Sibling rivalry could lessen likelihood of relationship breakdown and divorce

8th March 2015 by


Growing up among multiple siblings may have seemed like a chore for those with more than one or two brothers and sisters, but US researchers say that living in a large household can reduce an adult’s likelihood of relationship breakdown and divorce in adulthood.

In August 2013, the sociology department at The Ohio State University released findings which suggested that, for each additional sibling a child grows up with, their chance of not having to undergo a divorce reduces by two percent per sibling.

Co-author of the study Doug Downey said that, in practical terms, growing up with just one or two siblings does not make a huge practical difference, “but when you compare children from large families to those with only one child, there is a meaningful gap in the probability of divorce”.

Using data from the General Social Survey of approximately 57,000 adults across the USA who were interviewed 28 times between 1972 and 2012, the analysis showed a marked protection from divorce for each additional sibling, up to around seven siblings. Once additional siblings totalled more than seven, there was no further protection but no reduction either.

The researchers presented their findings at the American Sociological Association’s annual conference and told attendees that the smaller families of today could be one of the reasons for rising divorce statistics. The team recognised that only children and those with just one sibling are likely to do better at school, probably because they get more attention at home, but that children who have to live in a situation with multiple siblings are generally more sociable.

Donna Bobbitt-Zeher, co-author of the study, said the team expected that any number of siblings would give experience in personal relationships which could help in maintaining a marriage, but the really interesting fact seemed to be how family dynamics changed incrementally with each additional sibling.

She added, “Having more siblings means more experience dealing with others, and that seems to provide additional help in dealing with a marriage relationship as an adult.”

Healys’ solicitors – for when siblings aren’t enough to prevent a divorce

As experienced divorce solicitors in London and Brighton, our family law team knows that all the research and statistics in the world don’t mean a thing when your relationship ends and you need to get a divorce.

That is why we treat each client’s circumstances individually, listen carefully to the situation and offer straightforward, bespoke legal advice so that our clients can make informed choices about how they wish to proceed.

When a divorce is amicable, and arrangements for children and financial settlements are mutually agreed, we can help to keep the proceedings on track and move forward in pragmatic fashion. However, if things become acrimonious, we offer robust litigation techniques to protect our clients’ best interests.

To find out more about the divorce solicitors at Healys LLP, and how we can help you to negotiate a divorce, please call our London or Brighton offices today.