Children Of Divorce Research Papers
The Effects of Divorce on Children : A Selected Literature Review
This paper seeks to provide an overview of some of the social science findings related to the effects of marital disruption on children. Divorce and life in a one-parent family are becoming increasingly common experiences in the lives of parents and children. Prior to the 1960s, divorce in Canada was rare. However, following the adoption of the new Divorce Act in 1968, which made divorces more accessible in all provinces/territories and allowed marriage breakdown as grounds for separation, the number of divorces increased dramatically. According to Dumas and Péron (1992), between the end of the 1960s and the mid 1980s, the divorce rate increased fivefold. In 1995, the most recent year for which data are available, there were approximately 77,000 divorces granted in Canada, a rate of 262 per 100,000 people (Statistics Canada, 1997). According to a report prepared by the Bureau of Review (1990), Statistics Canada estimates that almost one-third of all Canadian marriages will end in divorce. Moreover, it is estimated that one in two divorce cases involve dependent children, illustrating that each year a substantial number of children are affected by divorce. According to the report, in the late 1980s, approximately 74,000 children became "children of divorce".
Starting in the early sixties, a great deal of research has been conducted on the effects of marital disruption on children and it is perhaps not surprising that the social sciences have had more impact in this area of the law than in any other. During the 50s and 60s, the dominant discourse in the literature constructed the mother as vital to the child’s well being and this was associated with legal and policy shifts that emphasized the "tender years doctrine". Beginning in the late 70s and particularly since the 80s, however, a shift has occurred. The welfare of the child has become the central and determining metaphor in family law and we are witnessing an emphasis on the importance of the role of the father as an instrument of that welfare. Moreover, rights to equality between parents have been used to bolster that role. There has been an emphasis on consensual joint parenting after divorce and on agreement rather than conflict between parents. Fatherhood has achieved a new status and policy shifts seek to maintain relationships between men and children.
Through a review of the literature, this paper attempts to examine how one might best understand the concept of "best interests of the child" by examining studies which attempt to tease out the effects of marital disruption on children. Although the majority of articles are from the United States, for the most part, similar results have been found in other countries and there is little reason to suspect that the experience of Canadian children would be substantially different.
The first section of this paper discusses the limitations associated with research conducted in this domain. The second section examines a range of key situational and demographic factors associated with the negative impacts of marital disruption on children. These include: child characteristics (e.g., gender, age); family characteristics (e.g., socio-economic status, childrearing techniques); and, situational characteristics (e.g., the existence of conflict before and after divorce, custody arrangements, availability of support systems). The final section of this paper highlights research aimed at reducing the negative impacts of divorce and marital disruption on children.
-  The term "marital disruption" is used in this paper to denote separation and/or divorce.
-  This number refers only to legal divorces and does not take into account other forms of marital disruption, such as separation. Therefore, the number of children involved in marital disruption is even higher.
-  This is based on an average of 1.8 children per couple.
- Date modified:
Does divorce usually lead to long-term negative consequences for children?
Effects of Divorce
The effects divorce has children have been studied by many different psychologists over the years. These researchers have drawn varying conclusions based off their findings. The response of children to divorce depends on several factors. These include the child’s age, gender, and the amount of conflict between the parents. In addition, these effects are attributed to whether or not the child lives full time with one parent or there is a joint-custody arrangement.
The child’s age is an important factor as it points to their understanding and maturity. Mary Temke of the University of New Hampshire attests to this in her article, “The Effects of Divorce on Children.” Toddlers, for instance, often blame themselves for their parent’s divorce. They may see the divorce as the consequence of their misbehavior. On the other hand, adolescents may be moody, or cope by taking special responsibility for the family. Furthermore, teens may favor one parent, blaming the other for the divorce.
Furthermore, the gender of the child plays a role as boys’ and girls’ response to the situation can vary. Temke writes that children raised by parents of the same sex tend to have greater success adjusting to the divorce than those who are raised by a parent of the opposite sex. Tamke concedes, however, that the child’s relationship with the primary parent is of more importance than the possibility of being raised by a parent of the opposite sex.
