Understanding the Effects of Divorce on Children

Clarity Lawyers Blog Impact Of Divorce On Kids Australia

Divorce, while primarily a decision between two adults, inevitably influences the lives of the children involved.

As parents navigate the complexities of separation, children face their own set of challenges, grappling with changes in family dynamics and relationships. Divorce or parental separation can impact children’s mental health and the way children cope with their parents divorce will differ from child to child.

With the emphasis on the “best interests of the child” in family law decisions, it’s crucial to examine the broader impact — both emotional and practical — that divorce can introduce into a child’s life.

In this article, we’ll discuss the impact of separation on children and the resources available to parents, families and children that may help them to move forward with their lives.

The best interests of the child

When a couple decides to divorce, numerous decisions must be made regarding their children. From determining living arrangements to setting visitation schedules, these decisions profoundly affect a child’s day-to-day life and long-term well-being.

Central to guiding these choices is the principle of “the best interests of the child.” It’s more than just a legal guideline; it’s a holistic approach that underscores the importance of a child’s emotional, educational, and social needs.

By keeping this principle at the forefront, parents and legal professionals can work together to ensure that decisions made during and after the divorce support the child’s overall welfare and development.

Understanding emotional responses by age

To genuinely support children and make decisions in their best interests during and after a divorce, understanding the depth and breadth of its impact is essential.

Divorce isn’t just a legal or logistical challenge; the way divorce impacts children can be deeply emotional and cause stress and angst. The way children internalise and respond to the dissolution of their parents’ marriage can vary dramatically based on their age.

Some ways divorce affects children by age include:

Toddlers and Younger Children

At this foundational phase of emotional and cognitive development, younger children often grapple with feelings of insecurity.

They might exhibit confusion, seeking more attention or showing regressive behaviours like thumb-sucking or bedwetting.

Their understanding is still evolving, and they might perceive the divorce as a result of something they did or didn’t do.

School-age Children

With a slightly more developed sense of understanding, school-age children can experience a spectrum of feelings, from guilt and sadness to anger and frustration.

These emotions can manifest in various areas of their life, especially in school performance and social interactions.


This age group, already navigating the challenges of teenage years, faces added complexities with divorce.

Their burgeoning need for independence might clash with feelings of vulnerability, leading to risk-taking behaviours, mood swings, or even academic challenges.

Being aware of these age-specific emotional responses, parents, caregivers, and legal professionals can gain invaluable insights. It allows for more tailored support, ensuring that decisions made align with the emotional and developmental needs of the child, truly upholding their best interests.

Societal norms and the complexities of separation

The way divorce affects children is influenced not just by individual emotions and reactions, but also by the societal backdrop, available resources, and any associated challenges, such as family violence.

Often a premium is placed on community and familial ties, the end of a marriage can have ripple effects, touching peers, schools, and extended family. These external elements can both challenge and support the child’s emotional journey:

Community Perception

How divorce is viewed in the community can shape a child’s feelings and understanding. A supportive community can provide essential emotional reinforcement, while negative perceptions or stigma can heighten feelings of isolation or confusion.

Educational Institutions

Schools play a pivotal role. While they can offer a semblance of stability and routine, they might also be the place where the effects of trauma, such as from separation or instances of family violence, manifest in a child’s behaviour or academic performance. In such instances, the proactive involvement of teachers and counsellors becomes crucial.

You can ask teachers to keep a watchful eye on your child – often teachers will have seen the impacts of divorce on kids and know some signs of issues. This can help parents manage their children a lot easier.

Access to Resources

Knowledge of and access to counselling services, mental health professionals, community support groups, and programs for families affected by separation and divorce can significantly help children and parents navigate the emotional maelstrom of divorce.

Using these resources can help to reduce any shame or guilt that parents or even children may feel as a result of the divorce.

Clarity Lawyers Blog Impact Of Divorce On Kids Australia 1

Resources and support for parents and children during separation

Navigating the aftermath of parental divorce or separation requires an array of resources to ensure the well-being of the children involved.

Beyond the immediate emotional support, understanding the broader spectrum of available resources can help families stride confidently into their new dynamics.

Some resources that may be useful in your situation include:

Counselling Services

Offering children a sanctuary to articulate their feelings, professional counselling addresses the mental health issues arising from the effects of divorce on children.

