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New study: children's fatal illness does not raise divorce rate

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

As El Paso residents can imagine, when children are diagnosed with a terminal illness, the parents may experience a devastating emotional strain. However, readers in Texas may be interested to hear that, according to a new study, a child's terminal illness does not necessarily increase the parents' risk of divorce.

For years it has been believed that a child being diagnosed with cancer or another severe illness was linked to divorce. But according to a new study in which 47,000 married couples with children participated, that isn't necessarily the case. Some 2,450 children who had been diagnosed with cancer over a span of 17 years were matched against some 44,853 children who did not have cancer. The data can thus be broken down to 18 cancer-free children per one child diagnosed with cancer.

The study focused on Danish families, and researchers found that parents with ill children were not more likely to divorce than parents with healthy children.

Of course, these findings don't suggest in any way that parents of children with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses do not get divorced, as that situation certainly happens. In addition, this study does not conclude that parents will not have relationship problems after the tragic diagnosis of a child. But while the focus of the study was the divorce rate in Denmark, the authors indicated that the findings could generally be applied to other countries as well.

Nevertheless, it is also true that emotional and financial stress in general can take their toll on a marriage. Texans who are considering divorce for any reason will want to be aware of their rights and responsibilities under Texas family law.

Source: MSNBC, "Child's cancer does not boost parents' divorce risk: study," April 10, 2012

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