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Families with a disabled child don't face increased divorce risk

There are many different things that can impact your chances of getting a divorce. Certainly, many couples who never have children divorce, but a new study has found that your risk for divorce increases the more children you have — if those children are healthy. In what would seem to be an unintuitive finding, parents who have at least one developmentally disabled child do not face an increased risk of divorce as they add to their families.

One proposed reason for this difference is that the healthy children in a family with at least one developmentally disabled child may be more likely to help with the daily running of the household and even some of the care of the disabled child. The researchers in this study posit that this takes some of the burden off of the parents and acts as a built-in support system. In these families, each additional healthy child would theoretically add to that support system instead of adding to the parents' responsibilities.

In contrast to previous research on this subject, this study focused on families where the children were in high school, which may also account of the higher level of responsibility for the children. The study also focused on those with developmental disabilities only, and there was very little ethnic diversity among the participants. Additional studies will be needed to see if these patterns hold true in a wider variety of circumstances.

Going through a divorce is a very difficult process in and of itself, but when one or more of the children has some type of disability, it can make things even more complicated. In these situations, it's important to have an attorney who can help you come to a divorce settlement that addresses the best interests and special needs of the child.

Source: PsychCentral, "No Increase in Divorce for Big Families With Disabled Child," Traci Pedersen, Oct. 31, 2015

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