Divorce and Effects on Children

There are many studies on divorce and effects on children. To begin with, there is good news: most children of divorce are resilient and do not suffer from the negative effects of the divorce of their parents.

Inform yourself about the effects of divorce on children

Inform yourself about the effects of divorce on children

The effects are dependent of the context of the divorce. There are different types of divorce and effects on children:

  • a civilized divorce
  • a dirty divorce
  • a divorce due to abuse

A Civilized Divorce

In a civilised divorce, the parents divorce for some reason and they divorce in a civilised way. They agree without fighting about the divisions of the bank accounts and their assets and usually they agree on shared custody of the children and they brew up a parenting plan.

In this type of divorce, the situation of uncertainty is short for both the parents and the children.

In most of the cases, the children are surpised by the divorce announcement. Because their parents did not fight a lot openly, they did not expect it and they do not understand. Some children will stay in disbelief and denial. They might even blame themselves for the divorce and they expect their parents to get back together again after a while.

Related to a civilized divorce and effects on children, children often start thinking they are to blame for the divorce of their parents. Many other effects can show up too.

A Dirty Divorce

In a dirty divorce, the parents were already fighting verbally and maybe also physically a long time before they announce the divorce. The message does not come as a surprise. The children will understand the divorce of their parents easier than in the civilised divorce.

The announcement of the divorce might come as a relief for the children, because the separation of their parents will end the fights.

However, the fighting parents usually keep on fighting over every detail, trying to make life for each other (and of course for the children) as difficult as possible. The actual divorce process might take years. All this time, the situation for the children is uncertain and causes a lot of stress and discomfort.

Related to a dirty divorce and effects on children, stress and suffering are most common.

A Divorce Due To Abuse

Be it abuse of one of the parents and / or of the children, the announcement of the divorce will certainly come as a relief. In these situations, the separations usually follows immediately after the announcement. The children will be separated from their abusive parent immediately. Installing in a different place, losing friends and having to change school will be minor inconviniences related to the situation from before the divorce.

Related to an abuse caused divorce and effects on children, anxiety and stress are common. Children fear the abusive parent will return some day.

Types of Divorce and Effects on Children

The effects of a divorce on children are in fact independent of the type of the divorce. However, as explained above, the some effects could play more prominent role. Many negative behaviour and psychological problems are not caused by the divorce itself, but can be very well the consequences of the situation and the care that has been taken of the children in the years before the divorce.


Most children do experience a divorce as painful. However, pain is a natural emotion. It goes away over time. The following painful effects are reported by adults of divorced parents:

  • they are different persons because of the divorce
  • they experienced a tougher childhood
  • they fear when both parents show up on an event (wedding, graduation)
  • they missed their dad being around and they wonder if he loves them
  • they missed not having both their mother and father around


Suffering is a choice. Once the pain is gone, you do not have to suffer. You can choose to think about the past constantly or to look forward and thrive in the future.

Divorced parents should accept their new situation quickly and to go on with their life. If a divorced parent does not accept the new situation, the children will not be able to accept the new situation either. They will keep on suffering from the divorce instead.

Divorce and Effects on Children tip

Children do not have to suffer from a divorce. Parents can help children to get over it. If they cannot, they could involve a therapist to help the children.


A divorce usually comes with a lot of stress for the children. Stress reduces the learning and remembering abilities, disrupts the sleep and has a very negative influence on a person‘s health. Parents can do many things to limit the amount of stress.

The stress is a results of the uncertainties of the changes to come. Where will we live and with whom? What about the money? Do I have to switch school? Can I stay in the same sports team? Will I be separated from my sister or brother?

"The boy is from a broken family" carries a negative connotation. Divorce is still seen as a failure. It lowers a child's self esteem. Some children of divorce are ashamed of the divorce of their parents.

Behaviour and psychological problems resulting from a divorce

  • disobeyance
  • stay away from school
  • bad results at school
  • to behave angry in situations that were completely acceptable for them before the divorce
  • avoidance of their social network (which thay badly need)
  • being depressed
  • anxiousness
  • blaming themselves for the divorce of their parents

Boys successfully express their anger and get rid of the frustration. Girls however, tend to lock up their anger internally for many years. Usually until they make an important decision that will impact her life for many years.

Divorce and Effects on Children tip

If you observe one or more of above mentioned problems in your children for a longer period of time, consider seeking professional help.

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