Using divorce mediation could protect children’s health

On behalf of Gary Kirk of Kirk Montoute Dawson LLP posted in Divorce Mediation on Wednesday, May 31, 2017.

Divorce or separation takes an emotional toll on everyone involved, including the splitting couple and their children. A recent study indicates that an especially contentious divorce may also have a negative impact on children’s health. It may be that divorce mediation can offer divorcing parents in Alberta a chance to mitigate the effects.

Scientists in Spain conducted a study that looked at the health of 467 children between the ages of two and 18 years. Some of the children’s parents were still together, while others’ were divorced. The purpose was to see if there were any connections between exposure to divorce and any health issues.

Researchers found that children whose parents were no longer together were twice as likely to develop health issues than children of intact families. Dermatological, neurological, genitourinary or gastrointestinal conditions, were more prevalent in this group. Other conditions, such as cardiovascular and hearing or sight-related issues, did not seem to be affected by exposure to divorce.

The prevailing theory among the study’s authors is that it’s not the divorce itself that correlates with health issues, but the way it’s handled by the parents. Exposure to conflict, violence and a lack of co-parenting can create toxic stress in children and potentially cause mental and physical health problems. A 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics study partially supports this theory, finding that adversity coupled with a lack of supportive relationships may have a negative impact on a child’s health.

If parents decide a divorce or separation is their only option, it is important to proceed with the best interests of their children in mind. How separated parents choose to treat one another will have a significant impact on their children. Choosing a non-confrontational path to divorce, such as divorce mediation, may help in achieving the goal of sparing the children’s health. A lawyer who is skilled with Alberta family law and mediation can help separated parents make this goal a reality.

Source:, “Parents’ Divorce Increases Risk of Health Disorders in Children”, May 24, 2017

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