Single Most Damaging Factor for Children: Exposure to Conflict

Newly separated and divorced parents struggle through the emotional, psychological and financial stress of a divorce. This is is even more so punctuated for those individuals who are engaged in high conflict divorce. Often times, one or both of the parents are high conflict personalities who are unable to extricate themselves from the flighting with their ex-partner to the extent that the children get caught in the cross fires. Parents spend much time and money arguing over extracurricular activities, section 7 expenses, school events, transfers etc at the detriment of their children. 

It is a known and well researched fact that it is the conflict between the parents that bodes so negatively on the children.

The children are left to carry the burden of seeing their parents fight and argue. The parents are often times engaged in a cycle of arguing that goes unabated. Often times, parents externalize the blame to the other parent or to other professionals involved, who are assisting them and complain that it is the other person who is to blame for all the strife. 

In Gordon v. Goertz, 1996 CanLII 191 (SCC), [1996] 2 S.C.R. 27 at para. 28. The evidence in this case was clear that the children were suffering from the protracted dispute and conflict between their parents. Exposure to conflict has been called the “single most damaging factor for children in the face of divorce”: per Backhouse J., in Graham v. Bruto, [2007] O.J. No. 656 (S.C.), at para. 65, aff’d 2008 ONCA 260 (CanLII).

Exposure to conflict has been called the single most damaging factor for children in the face of divorce!