In Chapter 7 entitled, “Understanding the Stress Responses of Children Caught in Postdivorce Conflict” from the book Divorce Wars: Interventions with Families in Conflict Elizabeth Ellis discusses the problem of divorce when the parents are in conflict. Ellis sites Janet Johnston’s study in 1980 in which she discusses the children’s age as an important factor in how they handle conflict. The tension between the parents would surface during visitation. The younger children often exhibit more emotional responses such as frowning and crying during contention. Children then go through a stage when they shy away from the fights between their parents or try to stop the fighting between them. However, when children reach the late elementary school years, avoiding the conflict tends to be a high priority. It is around this age that the child normally sides with one parent over the other.
In a study entitled “Effects of Father and Mother Parenting on Children’s Mental Health in High-and Low-Conflict Divorces” conducted by Irwin Sandler, Jonathan Miles, Jeffrey Cookston, and Sanford Braver the focus is on the child’s psyche and how it is affected by the divorce. This is influenced with the level of intimacy they have with their mother (who has custody and their father who has visitation rights and the conflict they have between them. Studies have shown the growing complications in the conflict between the parents, the effectiveness of their parenting, and the emotional stability of the child. Retrogression evaluations were used to see how the child internalized and externalized dilemmas. This study points to the age and sex of the child of the initial importance, followed by the parental intimacy with their child and the conflict with each other. This study shows that if the child has a good relationship with at least one parent, it is beneficial in a troubled divorce.
Divorce: Long-Term Consequences on Children
My research paper is about the possible consequences of divorce on children in the long-term. Being one of the children of divorced children, this topic immediately sparked my interest. In 2005, marriages within their first ten years suffered a 60% divorce rate. This statistic is extremely high and has possible negative effects on the children involved.
Throughout my research I have come across many different interesting facts regarding the effects of divorce on children later on in life. Three facts jumped out at me as the most shocking, and therefore the most interesting. This first is that the younger the child is during the divorce, the greater the likelihood of long-term negative consequences. Seeing as how most divorces occur during the first ten years of marriage means that there will be more children who will suffer in the long-term. Another interesting fact is that males are more negatively impacted by divorce than females. I found this interesting since females have long been considered the more “sensitive and emotional” of the two genders. This fact however supports the contrary. The third interesting fact that I came across is that individuals whose parents divorce at a young age are significantly more likely to marry young, divorce, remarry, and experience long-term difficulty with interpersonal relationships. This shows that divorce leads to divorce, which means that many generations will suffer the negative consequences of divorce.
(2004) Does divorce create long-term negative effects for children? Retrieved on December 4, 2008 from
This website had many facts and statistics on divorce and its effects on children. The site is very well organized also.
Rodriguez, H., & Arnold, C. (2008, October) CHILDREN & DIVORCE: A SNAPSHOT Retrieved on December 4, 2008 from
Another very interesting website, full of multiple statistics and consequences of divorce on children in the short, intermediate, and long-term.
Saposnek, D. T., (2002, February) How Are The Children Of Divorce Doing? Retrieved on December 4, 2008 from
This website presents the findings of two conflicting researchers: Judith Wallerstein and Joan Kelly. Both of these researchers came to different conclusions on the effects of divorce on children in the long-term.
Divorce: What It Really Does to the Children Involved
My paper is about the consequences of divorce on the children involved in it. I find this subject interesting because lots of my friends whose parents are divorced lead relatively normal lives, and it seems like the divorce does not affect them emotionally or mentally. This is important because many children are involved in divorce, and may be negatively affected because of it.
I found many facts that do prove that divorce negatively affects children involved in the divorce. For example, although most children of divorcees do not have teenage pregnancy or drop out of high school, children who have divorced parents are twice as likely to have a teenage pregnancy or drop out of high school than children who have married parents or parents that are still together (Arnold 1). Statistics also show that children who are involved with the divorce of their parents are more likely to have severed relationships with their parents rather than children whose parents are not divorced. Finally, children involved with divorce usually suffer from emotional trauma, economical problems, and troubles in school rather than in children whose parents are still married or together (Aylon).
