Even though divorce is sometimes necessary, it has a direct effect on all family members. The effect on children can be especially long-lasting. Some children will carry the impact of this event into adulthood. As a parent, it's important that you try to recognize the effects and be proactive in assisting your child or children through this life-altering transition. Below, Law Office of Rick D. Banks discusses both the short-term and long-term effects of divorce on children.

Short-Term Effects of Divorce on Children

High Stress

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology, it is not unusual for children to blame themselves for the divorce. Even young children can internalize these feelings, thinking they can get their parents back together. These feelings cause great amounts of stress. Stress can manifest itself differently in younger children than older children. It may lead to nightmares, lashing out, withdrawal, lead to other symptoms including negative thoughts about even simple things, and even fear.

Heightened Anxiety

Divorce can also bring uncertainty. Children aren't sure what the future is going to look like and their routines might be altered. The uncertainty can make children nervous, anxious, and experience tension. This anxiety can carry over to school and activities. They may start to lose interest in their hobbies.


Changes to the family unit, many that often happen quickly, can cause great sadness for children. They are trying to find a new normal while they may mourn the loss of what was. Extreme sadness can even lead to depression.

Disillusion About the Situation

During a divorce children might be disillusioned about what is happening. It is helpful if they can connect with both parents to better understand each parent's role in their "new" life.


Due to the changes divorce brings, younger children don't always have the words to express their feelings. Older children may feel betrayed or not like some decisions being made about their future. This can cause mood swings or irritability. If it becomes extreme it can cause a child to withdraw.

Long-Term Effects of Divorce on Children

Substance Abuse

When children are stressed they may turn to substances such as alcohol or drugs to cope. This is especially true for teenagers. The drugs or alcohol might be viewed as an escape. However, if not caught early substance abuse can lead to long-term abuse, even addiction. Such abuse can also affect their health.

Social and Behavior Changes

Continued stress, sadness, and irritability (all short-term effects) can lead to longer lasting social and behavior changes. These feelings and the divorce, if left unresolved, causes a child to act out. In some instances these outbursts can even be violent. The longer these unresolved feelings persist the greater the social and behavior changes. These changes can have long-lasting effects on society and may even result in criminal behavior.

Changes in Socioeconomic Status

Divorce inevitably can lead to changes in cash flow, available resources, and even basic needs being met. Ideally both parents will provide for the children. However, that is not always the case. If one parent does not support the children changes in social standing and even changes in health from lack of resources can occur.

Effect on Education

Divorce can negatively impact children's education. This may arise due to changes in routine or a lost interest in learning due to stress. Children can fall behind. A poor education foundation can have lifelong consequences, including reduced professional or occupational opportunities.

Longstanding Depression

Depression is often a short-term effect of divorce. However, for some children it becomes long-term and can even become a mental illness. Children suffering from depression may need professional help.

Long-Term Relationship Trouble

It is not uncommon for children to model behavior they learn from their parents. When children see their parents fight and marriage disintegrate, they may have trouble with their own future relationships. Children wonder if other relationships will also fall apart. These effects can follow well into adulthood.

Learn More About the Effects of Divorce on Children

Divorce is stressful for both adults and children. It can have a long-lasting effect on children. Your divorce should also consider what your children need. Contact the Law Office of Rick D. Banks today to discuss how you might lessen the effects of divorce on children. To schedule a no obligation consultation, call (559)222-4891.
Categories: Divorce