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What are the negative effects of divorce on children? (Guide for Parents)

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What are the negative effects of divorce on children?

There are negative effects of divorce on children. Many of them may experience difficulties when their parents separate.

Children’s mental health can deteriorate after a family break up, leading to short and long-term consequences. If you’re divorcing, developing strategies to mitigate these issues is important.

Negative effects of parental divorce

There are various ways that parental separation and divorce affect children. It can impact their education and socialising ability, create trust issues and more.


Many children of divorced parents struggle at school. They can experience difficulties concentrating on their work and fall behind in their education. Divorced families can often change their routines as one parent leaves the home.

Throwing off the routines of younger children, in particular, can cause stress and an unwillingness to pursue learning. Long-term, this may lead to children failing to complete high school or dropping out of tertiary education.


Some children cope with the trauma of divorce by withdrawing from those around them. Young children, especially, can perceive a parent leaving the home as a betrayal.

This can lead to trust issues affecting their ability to develop healthy relationships. Difficulties at school can also make developing friendships harder and cause feelings of isolation.

Behavioural changes

Struggling with mental health issues after a divorce can lead to children displaying changes in their behaviour. Some children may start acting out uncharacteristically or becoming more subdued.

This impacts their quality of life, relationships with family and friends, and desire to pursue interests.

a sad boy sitting on stairs

Helping children after parent’s divorce

With so many challenges posed by divorce, how can parents manage to support their children and help them adjust?

Open communication

Talk to your children and answer any questions they have. Explaining all the details of what’s going on is unnecessary. Explain in simple terms what they should know. This can include where they will live and with whom. Will they be changing schools?

Above all, ensure they understand they are loved and you will always support them.


After a divorce, children can often feel a loss of control. When routines are disrupted, life can become unpredictable and confusing. Parents can mitigate these feelings by including their kids in making small decisions.

They could suggest what to have for dinner or how they might like to rearrange their bedroom. By doing this, you can give them a sense of control over their environment.


Try to maintain routines where possible. This may be difficult with one parent leaving the home or changing the child’s residence. However, keeping the same bedtime or eating meals at similar times can go a long way to creating a sense of safety. You can also create new routines that better suit your post-divorce life.

Seek external help

While parents have primary responsibility for their children, that doesn’t mean they have to do it alone. Extended family can offer a lot of assistance. Grandparents, aunts and uncles can care for the children occasionally to get them out of the house and experience something new. A feeling that they have a family network to rely on can help a child’s mental health greatly.

If you see your children having a really difficult time, consider taking them to a counsellor. By talking to your children in a safe and non-judgmental space, they may discuss concerns they aren’t willing to discuss with you.

counselling a child


Divorce is never easy. Children can be especially impacted by divorced or separated parents. This can lead to myriad mental health problems that affect education and socialisation and cause behavioural changes.

However, with the right strategies, parents can help their children adjust. Open communication, sharing small decisions, and re-establishing routines help children overcome difficulties.

Contact our office today if you need advice on parenting agreements and child custody.

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Rowena Ferrall


Rowena Ferrall is the principal lawyer of Ferrall & Co. Lawyers, which was established in 2017. The firm specialises in family law, domestic violence and criminal defence.

Rowena is licensed to practice in Queensland and the High Court of Australia. Her approach combines legal expertise with compassion, ensuring clients receive the right advice and emotional support. She’s an active member of several law associations and supports various charities. Contact Rowena for more information.

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