Parents of first born girls are significantly more likely to divorce than parents of first born sons. The probability that a first marriage with a first born daughter will end in divorce is 2.2% higher than for a first marriage producing a first born son.
I read this surprising fact in a very interesting paper produced by two academics at the University of California, Gordon Dahl and Enrico Moretti entitled “The Demand for Sons”.
They find that fathers with first born daughters are less likely to be living with that child than if they have a first born son: 3.1% less likely to be precise.
What are the three reasons they cite for this? 1. mothers carrying female children are less likely to be married and are less likely to arrange a “shotgun” wedding if they discover they are carrying a female child; 2. divorce rates increase with first born girls; 3. fathers are less likely to be awarded contact with a female child than a male one.
These factors are all based on US data, but they nevertheless give us food for thought.
After reading this paper I had a look at the Office for National Statistics website to determine if the UK analyses data on the basis of female or male children. The figures show us that for 2011, of the 117,588 divorces, 57,219 divorces involved children under the age of 16. The total number of under 16 children involved in those divorces was 100,760. The gender of the children of the family is included on the divorce petition when drafted and submitted to the court in England and Wales but an analysis of gender is not included in the ONS breakdown.
The code of practice of Resolution requires members to encourage clients to put the interests of their children first, and keep financial and children issues separate during negotiations. When dealing with children, the Law Society protocol provides that at the first meeting with a client, when discussing children, practitioners should:
-emphasise the need for parents to accept parental responsibility for
-promote the child’s welfare as the paramount consideration;
-encourage separation of addressing the children’s needs from those of
-encourage the use of mediation and other methods of dispute resolution;
-provide information about local support/guidance services;
-provide information about parenting apart.
If the parents of each of those 100,760 children received this advice during their discussions with their advisor then the legal community will have played its part in supporting that family’s transition to co-parenting in separate households and being co-parented by separated parents.
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