No matter how you slice it, divorce is hard on children. Children are harmed by a sense of helplessness, lack of predictability, parental conflict, poor parenting and poverty.

It’s important to understand that parental conflict and unpredictability lead to poor parenting and perpetuate feelings of helplessness in children. Likewise, chronic conflict lends itself to protracted and ongoing litigation causing children significant emotional distress.

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The good news, however, is that you have the power to approach your divorce in a way that reduces conflict; you can choose to collaborate with each other instead of competing against each other. By exposing children to less conflict, they will suffer less and recover far more easily. It’s interesting to note that children are often better off with divorced parents who get along and put their children’s needs and interests first, than with parents who remain in bad marriages and expose them to chronic parental conflict.

Research conducted in recent years demonstrates that when parents choose cooperation over conflict, the negative effects of divorce on children are less severe than previously thought. In fact, researchers view chronic parental conflict, more than the divorce itself, as the most defining factor influencing how a child adjusts after divorce.


About Mark Baer & Jeremy Kossen

Mark BaerMark Baer is a lawyer, mediator and conflict resolution consultant. He has decades of experience in family law and has crafted a reputation within the industry for his psychologically-minded and child-centered approach.

Mark is also a well-known writer and columnist for a number of publications on the interplay between psychology and conflict resolution within the field of family law, as well as familial and interpersonal relationships in general. He has had a regular “Psychology and Family Law” column in the San Gabriel Valley Psychological Association’s award-winning bimonthly newsletter since 2008. A member of Psychology Today’s expert community, Mark also has a blog column titled “Empathy and Relationships: Fostering Genuine Open-Mindedness.” He is also a HuffPost Blogger and a number of those blog articles have been referenced in books, law review articles, by evidence-based public policy think tanks, and elsewhere. Mark has written extensively for a number of other publications, as well. His material has been used and shared by law school professors, and by some of the highest ranked dispute resolution organizations in the country, such as the Straus Institute of Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law and the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program at Harvard Law School.

He has also presented on several occasions at the California Psychological Association Convention, the American Bar Association Section of Family Law CLE Conference, and the Southern California Mediation Association Conference, among other such organizations.