anjanette Nelson. “Children Living Arrangements and Adult Children's Relations with the Parents,” Demography 32 (1995): 261-80.
  154. Researchers have found “strong and consistent effects of having experienced parental divorce in childhood on the likelihood of religious disaffiliation (apostasy) for all groups.” They note “parental divorce in childhood weakens religious ties through its disruption of both family and community.” Leora E. Lawton and Regina Burres, “Parental Divorce and the ‘Switching' of Religious Identity,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 40, 1(2001): 99-111
  155. .

    Causes of Divorce

  156. While rates of divorce have changed, the basic predictors of divorce have not changed. Between 1950 and 1984, divorce was especially likely among couples in which the wife's parents had divorced. It was less likely among couples in which the husband is well-educated. Other factors driving up divorce rates included premarital conception or childbirth and cohabitation. Cohabitation drove up the likelihood of divorce by about 35 percent among those who cohabited before marrying. Jay D. Teachman, "Stability Across Cohorts in Divorce Risk Factors," Demography 39 (2002): 331-351.
  157. The risk of marital disruption was highest among women with a young age at marriage, low education, a history of cohabitation, and among those whose spouse had been previously married. Larry L. Bumpass, Teresa Castro Martin, and James A .Sweet, “The Impact of Family Background and Early Marital Factors on Marital Disruption," Journal of Family Issues 12, 1 (March 1991): 22-42.
  158. Couples who raise step-children face a risk of divorce more than four times greater than couples without step-children. David R. Hall and John Z. Zhao, "Cohabitation and Divorce in Canada: Testing the Selectivity Hypothesis," Journal of Marriage and the Family 57 (1995): 421-427.
  159. Seventeen percent of marriages that are remarriages for both husband and wife and that involve stepchildren break up within three years. Lynn K. White and Alan Booth, "The Quality and Stability of Remarriages: The Role of Stepchildren," American Sociological Review 50, 5 (October 1985): 689 98.
  160. Adultery is one of the main reasons for divorce; according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, infidelity is one of the most commonly cited complaints in divorce cases. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, “Making Marriage Last,” www.aaml.org/Marriage_Last/MarriageLastText.htm, as cited in “The Family Portrait,” Family Research Council, Washington, D.C., 2002.
  161. Among recently divorced men and women, a substantial percentage had been romantically involved with someone other than their spouse prior to divorcing. A fourth or more-of marital disruptions are preceded by the infidelity of one or the other spouse while the marriage still existed. Scott J. South and Kim M. Lloyd, "Spousal Alternatives and Marital Dissolution,” American Sociological Review 60 (1995): 21-35.
  162. No-fault divorce laws brought about a 17-percent increase in state-level divorce rates between 1968 and 1988. Leora Friedburg, “Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data,” American Economic Review 88 (June 1998): 608-627.
  163. The enactment of no-fault divorce laws in the 50 states had a significant effect on the divorce rate. The divorce rate increased in all states except for Oklahoma, Nevada, Arkansas, Illinois, and Utah. Paul A. Nakonezny, Robert D. Shull, and Joseph Lee Rodgers, "The Effect of No-Fault Divorce Law on the Divorce Rate Across the 50 States and Its Relation to Income, Education, and Religiosity" Journal of Marriage and the Family 57, (May 1995): 477-488.
  164. The loss of commitment to the ideal of marital permanence was the reason for high divorce rates among the adult children of divorce. Paul R. Amato and Danelle D. DeBoer, "The Transmission of Marital Instability Across Generations: Relationship Skills or Commitment to Marriage?" Journal of Marriage and the Family 63 (2001): 1038-1051.
  165. Students who assigned greater importance to romantic love in marriage tended to come from countries with higher divorce rates, as the belief that the disappearance of love warrants dissolution of marriage significantly correlated with divorce rates of their respective countries. Robert Levine, Suguru Sato, Tsukasa Hashimato, and Jyoti Verma, "Love and Marriage in Eleven Cultures," Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 26, 5 (September 1995): 554-571.
  166. The largest federally funded study on divorced fathers found that women initiate two-thirds of divorces. Sanford L. Braver and Diane O'Connell, Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths (New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1998): 133
  167. .
  168. Four factors were associated with the doubling of the divorce rate between 1963 and 1974: A rise in women's wages, a rise in public assistance (which apply for upward divorce trends throughout several decades), the aging of the postwar baby boom cohorts, and the increased availability of contraceptives (which are more specifically applicable to the decade from 1963 to 1974). Robert T. Michael, “Why Did the U.S. Divorce Rate Double Within a Decade?" Research in Population Economics 6 (1988): 367-399.
  169. While female employment was generally associated with a higher risk of relationship dissolution--whether couples were married or cohabiting--women who worked in a family business or who work in their homes were no more likely to experience relationship dissolution than women who did not work. Specifically, female employment outside of a family setting weakened marriage. Karen Price Carver and Jay D. Teachman, "Female Employment and First Union Dissolution in Puerto Rico," Journal of Marriage and the Family 55 (1993): 686-698.
  170. Compared to traditional marriages with stay-at-home mothers who assumed the expressed role of homemaker, nontraditional marriages emphasizing "role-sharing and egalitarianism" were more likely to end in divorce. Alan Booth, and Paul R. Amato, "Parental Gender Role Nontraditionalism and Offspring Outcomes," Journal of Marriage and the Family 56, (1994): 865-87.
  171. Women who married as virgins had a far lower risk of divorce; women who were sexually active before marriage faced a considerably higher risk of marital disruption. These relationships remained constant even after considering differences in maternal education, parent's marital status, and other measures of family background. Joan R. Kahn, and Kathryn A. London, "Premarital Sex and the Risk of Divorce," Journal of Marriage and the Family 53 (November 1991): 845-855.
  172. A 15-year study found that less than one-third of divorces occur in high-conflict (e.g., abusive, violent) marriages; most occur in low-conflict, but unhappy marriages. Twenty-eight percent of parents who divorced during the study reported any sort of spousal physical abuse prior to divorce, 30 percent reported more than two serious quarrels in the last month, and 23 percent reported that they disagreed “often” or “very often” with their spouses. Thus it appears only a minority of divorces involve high-conflict marriages. Paul Amato and Alan Booth, A Generation at Risk: Growing Up in an Era of Family Upheaval (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997): 220.
  173. While the adult children of divorce reported lower levels of life satisfaction than their peers from intact families, the children of divorce appeared to be doing best in countries with lower divorce rates. Only in countries with low divorce rates (such as Spain and Japan) that being reared by a single, divorced parent was "preferable to being raised in a high-conflict marriage." In countries with high divorce rates (like the United States), "being raised by a single divorced parent was not preferable to being raised in a high-conflict marriage." (7,743 young adults in 39 countries on six continents) Carol L. Gohm et al., "Culture, Parental Conflict, Parental Marital Status, and the Subjective Well-Being of Young Adults," Journal of Marriage and the Family 60 (1998): 319-334.
  174. Church attendance was significantly correlated with a decreased probability of marital instability. Among couples attending church less than once a year, the divorce or separation rate was 34.5 percent; for those attending church once to several times a year, the rate was 26.7 percent; for those attending church monthly or more, the rate was 18.1 percent. In addition, couples that attended church frequently were 2.6 times as likely to have intact marriages, compared to couples that attended less than once a year. This attendance effect on marital stability was the same in 1977 as it was in 1972. Wesley Shrum, "Religion and Marital Instability: Change in the 1970s?" Review of Religious Research 21, 2 (1980): 135-147.
  175. Married couples who attend religious services on a weekly basis have a one-third lower divorce rate than those who do not. David B. Larson, James P. Sawyers and Susan S. Larson, “The Costly Consequences of Divorce: Assessing the Clinical, Economic and Public Health Impact of Marital Disruption in the U.S. ,” (Rockville, Maryland: National Institute for Healthcare Research 1995): 26.
  176. Public Perceptions of Divorce

