In today's world divorce is now commonplace. In the not so distant past, reasons both cultural and economic prevented many couples from taking this step, even in unhappy relationships. Up until 1996 divorce was illegal in Ireland, making Ireland one of the last developed countries to take this step. Up until around this time the Irish constitution was very closely linked to the teachings of the Roman Catholic church which viewed divorce as a sin (Dillon, 1993). In fact the constitutional amendment allowing for divorce was passed in a national referendum by only the slimmest of margins, 50.28% for, 49.72% against. Even in 1996 it could be clearly seen that divorce was a new concept for Ireland. In the present day this is no longer the case with Irelands divorce rate jumping to 27% of marriages. (Central Statistics Office, 2006). This has inevitably led to the separation of parents with young children, and oftentimes these children have been caught in the crossfire of the divorce. In this essay I will explore the different opinions on the effects of divorce on children, the effects that it can have on their development and how parenting techniques have evolved so as to help children develop under circumstances of divorce.
While the divorce rate in Ireland is large it is nothing compared to that of the US. There it is approximated that 40% of children born to married couples that experience their parent's divorce (Santrock, 2010). This rate has been this high since the 1970's. This could be attributed to the relative freedom of media in the US as opposed to Ireland at the time, which in the 1970's as mentioned earlier was still very much influenced by the Catholic Church. (Dillon, 1993). As a result of this most long term studies on the effects of divorce on children originate from the US. One such study performed between 1976 and 1987 examined whether children suffered negative effects as a result of their parents' divorce (Zill, Morrision & Coiro, 1993).