Wealthier Children Hit Harder By Divorce, Study Suggests

divorce, children, Illinois Family Law AttorneyDivorce can be extremely difficult on everyone involved, even those who are not directly impacted by the end of a marriage, such as extended family members and friends. It comes as little surprise to most people, therefore, that children of divorcing parents are often particularly affected by the changing situation. Research, however, is beginning to suggest that children from different income and lifestyle groups may experience varying degrees of impact.

A study was conducted last year by researchers from Georgetown University and the University of Chicago to examine the affects of divorce on the behavior of children across various income levels. The team published its findings in the journal Child Development and determined that children of wealthier parents had more difficulty in adapting to a post-divorce situation, leading to more behavioral issues than lower-income children.

The team looked at information collected from nearly 4,000 children in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and classified them into three income groups. They then looked at the effects on each group related to a change in family structure. “Our findings suggest that family changes affect children’s behavior in high-income families more than children’s behavior in lower-income families—for better or for worse,” said lead author Rebecca Ryan, assistant professor of psychology at Georgetown. However, the findings do not provide clear indications of why this may be true.

Dr. Ryan did, though, offer some speculation on the reasoning. She suggested that for many higher-income families, the father and primary earner often leave the home in a divorce, causing significant strain on the household budget. This often results in the family moving to a new neighborhood or school, which can be particularly stressful on children. She also offered the thought that lower-income families may be more used to larger changes overall. “Parental separation is more common among lower-income families,” she said, which may reduce social stigma among peers and related stresses.

The study’s findings also suggested that most of the noticeable behavior changes occurred in children 5 years old and under. In addition, wealthier children who were eventually blended into new stepfamily situations showed significant behavior improvements. Dr. Ryan believed that such indications were signs that stability was a larger factor than money for higher-income children.

If you are considering divorce, it is important to understand how the process can affect your children, regardless of your income level. Contact an experienced family law attorney in Rolling Meadows today for a consultation. Our qualified team is ready to help you take the next step in improving your family situation for you and your children.

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