Tailored counselling can guide them through the emotional labyrinth, fostering resilience and understanding and avoiding more sever mental health problems.

Community Support

Engaging with local support groups can be invaluable for both parents and children.

Shared experiences offer a sense of belonging, particularly when navigating the challenges of divorced families and many children benefit from this.

Educational Assistance

Schools often play a dual role post-divorce. As we mentioned above, they can act as a constant in children’s lives, offering routine and normalcy. However, any decline in children’s academic performance post-divorce necessitates the proactive involvement of educators.

Parenting Workshops

These programs, sometimes integrated into parent education programs, offer parents tools to navigate co-parenting after divorce effectively, emphasising the best interests of the child.

Negotiation Correspondence Dispute Resolution Lawyers Newcastle

The Role of Family Lawyers

As family lawyers our role isn’t limited to just legal advice or representation in a court room. We offer guidance on parenting arrangements, connecting families with pivotal resources, and always championing the best interests of the child. Ensuring that the effects of divorce are mitigated for the child’s well-being is at the heart of our practice.

It’s easy to let the frustrations and emotional nature of separation take control, but with our help, we can ensure that you’re not only covering your bases legally but that you have time to help your children cope with these new changes in their lives.

Harnessing these resources ensures that families can address the multifaceted effects of divorce on children, placing paramount importance on their mental health, emotional stability, and overall well-being.

Finding positivity amidst the challenges of separation and divorce

For many parents, navigating the aftermath of divorce is accompanied by feelings of guilt, especially when considering the potential effects of divorce on children.

However, it’s essential to understand that divorce, while challenging, isn’t inherently detrimental. In some instances, it can be a positive step towards a healthier and happier family environment, including:

  • Removing Conflict: A household marred by constant conflict, disagreements, or even family violence can be more damaging for children than a peaceful home with separated parents. Divorce can sometimes remove children from a toxic environment, paving the way for more stable and nurturing surroundings.
  • Modelling Healthy Relationships: Children often look to their parents as role models for relationships, especially in the young adulthood years. Witnessing the courage to prioritise personal well-being and happiness can teach them valuable lessons about the importance of mental and emotional health in relationships.
  • Open Dialogue: Regular, open conversations about feelings, changes, and the future can be incredibly reassuring for children. Addressing their concerns and reassuring them that both parents love and support them, irrespective of marital status, is crucial.
  • Quality Over Quantity: While the family structure might change, the quality of time spent with each child remains pivotal. Ensuring that time with children is meaningful, positive, and enriching can mitigate some of the challenges associated with divorce. Children and divorced parents can still enjoy meaningful relationships.
  • Seeking Support: Engaging in support groups, counselling, or consulting with family lawyers can offer guidance on ensuring the transition is as smooth as possible for the children. Such support structures can provide advice tailored to a family’s unique needs.

While divorce introduces change and challenges, it’s the approach to the transition that determines its impact. With understanding, support, and open communication, divorce can sometimes pave the way for a healthier familial environment, emphasising the well-being of everyone involved.

Navigate your separation with our divorce lawyers

Divorce, undeniably, brings about significant family transitions. However, it’s not the end but a shift in the journey. With the right resources, understanding, and emphasis on the child’s well-being, the emotional aftermath can be navigated successfully.

The child’s best interests should always come first both during the separation and once a divorce has been finalised. To help you do this, our family and divorce lawyers at Clarity Lawyers can work with you.

Our role is to help with not only the legal formalities of the process but also ensure that the child’s best interests are taken care of as well and children of divorced parents can lead happy and healthy lives with the right support. You can discuss your situation with us today.

Call us on 02 4023 5553 or book a no obligation consultation here.

Subscribe for all of the latest resources

Rli Samantha@2x
Samantha Miller

Samantha has been a lawyer since 2001 having followed in the steps of her father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather. No one can say she didn’t know what she was getting into!

Initially admitted in 2001 as a solicitor in NSW and Australia, Samantha moved to the UK where she was admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales in 2002. After working in several different areas of the law in large London firms, she determined that family law was her calling and hasn’t looked back.


Oap Close
Not in Newscastle, no problem
online consulations available

Share This

Select your desired option below to share a direct link to this page