Study Reveals Long-term Psychological Problems of Children of Divorce

Wed Oct 22, 2003 - 12:15 pm EST

WASHINGTON, October 22, 2003 ( - A new study in the Journal of Family Studies shows that the majority of babies who alternate living with their divorced parents develop long-lasting psychological problems.

Jennifer McIntosh, a clinical psychologist and family therapist, says alternating between divorced parents causes “disorganised attachment” in 60% of children under 18 months. In the long term, these children grow up to have “alarming levels of emotional insecurity and poor ability to regulate strong emotion” as teens and adults.  A federal parliamentary inquiry into child custody is looking at the merits of 50-50 arrangements, something the doctor called a “dangerous idea.” She told the inquiry: “Shared parenting in the absence of a parental relationship that can support the necessary co-operation is fraught for children, particularly pre-schoolers. Equally, shared residence, that often manifests in week-about arrangements, runs counter to the developmental needs for a secure predictable existence with their primary attachment figure, be that father or mother.”  For local coverage:

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