If you look back in time at your parents, grandparents and beyond, do you see a history of long marriages or do you see stories of separations and divorces? According to a new study, your family narrative is an indication that genetics plays a significant role in whether or not you will get a divorce and whether your offspring will one day be sitting down with family law attorneys to discuss property division, child custody and related matters.
Lead researcher and professor at Virginia Commonwealth University Jessica Salvatore said, “We found that the reason the children of divorced parents are more likely to experience divorce themselves is because of genes shared between parents and children.”
She notes that there is no “divorce gene” passed from generation to generation, but rather that the study reveals “a family measure of genetic risk.”
Salvatore said some of the traits passed on that can contribute to divorce include impulsiveness, high levels of negative emotions and difficulty in showing restraint in conflict.
She cautions people against reading too much into the study’s results, however.
“If you say something is genetic and runs in the family, like divorce, people feel as if they’ve been bitten by a werewolf and that divorce is inevitable,” Salvatore said.
She said that is simply untrue and that “genes are one factor in a complicated equation and you can trump them” with purpose and effort. “They’re not your destiny,” she adds.
Of course, in many situations divorce is inevitable and is, in fact, a positive development that allows people to move on in their lives.
An experienced family law attorney can help you protect your rights and interests in divorce disputes, including division of property, child custody, spousal support (alimony) and more.