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Non Beneficial Effects of Divorce on Children

Each year, over a million American children suffer the divorce of their parents. Divorce causes
irreparable harm to all involved, but most especially to the children. Though it might be shown
to benefit some individuals in some individual cases, over all it causes a temporary decrease
in an individual’s quality of life and puts some “on a downward trajectory from which they might
never fully recover. Source: Amato, P. (200). The Consequences of Divorce for Adults and
Children. Journal of Marriage and Family 62.
Divorce introduces a massive change into the life of a boy or girl no matter what the age.
Witnessing loss of love between parents, having parents break their marriage commitment,
adjusting to going back and forth between two different households, and the daily absence of
one parent while living with the other, all create a challenging new family circumstance in
which to live. In the personal history of the boy or girl, parental divorce is a watershed event.
Life that follows is significantly changed from how life was before. Source: Pickhardt, C.
(2011). The Impact of Divorce on Young Children and Adolescents.
From earlier reports of "broken" families, interparental conflict has been consistently identified
as a major source of behavior problems in children across a wide array of family structures
and settings (Davies & Cummings, 1994; Grych & Fincham, 1990), including divorced and
separated families (Hetherington et al., 1978). There is some evidence to suggest that parental
conflict is the most salient influence on children's adjustment to divorce. In a recent meta-
analysis, Amato and Keith (1991) compared the relative efficacy of three variables (parental
absence, economic disadvantage, and parental conflict) to mediate the effects of divorce on
children's adjustment. Although moderate effect sizes were found for both parental absence
and economic disadvantage, parental conflict accounted for more of the negative
consequences of divorce. Source: Pickhardt, C. (2011). The Impact of Divorce on Young
Children and Adolescents.
People whose parents divorced are slightly less likely to marry. They are much more likely to
divorce when they do marry. According to one study the divorce risk nearly triples if one
marries someone who also comes from a home where the parents divorced. The increased
risk is much lower, however, if the marital partner is someone who grew up in a happy, intact
family. Source: Popenoe. (n.d.). Ten Important Research Findings on Marriage.
Forty percent of children growing up in America today are being raised without their fathers.
Source: Wade, Horn and Busy, “Fathers, Marriage and Welfare Reform” Hudson Institute
Executive Briefing, 1997) cited in “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark
Study by Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee.
The relationship between children and their nonresidential parents also must undergo a great
transformation following divorce. The frequency of contact obviously changes as
nonresidential parents, typically fathers, establish a new homeostatic balance with their
children. Source: Pickhardt, C. (2011). The Impact of Divorce on Young Children and
Studies indicate that daughters of divorced parents have a 60-percent higher divorce rate in
marriages than children of non-divorced parents, and sons have a 35-percent higher divorce
rate. Source: Blakeslee, S., Lewis, J., & Wallerstein, J. (2000). The Unexpected Legacy of
Divorce: a 25 Year Landmark Study.
Teenagers in single-parent families and in blended families are three times more likely to need
psychological help within a given year. Source: Hill, P. (1993). Recent Advances in Selected
Aspects of Adolescent Development. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
Compared to children from homes disrupted by death, children from divorced homes have
more psychological problems. Source: Emery, R. (1988). Marriage, Divorce and Children’s
Adjustment. (Cited in Blakelee et., al.’s The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year
Landmark Study)
A study of children six years after a parental marriage breakup revealed that even after all that
time, these children tended to be “lonely, unhappy, anxious and insecure. Source: Wallerstein,
J. (1991). The Long-Term Effects of Divorce on Children. Journal of the American Academy
of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Children of divorce are four times more likely to report problems with peers and friends than
children whose parents have kept their marriages intact. Source: Breen, D.T. & Crosbie-
Burnett, M. (1993). Moral Dilemmas of Early Adolescents of Divorced and Intact Families.
Journal of Early Adolescence.
Early adolescents of divorce reported more family-related moral dilemmas than did early
adolescents of intact families. The results appear to support the Kegan theory of development,
which postulates that early adolescents of divorce may not advance as soon as other early
adolescents from embeddedness in the family to embeddedness in the peer culture. Source:
Breen, D.T. & Crosbie-Burnett, M. (1993). Moral Dilemmas of Early Adolescents of Divorced