Arnold, C. & Rodriguez, H. (1998, October). Children & Divorce: A Snapshot. Center for Law & Social Policy http://www.clasp.org/publications/children_and_divorce.htm
A source that gives many statistics on children who have been affected by divorce.
Aylon, O. & Adina, F. (1993). Chain Reaction: Children and Divorce. London: Briston, Penn.
Consequences of children who’ve been through divorce.
Jeynes, William. (2002). Divorce, Family, Structure, and the Academic Success of Children. New York : Haworth Press,
How divorce affects the structure of family and success of children in school.
Divorce and its Effects on Children
Does a divorce between parents have long lasting effects on children? If so, in what ways are they affected? Coming from a family of divorced parents, I have always been interested in what research says about this topic in comparison with my own personal experiences. It is important for these questions to be answered so that we are well aware of what our children go through in the event of a divorce.
There are a lot of aspects in a divorce that affect children in ways that aren’t always apparent. For instance, one of the most important things that a child feels while being raised in a happily married family is a sense of security. It’s difficult to maintain this sense of security during the traumatic events that take place during a divorce. Also, a divorce can cause children to become vulnerable when dealing with relationships of their own. Children of divorce have a desire to be wanted or appreciated, and may gain a skewed image of a healthy relationship. Finally, one of the most noticeable effects a divorce has on children is a gaining of resentment towards the parents. Often feeling cheated and caught in the middle, kids will often act out in ways that they would not normally do. These actions are all considered to be direct results of a divorce.
One of the sources that I found useful when doing my research was an article written by Alan L. Frankel, L.C.S.W, called Divorce and its Effects on kids, which outlined some of the things that children experience when dealing with a divorce. Also a book called, Children of Divorce, by Craig A Everett provided information about the role that children play in the family that is dealing with a divorce. Finally, one of my favorite sources was an interview with Robert Hughes, Jr, PhD, titled Divorce and Children. It provided answers to specific questions regarding the responses by children who go through a divorce. These and many other sources provided information from different perspectives that helped me gain understanding on the subject of divorce, and the long term effects it has on children.
Does Divorce Have an Effect on Children?
The topic I chose for my paper was divorce and whether it leads to long-term negative consequences for children or not. I found this topic very intriguing because I am actually a child of two divorced parents and have always wondered why I dealt with my parents’ divorce differently than other children of divorced parents. Also, I found this to be a good subject to research because of the large number of divorce that takes place in our country. If we knew the answer to this question, in the future we could help parents of broken marriages use the correct approaches when dealing with their divorce.
After all my research on divorce and its long term effects on children, I have realized now that there is no simple answer. The outcome of the divorce varies per family and because of several different factors. However, after reviewing my journal source, I realized that the marital status of being divorce, the amount of control the parents have, and the quality of the parenting skills are the factors that directly cause the largest amount of negative effects on a child’s behavior. Furthermore, the sex of the parent with custody, the economic strain in the household, co-parental conflicts, and the custodial parent’s difficulty in coping with their multiple roles are the factors that indirectly cause a smaller amount of negative effects on the child. I also learned that when children experience negative effects from divorce they experience it in two different ways, by internalizing and externalizing behavior. When a child is internalizing they seem to have too much control over t heir emotional state and express it by being shy or by depression. When a child is externalizing they don’t have control over the emotions they are feeling and they will express them by being aggressive and acting out. Therefore, while the effect divorce has on children varies family to family, sibling who experience the same divorce would most likely have the same effects since they come from the same family circumstances. Also, depending on the age of the child, they may experience different ways of dealing with the divorce and then these ways can turn into other outcomes after years pass. For instance, females seem to adapt to divorce easier than males but when they get older they are the ones that are most impacted by the divorce when it comes to their own intimate relationships.