  177. Ninety-two percent of people surveyed report that having a successful marriage is very important to them. Wirthlin Worldwide, August 1996, as cited in “The Family, Marriage: Highly Valued,” Public Perspective (February/March 1998): 17.
  178. In a nationally-represented survey of adults ages 20-29, 88 percent agreed that the divorce rate is too high and that the United States would be better off if there were fewer divorces. Barbary Defoe Whitehead and David Popenoe. “The State of our Unions 2001: The Social Health of Marriage in America .” Piscataway , N.J. : The National Marriage Project, 2001.
  179. In 1977, 55 percent of American teenagers thought a divorce should be harder to get; in 2001, 75 percent thought a divorce should be harder to get. Maggie Gallagher, “Children Need Mothers and Fathers ,” The Weekly Standard , Vol. 008, Issue 45, August 4, 2003.
  180. Seventy-eight percent of adults say it is always wrong for a married person to have sex with someone other than his or her spouse. General Social Survey, National Opinion Research Center , February 1- June 25, 2000.
  181. According to a 1999 poll, 78 percent of Americans see the high rate of divorce and the breakup of families as a serious problem. Hart and Teeter Research for NBC News, Wall Street Journal, June 16-19, 1999.
  182. In 2000, 33 percent agreed that parents should stay together for the sake of the children even if the marriage isn't working, compared to only 21 percent who said the same in 1981. Yankelovich Partners for Time, CNN, September 6-7, 2000 as cited in Walter Kirn, “Should You Stay Together for the Kids? Time, September 25, 2000 : 77.
  183. A survey taken in 1999 showed that 86 percent of people worldwide agreed that “[a]ll things being equal, it is better for children to be raised in a household that has a married mother and father.” Wirthlin Worldwide for The Howard Center and Brigham Young University, World Congress of Families II, November, 1999.
  184. More than 70 percent of Americans agree that it is always best for children to be raised in a home with a married man and woman as parents. Los Angeles Times poll, April 13-16, 1996 as cited in “Families: A Strong Yes to the ‘Traditional' Structure,” Public Perspective (February/March 1998): 20.

