Call Us for a Consultation

Effects of Divorce on Children

Little sad boy crying. Abuse of children concept

Children can move forward after divorce without serious repercussions, but it takes the dedication and support of both parents. Parents who are planning to divorce can take measures to reduce the effects of divorce on children. Divorce lawyers can help build the right support into parenting plans. A parent can also take the time to understand the emotional responses kids commonly have to the parents’ divorce.

Little sad boy crying. Abuse of children concept

Understanding the Effects of Divorce on Children

By becoming aware of the impact of divorce, parents can take steps to help children heal. The effects of divorce on children show in four primary ways.

How does divorce affect children?

 The impact of divorce on children can show as follows:

  • Poor Academic Performance: During a divorce, confusion, distraction, and upset of daily schedules and activities can make it difficult for children to focus on schoolwork.
  • Change in Social Activity: Sometimes kids feel insecure and isolated when their family is going through a divorce. Parents may notice social anxiety, or even a change in friends/ social groups.
  • Acting out and Emotional Sensitivity: The stress, change and emotional upset can be overwhelming for a child. Parents may notice increased emotional sensitivity, irritability, anger, or other behavioral issues. Without an appropriate outlet, these issues can magnify.
  • Destructive Behavior: Sometimes, unresolved conflict can cause children to rebel through destructive behavior. They might take up smoking, drinking alcohol, or using drugs.

Reducing the Physical Stress of Divorce

Children face physical stress when parents divorce that can lead to health risks and concerns. Research has found that children who are living in divorced households are at higher risk for illness and injury. To reduce this risk, parents can keep up with annual well-child visits, vaccinations, and trips to the doctor if a child is sick. Divorce lawyers can add wording to parenting agreements that states how medical care needs will be handled.

Reducing the Emotional Stress of Divorce

One of the biggest long term effects of divorce on a child is emotional. Children do not typically have the emotional fortitude to deal with these strong emotions well. Sometimes, a child will need counseling or therapy to work out his or her feelings. Without proper emotional support, these problems can follow children into adulthood. In addition to getting professional help for the children, parents can reassure children of love and care. Parents can also work to minimize the conflicts that the children may see and talk about the divorce in a healthy manner.

Supporting Academic Success After Divorce

There are a number of factors that make it harder for children to succeed academically after divorce. Not all of these are things parents can help with, but lack of parental involvement increases the risk of struggle. When children are navigating two households, it’s easy for parents to fail to follow through on academic involvement. Working to stay involved with children’s learning will help prevent academic problems that arise after a divorce. Divorce lawyers can help parents outline responsibilities in parenting plans, so both parties know what the other is doing and nothing slips through the cracks.

Protect Your Child from the Effects of Your Divorce

Divorce can be a difficult experience for children. As moms and dads adapt to single parenting methods and new ways of communicating, children are often left feeling confused, hurt, and lost in the shuffle. Fortunately, there are things divorcing parents can do to help protect their children from many of the effects of divorce.

Collaborative Divorce: Prevention Is Key

As an increasing number of Illinois parents begin to realize the adverse effect divorce may have on their children, more couples are starting to turn to collaborative divorce than ever before. A collaborative divorce is beneficial to families in a variety of ways. It is typically less expensive than a traditional divorce, which can help prevent financial hardship and the emotional stress that accompanies it.

Additionally, since each parent and his or her family law attorney participates respectfully, honestly and in good faith to resolve the issues at hand, children are usually exposed to less tension and conflict, and they enjoy the benefits of more effective co-parenting.

Reduce Exposure to Conflict in a Divorce

In some situations, divorcing amicably is simply not possible. Still, it is important to minimize the amount of exposure kids have to the conflict at hand. Parents should avoid arguing, name-calling, making derogatory remarks, and other negative behaviors around their children.

Why Is Uncertainty Difficult for Children?

Uncertainty causes stress. Studies show that people feel more stressed about the possibility of something bad happening than when they know something bad is going to happen. This stress arises for both adults and children. However, uncertainty can be especially difficult for children because the related stress can manifest itself in many ways that children haven’t yet learned to recognize. 

With intermittent school closings and quarantines, children are dealing with more uncertainty than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. If a child’s parents are also divorcing, the level of uncertainty is even higher. Fortunately, parents can reduce their children’s stress levels by helping them feel more in control. 

What Helps Children Deal with Uncertainty?

Parents can employ several strategies to help their children deal with uncertainty. Steps that can help children feel more in control include:

  • Discussing how to recognize feelings of uncertainty
  • Providing honest, age-appropriate information
  • Establishing a consistent and predictable routine
  • Finding stress-relieving activities to enjoy together

Discussing How to Recognize Feelings of Uncertainty

Stress caused by uncertainty can manifest itself in many ways. Children should understand that uncertainty may feel like irritability for them but feel like trouble sleeping for another child. Parents can help their children feel more in control by helping them identify and understand their feelings.  

Provide Honest, Age-Appropriate Information

Parents should be open and honest with their children, but be careful to only provide as much detail as is appropriate for their children’s ages. While parents may want to lie to protect their children, lies often do more harm than good. However, parents need to carefully consider the potential impact that sharing certain information could have on the child’s relationship with the other parent before providing the information to the children.

Establishing a Consistent and Predictable Routine

Parents can battle uncertainty by providing a consistent routine for their children. An established routine gives children a sense of stability and can help them focus on what they can control. Children may also feel like they have more control if they can choose dinner or which game to play for family game night.

Finding Stress Relieving Activities

Parents can introduce their children to stress-relieving activities such as yoga or hiking. These activities will provide children with healthy coping mechanisms for stress. Parents and children can also enjoy these activities together, giving them valuable bonding time.  

Although divorce causes uncertainty for children, parents can make a plan to support their children with the help of a divorce lawyer

Uncontested divorce lawyer Denise Erlich is passionate about helping divorcing couples in the greater Chicagoland area transition to their new life as seamlessly as possible. Ms. Erlich patiently guides her clients through every step of the divorce process and provides clients with candid advice about their case and legal options, so they can make informed decisions about their future.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
Related Blog Posts