Social Science Update: What are the rates and predictors of divorce among parents of youth diagnosed with ADHD?

In 2008, social scientists conducted a study that looked at 244 children diagnosed with ADHD. The scientists gathered data from the parents of adolescents and young adults with and without ADHD via telephone surveys. The study focused on how many years after the birth of the child the divorce occurred, the number of years the couple was married before the birth of a child with or without ADHD, the severity of ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Conduct Disorder (CD), and the diagnoses of the parents.

This study found that parents of patients were more likely to divorce (23% versus 13% of parents without children with ADHD) by the time the child turned 8 and had a shorter time between the birth of the child and the divorce. The study found that the father’s antisocial personality provided the highest risk of divorce in these cases.

Other factors that increased the risk of divorce included lower maternal education, higher paternal education and paternal antisocial personality, being ethnically or racially diverse, young age at first diagnosis, and elevated ODD or CD behaviors. These findings suggest that disparity in parental education is a risk factor for divorce.

Overall, the results of this study reflect that both child and parent variables contribute to the risk of divorce and to a shorter time between birth and divorce. Further, the results suggest multiple difficulties for these children with ADHD and these children may have greater difficulty adjusting to a divorce.

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