Ministry of Justice: Children outcomes after parental separation

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The report by London School of Economics and commissioned by the MOJ analysed the UK Millennium Cohort Study, a study of around 19,000 children who were born in the UK between September 2000 and January 2002 and who at 9 months old, were living with both parents and were successfully followed until they reached age 11.

The aim of this study was to provide evidence for the lasting effects on the children of divorcees or cohabitees that separate.

The key findings are summarised in the report as:

The frequency and quality of contact between the child and the non-resident parent:

  • declined with time since separation;
  • was higher for children whose parents were previously married;
  • was higher in families with higher socio-economic status; and
  • was higher among families who did not report court involvement (for contact or financial arrangements) during the separation process.
  • Court involvement for financial arrangements appeared to be used more by more affluent families than less affluent families, while the reverse was true for court involvement for contact arrangements. The MCS study did not, however, collect information about whether court was used when the resident parent reported no contact or financial support from the non-resident parent.
  • Consistent with the existing evidence base, children of continuously married parents tended to have the best outcomes at age 11, followed by children of parents who were cohabiting at the time of birth and remained together. Children of separated parents showed the worst outcomes.
  • Among children of separated parents, the results suggest that more contact with the non-resident parent was associated with better outcomes for children at age 11.


Read the full report in PDF file format – Child outcomes after parental separation

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