Eloff, S. (2008, January 20). “An Exploration of the Ramifications of Divorce on Children and Adolescents.” The Child Advocate: Divorce Effects on Children. The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. Retrieved November 20, 2008, from http://www.childadvocate.net/divorce_effects_on_children.htm
This website article will be interesting because it lists all the different effects divorce has on children due to their age group. Therefore, if you’re looking for the effects divorce would have on a particular child you could see the most likely effects by looking up their age.
Frazee, K., Mailloux, M., Atkinson, E., Smith, S., Ungurian, P., Davison, M., & Buckle, A. (2004). Does Divorce Create Long-term Negative Effects for Children? Retrieved November 20, 2008, from http://dmental04.tripod.com/
This website would be good to check out because it explains a more simple study where they receive their results straight from observing the children. The study they explain collected their results from talking with the child and observing their behavior.
Hilton, J. M., and Derochers, S. (2002). Children’s behavior problems in single-parent and married-parent families: Development of a predictive model. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage,Vol. 37 (13-33).
This would be an excellent reference to look up and read if interested in the subject. The journal is credible and gives a great amount of information on the topic. It also has an excellent, thorough study that takes place which give significant, detailed results. The study also lists all the facts that contribute to the different effects divorce has.
Meyer, C. (2008). “Myths Surrounding Children and Divorce.”About.com: Divorce Support. About.com. Retrieved November 20, 2008, from http://divorcesupport.about.com/od/childrenanddivorce/p/childrenmyths.htm
I think this online article will catch a lot of people’s interest because it goes over common, false beliefs people have over divorce and the contradicting truths. Therefore, you can receive basic knowledge by this article and correct common, yet false, beliefs you may have.
Long Term Effects of Divorce on Children
Divorce is a controversy that is studied expensively as it is becoming more common in the United States. The children are the main aspect of this split relationship that are affected, however the severity of the effects are dependent on several variables. I became interested in this subject because my parents recently filed for divorce and I wanted to know how it would affect me now, as well as in the future.
Divorce can have a considerable effect on the children involved in the failing marriage and can be expressed in a number of ways depends on age and sex. According to Tempke (2006), children aged three through five will often blame themselves for the break up; children six through twelve are likely to fall into a state depression and/or act out repeatedly as well as randomly. Children aged thirteen through eighteen commonly are rushed into adulthood and have life-long emotional issues. The other factor is sex, girls usually find it easier, but will have emotional difficulty later in life. Boys on the other hand are likely to become aggressive and violent towards others, physically and emotionally (Oppawsky, 2000). The best way to eliminate the display of these effects is for a parent to ease children into the situation with a heavy emphasis that it is not their fault. It is also important not to discuss problems regarding the other spouse with their children, but instead look to a therapist or friend for help (Eleoff, 3).
Grych, H. John; Fincham D. Frank. (1992). Interventions for Children of Divorce: Toward Greater Integration of Research and Action [Electronic Version]. Psychological Bulletin, Volume III, 434-454. Retrieved November 21, 2008 from EBSCO host; University of Massachusetts Library: South Campus.
This journal article is beneficial because it discusses the effects of divorce in different context. It explains the effects in terms of the number a child is in the family and how that influences after effects.
Temke, W. Mary, Carman Rebecca (2006). The Effects of Divorce on Children [Electronic Version].. University of New Hampshire: Cooperative Extension, 1-2. Retrieved November 22, 2008, from Family and Human Resources at the University of New Hampshire. This journal article is helpful if trying to determine the specific age groups and the effects onchildren within those same age groups. It is useful because it explains what to expect from children of certain ages without over generalizing.
Oppawsky, Jolene (2000). Parental Bickering, Screaming, and Fighting: Etiology of the Most Negative Effects of Divorce on Children from the View of the Children[Electronic Version].. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, Vol. 32, 142-147.
This journal article discusses the common emotions that are associated with children in a
divorce and what happens between children in parents in the stressful event.