Does divorce reduce children's exposure to family conflict?


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"Research seems to suggest that the marriage must be under intense and consistent conflict before it can be considered better for the children if the parents get a divorce."
Joseph Hopper, "The Rhetoric of Motives in Divorce," Journal of Marriage and the Family 55 (November 1993): 806. Cited on page101 ofThe Abolition of Marriage, by Maggie Gallagher

"Significantly more child behavioral problems are found in those families that have an unsatisfactory marriage than in those with a happy marriage, but the behavioral problems from the single-parent families are far worse than in unhappily married families."
"No-Fault Divorce: Proposed Solutions to a National Tragedy," 1993 Journal of Legal Studies 2, 22, citing Carolyn Webster-Stratton, The Relationship of Marital Support, Conflict, and Divorce to Parents' Perceptions, Behaviors, and Childhood Conduct Problems, 51 JOURNAL OF MARR. AND THE FAMILY417-430 (1989).

"Children from divorced families are caught in the middle of parental conflicts
significantly more often and experience more stress than children from intact homes. "
Kurkowski, K., Gordon, D.A., & Arbuthnot, J. (1993). Children caught in the
middle: A brief educational intervention for parents. Journal of Divorce and
Remarriage, 20, 139-151. Cited at http://www.divorce-education.com/

70 % of divorces end "low-conflict" marriages
"Wallerstein and others who stress the high cost of divorce raise hackles
among those committed to the view that children are better off when a
bad marriage ends. But a new study of family upheaval by sociologists
Paul Amato of the University of Nebraska and Alan Booth of Pennsylvania
State University underlines some important distinctions. According to
their research, reported in their 1997 book A Generation at Risk, the
worst situations for children are high-conflict marriages that last and
low-conflict marriages that end in divorce. And it turns out that most
divorces fall into the latter category: A whopping 70 percent of
divorces end "low-conflict" marriages. "For children's sake," Amato and
Booth conclude, "some marriages should not be salvaged. But in marriages
that are not fraught with severe conflict and abuse, future generations
would be well served if parents remained together until children are grown."
From "The Anti-Divorce Revolution" in the Weekly Standanrd, Dec. 1997, http://www.smartmarriages.com/weeklystandard.html

"Constance Ahrons's 1994 book The Good Divorce is a decidedly optimistic
account of middle-class divorced couples. Yet she found that just 12 percent
of divorced parents are able to create friendly, low-conflict relationships
after divorce. Fifty percent of middle-class divorced couples engage in
bitter, open conflict as "angry associates," or worse, "fiery foes." Five
years afterwards, most of these angry divorced [couples] remain mired in hostility.
Nearly a third of friendly divorces degenerate into open, angry conflict."
Gallagher in "End No-Fault Divorce?" (Maggie Gallagher debates Barbara Dafoe Whitehead) in First Things 75 (August/September 1997) Citing Constance Ahrons, The Good Divorce: Keeping Your Family Together When Your Marriage Comes Apart (Harper Collins Publications, 1994)

"These statistics are matched by what Judith Wallerstein found in her
(nonrandom) sample of mostly middle-class couples: Ten years after the
divorce, fully half the women were still very angry at their ex-spouse. "True,
some couples were no longer standing in the same kitchen screaming at one
another; they were screaming on the telephone instead," points out Wallerstein
in her 1989 book Second Chances."
Gallagher in "End No-Fault Divorce?" (Maggie Gallagher debates Barbara Dafoe Whitehead) in First Things 75 (August/September 1997)

"Here is a question few have bothered to ask: Does divorce lead to less conflict? One reason very few inquiring minds wanted to know the answer is that the assumption that divorce ends marital conflict is built into the very language of social science. "Marital conflict" is a label that implies its own solution: To put an end to marital conflict, you only have to put an end to the marriage. But of course what really bothers the children is not that two spouses are fighting, but that their parents are fighting. Yet divorce advocates frequently compare angry marriages to low-conflict divorces on the magical assumption that a piece of paper called a divorce will put an end to parental fighting. In other words, they compare an exaggerated vision of bad marriage with the phantom virtues of the ideal divorce."
Page102 ofThe Abolition of Marriage, by Maggie Gallagher

"Divorce often causes a bitter dispute between the parents, even worse than before the divorce was decided upon. Two-thirds of angry divorces remain that way after 5 years of being separated, and one-quarter to one-third of those divorces that were initially in good spirits had degenerated to open conflicts."
Wallerstein and Blakeslee, Second Chances. Cited on page103 ofThe Abolition of Marriage, by Maggie Gallagher

"The more one learns about the crime of domestic violence, the less likely
it seems that the formal mechanisms of divorce law have much influence one way
or another in helping women escape their batterers. For one thing, most
batterers are not husbands. A 1991 Justice Department survey, for example,
found that more than two-thirds of domestic violence offenders were boyfriends
or ex-spouses, while just 9 percent were spouses. Cohabitating women,
according to one review of the literature, are four times more likely to
suffer severe violence than married women."
Gallagher in "End No-Fault Divorce?" (Maggie Gallagher debates Barbara Dafoe Whitehead) in First Things 75 (August/September 1997)

"A third of friendly divorces turn into bitter disputes, often sparked by the remarriage of one or both of the ex-partners."
Constance Ahrons, The Good Divorce: Keeping Your Family Together When Your Marriage Comes Apart (Harper Collins Publications, 1994), 52-59. Cited on page103 ofThe Abolition of Marriage, by Maggie Gallagher

"A study conducted at the University of Washington divided 117 households into three categories: "maritally distressed", "maritally supported", and "unmarried mothers," and found that children of the families that had marital distress had significantly higher disciplinary problems than children from families that reported a happy marriage, but those children of unmarried mothers had a considerably higher amount of disciplinary problems that those who were from the other two categories."
Carolyn Webster Stratton, "Marital Support," 417-430. Cited on page106 ofThe Abolition of Marriage, by Maggie Gallagher

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