Children of divorced parents are far more damaged by the arguments during the marriage than the split itself, a study suggests.
They are 30 percent more likely to have behaviour issues than those with married parents – because of the fights they see at home, University of York researchers say.
Previous studies have discovered a negative relationship between parental divorce and child skills, the research said. Children of divorcees are more likely to have difficulty with peers, drop out of school, be unsuccessful in work and experience emotional problems, it noted.
However, in most cases, this correlation is entirely explained by "pre-divorce characteristics" of the family, indicating a "marginal role" of divorce itself in determining the gap.
The study found around 50 percent of a gap in non-academic skills is explained by parental conflicts and 35 percent by financial problems.
The research, which is based on data from the Millennium Cohort Study of 19 000 children, said: "Interparental conflicts may be even more harmful to child development than parental divorce itself."