Rather than being the glue that prevents parents splitting up, children will at best just delay divorce, according to a Swiss study.
Fabienne Stettler, a sociologist at Neuchâtel University, says the number of divorces peaks when the family’s youngest child is aged between three and five.
“Parents are often too busy in the initial years, when the children are still dependent. When [the children] start school, [parents] are suddenly relieved of a certain amount of pressure,” she said.
Another key moment is when the eldest child turns 20 – a time when their life really starts and they often move out. This, Stettler said, can cause the relationship to flag.
Children from a previous partner is another factor that favours divorce, although having been pregnant before marriage doesn’t appear to impact the couple’s destiny.
Ultimately though children are not the main cause of divorce. Religion, age and geography have a greater influence. People living in towns separate more than those in the country.
According to the Federal Statistics Office, almost one in two Swiss marriages ends in divorce.
swissinfo.ch and agencies