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Divorced parents must work harder for children to get advanced degrees

According to a new study in the Journal of Family Studies, the children of parents who divorce are less likely to get baccalaureate or professional degrees than children whose parents are married. This is bad news for the 1.5 million kids whose parents divorce each year. It is also bad news for the U.S. economy, which increasingly needs employees with at least a college degree.

The study's authors found the differences to surprisingly dramatic

While 26.9 percent of children of divorce parents achieved at least a bachelor's degree, the number jumps to 49.6 percent for children of continuously married parents. It goes on to add that 12.2 percent of children of divorce were or currently enrolled in a graduate or professional degree program, as opposed to 19.6 percent of the children of continuously married parents.

Why the difference in the numbers?

The authors of the study listed a few potential reasons for the difference. These include:

  • Married parents in the survey had higher education goals for their children.
  • Children of divorced parents have lower GPAs, lower reading and math scores and are less engaged in learning.
  • Children of divorced parents are less likely to participate in extracurricular activities and thus are less socially engaged.

Parents can still make a difference

It's commonplace for spouses who divorce to say that kids are the priority. A thoughtful and effective parenting plan can help ensure that both parents remain deeply involved in the lives of the kids. Financial arrangements made during divorce negotiations to help pay tuition regardless of the children's age can also help set a tone of academic achievement later on.  A divorcing spouse may wish to discuss different legal options affecting the child(ren) with an experienced Board-certified Family Law expert attorney.

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