Family History Predictive of Children’s Divorce

The Family Law Professor Blog and report on an Australian study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family that shows that children of divorced parents “had twice the risk of going through a divorce themselves.”

The study found that family history was more predictive of divorce than genetics.

The research did not completely eliminate all genetic factors, however. According to D'Onofrio, about 66 percent of the increased risk for divorce appears to stem from the simple fact of a person's parents having been divorced. The remaining 34 percent of the risk seemed to be tied to genetic factors, as well as other factors affecting parents and children. . .

The study is unique, the researcher said, because it is based on data from more than 2,300 twins, their spouses and their adult offspring. In other words, many of the younger people in the study are actually cousins who are also "genetically half-siblings," because their aunt or uncle shares their parents' genes.

So, to help separate out the effects of genetics from family environment, the Australian team compared the marital success of cousins who grew up in stable families (no divorce) against cousins who came from families split by divorce.

I suppose that if children are exposed to the notion that marriage is not forever, they may be more accepting of the idea of terminating the martial relationship  through divorce when conflict arises. This would seem to be consistent with the notion that second or third marriages also have a lower probability of success.

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