How Divorce Affects Children
Wed, April 21, 2021

How Divorce Affects Children

Divorce can be traumatizing, neither to the former married couple, nor to their children / Photo Credit: gstockstudio via 123rf


Divorce has always been one of the most difficult experiences that a family can go through, and can also become one of the most traumatizing experiences for a child. Not only must parents realize the impact of this, but they mustr also figure out new ways to relate to each other for their kids.

However, when parents divorce, the effects on children can also vary. Some children are very understanding of the situation, but others may struggle with the transition because every child is different -- of a different age, different temperament, and many more. Even so, children can surprise you; they are resilient and are capable of adjusting to the circumstances they’re presented with. 

Divorce by the Numbers

In data, as presented by Wilkinson & Finkbeiner, a company of family law attorneys, surprisingly, as of 2016, rates for both marriage and divorce are decreasing in the US. This is because many are choosing to wait longer before marriage and are marrying at an older age. For marriage, the rate is 6.8 per 1,000 total population. Moreover, according to statistics presented by the same firm, the divorce rate in the US is 3.2 per 1,000 population, with the rate at 16.9 for every 1,000 married women; this is double that of 1980.

It was estimated that 41% of all first marriages in the US end in divorce, with an approximation of 50% of all marriages ending in divorce or separation. Among the countries with the highest divorce rates include Russia at 4.8 per 1,000 total population. The US comes in fourth after Russia, Belarus, and Gibraltar. Among other countries in the list with high divorce rates are Maldives, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Sweden, Costa Rica, Portugal, and Hungary. Divorce rates among less fortunate families are more prevalent, associated with educational attainment, emotional stability, financial stress, and those likely to turn to alcohol and drug addiction. Additionally, an annual income of over $50,000 can decrease the risk of divorce by 30% versus those making below $25,000, or even those without ownership of assets before marriage. If a friend or a family member is divorced, the likelihood for divorce increases, with it being 147% more likely if one has divorced friends.


Divorce has always been one of the most difficult experiences that a family can go through / Photo Credit: Katarzyna Białasiewicz via 123rf


The average age for a person that gets a divorce is 30, and every 13 seconds, one couple is expected to get a divorce in the US. That is, 277 divorces per hour, 6,646 divorces per day, 48,523 divorces per week, and 2,419,196 divorces per year, most common among dancers, bartenders, and massage therapists. Wilkinson & Finkbeiner found that 48% of those who marry before the age of 18 are likely to get divorced within 10 years versus 25% of those who marry after the age of 25--a direct relation of age and maturity impacting lifelong decisions.

Healthwise, a study titled “Divorce and Death” showed that broken marriages can harm a person as much as a cigarette. Indication of deaths after a broken marriage is 23% higher than in married couples.

Effects on Kids

Around 43% of children in the US are being raised without fathers due to divorce. In divorces involving children, the divorce rate is 40% lower than those without children. Parents try to act in ways that are the best for their children, and the majority believe that divorce is not one of them. However, it was found that divorces happen more in couples that have daughters as children, with a 10% difference if the child was a son. Fathers are 3% less likely to be living with their daughters than their sons after a divorce, which means that the father-daughter relationship is a significant factor in divorce.

Children from divorced homes suffer academically, with high levels of behavioral problems. Their grades suffer and they are less likely to graduate from high school, as researched by Marie Astone and Sara McLanahan from a comprehensive study on “Family Structure, Parental Practices, and High School Completion.”

More than this, because family income drops substantially after divorce, children of divorce are five times more likely to live in poverty than children that live with their parents. In addition to poverty, these kids also experience illness more frequently and recover more slowly, including from psychological distress.


Children from divorced homes suffer academically, with high levels of behavioral problems / Photo Credit: Katarzyna Białasiewicz via 123rf


Children that don’t exhibit extreme effects after divorce must not be taken lightly. Not every child of divorce will commit crimes or drop out of school; some are still able to become high achievers. What is certain is that divorce creates deep and lasting emotional trauma in any child, which can color their view of the world and their relationships.

The bottom line is that, before entering into a marriage and choosing a lifelong partner, a solid decision must be made to avoid conflict in all areas. That the decision must be upheld. Divorce is costly for everyone: the government in terms of housing facilities and food privileges provided and the couple in terms of their resources to fund lawyers. The most costly, perhaps, are its effects on the health and wellness of the child caught in the middle of the chaos.