"It is not divorce in itself that can lead to problems in children. It is the divorce linked to interparental conflict, a lack of co-parenting, an unsuitable family climate, etc.," said Priscila Comino, a researcher at the University of the Basque Country's (UPV/EHU) Faculty of Psychology.
Comino has gathered data on 416 children between the ages of 4 and 18 to study and compare the behaviour of the offspring of divorced parents (214) with that of the offspring of married parents (202).
The results show that there is no reason why the problems of a child of divorced parents should go beyond those that a child of married parents could have, as long as the parents have adapted positively to their new situation.
The study involves a series of questionnaires filled in by the parents, so the children are kept on the sidelines.
"They were asked to provide details of a socio-demographic type. Then the divorced parents were given the questionnaire dealing with the adaptation to divorce or separation, and both the divorced and married parents were given the test relating to the children," explained Comino.
According to the results obtained in the thesis, there are however differences in the average psychological well-being of the offspring of divorced and married parents, being more favourable in the case of the latter.
But despite that, the children of divorced parents mostly emerge as well-adjusted emotionally.
The results further indicted that divorce is in fact only a problem when it is associated with other risk factors, like: interparental conflict, inadequate co-parenting, changes in the child's daily routines or psychological problems of the parents themselves.
"If the parents have adapted positively to the divorce (this adaptation being understood as the encouraging of a positive context, an adequate co-parenting relationship and fewer problems of the parents themselves), the offspring are not going to have any more behavioural problems than those of the offspring of married parents," said Comino.
"The confirmation of this relationship between the parents' adaptation and the adjustment of the offspring is essential with a view to working with the parents and achieving benefits, in them themselves and in their offspring," she concluded.