There are many ways in which the effects of divorce manifest in children. Different ages, personalities, and circumstances all play a role, but in this article, we will look at the typical ways in which children are impacted by divorce.  

Feeling conflicted 

Understandably, children can often feel conflicted or compromised between their two parents. This can be the case if one parent wants to relocate and take their child with them or if both parents want the child to live with them or take their side. 

Academic performance 

Another consequence is children experiencing difficulties academically. This could be in the form of more absenteeism at school or college, getting into trouble, or receiving poorer grades than expected. Their parents’ separation can lead to a preoccupation for some children and may result in limited concentration at school or when doing homework. 

Difficult behavior 

Some older children may exhibit complex or anti-social behavior directly from their parents going through a divorce. Teenagers of separated parents are likelier to partake in alcohol misuse or substance abuse. They are also more likely to commit crimes too. 


When there is only one income stream within a household, families, and children can be left living in poverty and struggling with the cost of living. This can mean some young children do not have the proper equipment, uniform, or even meals they need to support their education. 

Divorce affects different ages. 

Divorce affects age groups differently, which can determine how a child reacts to a divorce. For young babies up to around 18 months, the tension in the environment can be picked up on, despite having no understanding of the reasons. The atmosphere in the home can leave them feeling clingy towards one or both of their parents, and in some instances, there could be developmental milestones that aren’t reached. Physical comfort and consistency can considerably comfort youngsters at this age.

When it comes to toddlers and pre-schoolers, the effects of divorce are usually more pronounced. They understand more about what is going on with their parents, and some can even feel responsible for the separation. This can result in behavioral changes such as temper tantrums, sleep disturbances, and regressions such as bed wetting. Again, routines will help children at this age and provide a sense of security. 

Older school-aged children will be used to having their parents together for several years. The new circumstances can lead to feeling abandoned, and they will have an even more significant comprehension of the conflict or disagreements between their parents. To help prevent their child from feeling anxious, angry, or unhappy, parents should ensure quality time is spent with them, check in to see how they are doing emotionally, and encourage them to open up about their feelings. 

When it comes to adolescents and teenagers, the impact can manifest in the form of sleeping problems, academic performance, and depression. Some teenagers can feel neglected, leading to them experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Parents must proactively observe what their child is doing and how they think. Teenagers may prefer to speak to a trained counseling professional in some cases.  


Divorce can have a profound and long-lasting impact on children, whatever their age, with the full effects often not surfacing until many years later. In all cases, parents should refrain from bringing their children into divorce proceedings and discussions. This can reduce disruption to their everyday lives, maintain routines, and keep both parents involved in the child’s life when possible. 

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