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Children over 7 most affected by divorce, study shows

It is hardly news to Colorado parents that divorce is hard on children. Now some new research sheds some new light on the effect of divorce on a child's academic performance and behavior. The research should be of interest to those involved in a child custody dispute or seeking to work out a parenting plan following a divorce.

The study was funded by the British government and published by the Department of Education in the U.K. Researchers studied thousands of children and looked at the effect on them of a variety of factors in their lives, including stressful events like the death of a family member or divorce. The researchers looked at the effects of these events on the children's behavior and emotional health, as well as on how the kids performed on two standardized tests given at the ages of 14 and 16.

The results showed that a parental divorce was associated with lower test scores and increased behavior problems, which is not surprising. What is interesting is that the effect was more serious in children over the age of seven. Interestingly, divorce had a less noticeable impact on younger children. This may indicate that children under seven are less able to understand the full meaning of what is happening.

When parents divorce, they need to do everything they can to help their children deal with the experience. Recognizing this, Colorado courts put the best interests of the child - not of the parents - first in resolving a custody dispute. Parents can lessen the negative impact on their children by putting aside, when dealing with custody issues, the differences that led them to divorce, and making a serious effort to work cooperatively in resolving custody and visitation issues.

Source: Daily Mail, "Divorce after a child turns seven makes them more likely to perform badly at school," Laura Clark, Jan. 30, 2013

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