Marcy Segal – The Psychological Effects of Divorce on Children

August 11, 2022 Blog No Comments »

Going through a divorce, and separating from your spouse, is never an easy time on anyone. When a child, or children, are involved it can make it even more difficult. Adults can understand when a romantic relationship doesn’t work out, however children don’t always see it the same way when their parents are no longer together. If you’re going through a divorce, with children, here are some of the effects you may not see right away.


It might seem odd that children are experiencing stress, however when their parents are going through a divorce it means they are losing daily contact with one of their parents (most likely) and this can cause a lot of stress for a child.

The fact that a child will be spending much less time with one of their parents can cause their bond to decline, and negatively impact that relationship development.

Additionally, the divorce could mean moving to a new house or switching schools. So on top of not spending as much time with one of their parents, the stress of a new daily routine can really cause insecurities for a child.

Talking about these changes with your child can help them explore healthy ways to express their feelings and make them feel safe.

Behavioural issues

 Sometimes children whose parents are going through a divorce, or who have been divorced for a while, will present with behavioural problems – at school or at home. This could include conduct disorders and even impulsive behaviours.

They may also experience increased conflict with their friends or peers at school, even when they previously got along with mostly everyone.

Issues with academic performance

Your child may have previously done really well in school with their grades, but going through a divorce at home can really impact their academic performance.

You may find that your child needs a tutor, or maybe even find a counsellor for them to talk to. This can help them to work out how they’re feeling so that they are able to better focus on their schooling.

It may be beneficial to talk to your child’s teacher to let them know that this is happening at home, so they are aware. When they know there are special circumstances going on at home, they can keep an eye on your child and help them as needed.

Participating in risky behaviours

If your children are a little older then they might react to your divorce by participating in risky behaviours. For example, they may participate in substance abuse or sexual activity.

This is not to say every child will partake in these activities, however in some cases they may feel angry and not be sure how to express what they feel in a healthy way.

Talking to your children to let them know they can tell you anything, or finding them a counsellor that they can talk to could go a long way to giving them healthy outlets for their feelings.

Divorces are tough on everyone, but there are some really long-lasting effects on children. If they aren’t addressed or handled it can lead to some negative psychological effects.


Contact Segal Law today

If you are going through a divorce with children, its important to work with a family lawyer who understands the dynamics that families can go through and who can offer resources and support. If you would like to speak to one of our family lawyers, contact us today.

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