Divorce and the effects on children

With 42% of marriages in England and Wales ending in divorce, we take a look at some of the ways in which children may be affected.

Academic performance

Research has shown that children who have been through more than one divorce with their parents have lower grades at school than those whose parents are together.

Where children are young when their parents divorce, there is an increased risk that they will drop out of school. They may also have a fear of commitment and a lower-paying job as adults.

Social problems

Children with divorced parents may experience more difficulties with their peers than children whose parents are still together. This may be because they take out their emotions such as frustration or unhappiness on their friends. There may also be an element of resentment involved.


For teenagers, there is an increased risk of mental health problems and issues with behaviour. Studies carried out in the US also suggest that children who live with both parents may be physically healthier than those whose parents have separated.

Child Poverty

Unsurprisingly, poverty is an issue for more children whose parents have divorced, as parents need to pay for two separate households. Sadly, child poverty is on the increase. Pre-pandemic is was estimated by Action for Children that 4.3 million children were living in poverty in the UK, up 200,000 from 2019; and up 1/2m over the past five years.

Child poverty is defined as someone living in a household where the family income is 60% below the average (median) income in a given year.

Helping children through

It is important to note that divorce might not be the sole factor influencing these problems and it could be the case that these families are experienced difficulties that increased the chance of divorce.

If you are going through a divorce, there is plenty you can do to ensure your children are not adversely affected.

Keeping to a routine as far as possible can be helpful. Communication is important, and talking through their worries with them can help you understand what their concerns are. You may find that they are troubled by different issues than you imagined. For example, they may be concerned that they will have to move away from their friends.

They need to be reassured that both their parents still love them and, wherever possible, you should try to present a united front and talk about changes together.

Younger children may be angry and you should try to listen to this without judging them. If you can stay calm, they are more likely to be able to be open with you.

If you are struggling to sort out arrangements with their other parent, mediation is highly recommended. You will be helped to explore your options and to try and reach a mutually acceptable solution in respect of any contentious issues, to include children, finances and property.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert family lawyers, ring us on 0345 241 3100 or email us at mail@cplaw.co.uk

Meet Marianne Tyndall

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