Where Do I Get More Information?

www.smartmarriages.com

www.marriagemovement.org

www.divorcereform.org

www.americanvalues.org

www.divorcebusting.com

Amato, Paul & Allan Booth, A Generation at Risk: Growing Up In an Era of Family Upheaval. ( Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1997).

Patrick F. Fagan, How Broken Families Rob Children of Their Chances for Future Prosperity, Backgrounder #1283, J une 11, 1999. http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/BG1283ES.cfm

Patrick F. Fagan and Robert Rector, The Effects of Divorce on America, The Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder #1373, June 5, 2000. www.heritage.org/Research/Family/BG1373.cfm

Robert Rector, Kirk Johnson , America Peterson, The Positive Effects of Marriage: A Book of Charts, The Heritage Foundation, April 2002: 36. (Taken from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health Wave II, 1996.) www.heritage.org/Research/Features/Marriage/index.cfm.

Patrick F. Fagan, Robert E. Rector, and Lauren R. Noyes, Why Congress Should Ignore Radical Feminist Opposition to Marriage, The Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder #1662, June 16, 2003 http://www.heritage.org/research/family/bg1662es.cfm

Maggie Gallagher and Linda Waite, The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healtheir and Better off Financially, (New York : Doubleday, October 2000).

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, When the Bough Breaks: The Cost of Neglecting Our Children (New York: Basic Books, Harper Collins Publishers, 1991).

Jill Kirby, Broken Hearts: Family Decline and the Consequences for Society, Center for Policy Studies, 57 Tufton Street, London SWIP 3 QL.

Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations, (New York: W. W. Norton and Co.; May 1991).

Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, Growing Up With A Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1994).

Diane Medved, The Case Against Divorce (New York: Donald I. Fine, Inc., 1989)

James Q. Wilson, The Marriage Problem: How Our Culture Weakened Families, (New York: Harper Collins, 2002)

Judith Wallerstein, Julia M. Lewis and Sandra Blakeslee, Second Chances: Men, Women and Children After Divorce, (New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1989).

Judith Wallerstein, Julia M. Lewis and Sandra Blakeslee, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25-year Landmark Study, ( New York : Hyperion, September 2000).

Lenore J. Weitzman, The Divorce Revolution, (New York: Free Press, 1985).

Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, The Divorce Culture, Vintage Books (New York: Random House, Inc., 1996).

Appendix

Robins and Regier found that the prevalence of suffering from any psychiatric disorder over a lifetime was significantly lower for those in a legal marriage:

Marital Status Lifetime Prevalence
Married, never divorced/separated 24 %
Single, never cohabitated 33 %
Divorced/Separated 44 %
Unmarried Cohabiting 52 %

Lee Robins and Darrel Regier, Psychiatric Disorders in America : The Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study (New York: Free Press, 1991): 334.

One random sample of more than 8,600 adults revealed the specific percentages of those who felt less lonely:

Marital Status % Lonely
Married 4.6 %
Never Married 14.5 %
Divorced 20.4 %
Widowed 20.6 %
Separated 29.6 %

Randy M. Page and Galen E. Cole, "Demographic Predictors of Self-Reported Loneliness in Adults," Psychological Reports 68 1991): 939-945. *The author's definition of loneliness is defined as the "absence of satisfying social relationships" as opposed to merely the close presence of other people.