According to a study done by Temple University researcher Adam Davey, Ph.D., the impact of marital disruptions like divorce, remarriage etc can foretell whether a child would provide more involved care to parents in the future or not.
The changes caused by a divorce that took place 30 years ago can have long lasting effects on the mind of the child, claimed Davey.
In particular, divorce predicted that an adult child would be less involved in the day-to-day aid for the aging parents, in future.
"It's not the divorce itself that affects the quality of the parent-child relationship, but it's what happens afterwards such as geographical separation," said Davey, a gerontologist who studies trends in the baby boomer generation and other aging issues.
Davey scrutinised data from 2,087 parents, aged 50and above, who gave reports on their 7,019 adult children in the National Survey of Family and Households.
"Marital transitions affect families in a number of ways," Davey said.
"They can interrupt the relationship of support between a parent and child, and the evidence suggests that the continuity of support by parents and to parents matters," he added.
The study also reported that early marital commotion in a child's life can be less detrimental to the relationship, than those which occurred in adulthood.
The results suggest that both the type of changeover and the time of its occurrence in the child's life are important.
A father's early remarriage makes it more likely that the child will provide help later in life, but the same transition occurs when the child has reached adulthood the chances of a child helping the father become less.
Also, if the child spends more time with the divorced mother, the chances of providing assistance to the mother when she is old, are more, Davey said.
Astonishingly, it was found that both mothers and fathers are only half as likely to get support from a non-biological child.
"Society does not yet have a clear set of expectations for step-children's responsibility," Davey said.
Contradictory to the findings, this does not mean these potential effects damage the parent-child relationship as a whole, Davey said.
While marital transition doesn't seem to cause irretrievable damages to the support that children provide to parents in later life, it does disrupt the needs and resources of both generations.
"Given how common marital transitions have become, and how complex families have become as a result, it's surprising that the effects aren't even more pronounced." Davey added.
The findings have appeared in Advances in Life Course Research.