Them Before Us advocates for a child’s rights to her mother and father. Thus we oppose no-fault divorce, an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), which denies children the daily contact with both parents that they need, crave and benefit from. 

This ACE results in long-term physical harms for children. Among other medical conditions, children of divorce have an increased risk of developing cancer, autoimmune disorders, and suffering a stroke. Annie, whose experience reflects several others in our story bank, details the post-divorce degeneration of her mental and physical health,

I was consumed with anger, questions, and a feeling of wanting it all to end. Suicide was a constant thought that I battled my junior and senior years. I was in counseling most of my senior year. My health tanked. I was diagnosed with asthma, Raynaud’s, and TMJ. All of these ailments didn’t exist before my parents’ separation.

This ACE results in serious psychological and emotional harms to children. One long-term study of children whose parents lived in two different homes found they obtained less education, experienced more unemployment, were more likely to be divorced themselves, and engaged in riskier behavior than their peers raised in intact homes. Another study discovered nearly 50% of post-divorce children developed two different personalities as each home offered different versions of the truth, and required keeping different secrets. Leigh-Ann Smith describes her bifurcated heart and life this way, 

I lost myself in every effort to appease each side of my family. Shuffling alone between two separate lives meant that I was on the fringe of each family, never an insider. The people I loved most were never in the same room together, and many of them barely even knew each other existed. I missed out on events and celebrations because I would have to spend time with my other family. Children of divorce learn to cope with these inconsistencies and instability…

The rights and needs of children must be prioritized over the desires of adults, thus we urge you to support HB 3188. The physical, psychological and emotional harms of divorce are merited only if one spouse is found to be grievously at fault. Divorce granted based on one parent’s vague claim of “insupportability” levies a lifetime of harm, loss, and risk onto the most vulnerable members of the family- children. It should be opposed by not just the State of Texas, but by all who are concerned with fighting injustice.

There seems to be a belief that when a couple separates, their children feel sad for a while afterwards but then things are OK. And yet the truth is… it pervades everything, changes everything in your life, way into the future. It doesn’t just change the next few months, it changes the next 50 years. – Olly Lambert, filmmaker and child of divorce


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