and Intact Families. Journal of Early Adolescence.
Statistical comparisons of the mean moral maturity scores suggested that male delinquents
whose fathers were present attained higher moral maturity scores than those whose fathers
were absent. Source: Bieliauskas, V.J. & Daum, J.M. (1993). Fathers' Absence and Moral
Development of Male Delinquents.
New data from a national Dutch survey are used to examine the effects of divorce and re-
partnering on the relationships that fathers have with their adult children. Compared with
divorced fathers who live alone, re-partnered fathers have less frequent contact with their
children, they exchange less support with them, and the quality of the relationship is poorer.
Divorce and re-partnering thus have cumulative negative effects. Source: Kalmijn, M. (2013).
Relationships between Fathers and Adult Children: The Cumulative Effects of Divorce and
Although many children from divorced families will never show signs of severe
psychopathology, a substantive body of research indicates that divorce does place children at
an increased risk for three different types of adjustment difficulties: (1) externalizing problems,
(2) internalizing problems, and (3) cognitive deficits (Amato & Keith, 1991; Emery, 1988;
Wallerstein, 1991; Zill, Morrison, & Coiro, 1993).
The most robust and consistent finding in the divorce literature relates to the association
between divorce and children's externalizing problems (Grych & Fincham, 1992). These
include such behaviors as delinquency, aggression, and disobedience. Using data from the
National Survey of Children (NSC), a nationally representative sample of 1,423 was evaluated
three times between 1976 and 1987 when children were ages 7-11, 12-16, and 18-22,
respectively (Furstenberg & Allison, 1989; Furstenberg, Peterson, Nord, & Zill, 1993; Zill et al.,
1993). The majority of families remained married during this 11-year duration; however, a
large minority experienced a parental separation before or during the course of the study,
permitting investigators to examine the effects of age and divorce on children's short- and
long-term functioning at home and school. At all three age periods, children of divorced
parents were found to have higher rates of externalizing problems than children from two-
parent families according to mothers, teachers, and their own self-report. Source: Ingoldsby,
E.M. & Shaw, D.S. (1999). Children of Divorce.
The Heritage Foundation reports that children of divorced households tend to enter high-risk
marriages. Even worse, says researcher Patrick Fagan, is that these children often do not
marry and start families of their own, a phenomenon that can disturb social harmony. Source:
Vrouvas, M. (n.d.). The effects of divorce on society.
In most functioning societies, an intact family helps children develop strong moral character.
Lacking such guidance, children of divorce are more likely to behave as social deviants.
Specific findings reported by The Heritage Foundation are that these children are more likely
to commit minor and serious crimes, run away from home, be suspended from school, smoke
cigarettes, abuse alcohol, carry weapons, engage in physical fighting, and use marijuana and
cocaine. And both male and female adolescents living in single-parent households have
experimented with sex by age 11. Source: Vrouvas, M. (n.d.). The effects of divorce on society.
In reviews by Hetherington, Camera, Featherman (1981) and Shinn (1978), children from
single-parent families show deficits in (1) IQ scores, ranging between 1 and 7 points; (2) school
achievement scores averaging less than one year in school; and (3) grade attainment of three-
quarters of a year. However, not all of these families attained single-parent status via divorce.
Data from the 2004 Monitoring the Future survey examined a nationally representative cross-
sectional sample of 8th to 12th grade adolescents in rural and urban schools from across the
United States (N = 37,507). Results found that drug use among daughters living with single
fathers significantly exceeded that of daughters living with single mothers, while gender of
parent was not associated with sons’ usage. Source: Crano, W. & Hemovich, V. (2011). Family
Structure and Adolescent Drug Use: An Exploration of Single-Parent Families.

Non Beneficial Effects of Divorce on Women

Oxytocin can cause a woman to bond to a man even during what was expected to be a short-
term sexual relationship. She may know he is not the man she would want to marry but intimate
sexual involvement causes her to be so attached to him she can’t make herself separate. This
can lead to a woman being taken off-guard by a desire to stay with a man she would otherwise
find undesirable and staying with him even if he is possessive or abusive. Source: McIlhaney,
J. & McKissic, F. (2008). Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children,
p. 38.
In the years immediately after their divorce (1991–1994), divorced women reported
significantly higher levels of psychological distress than married women but no differences in
physical illness. A decade later (in 2001), the divorced women reported significantly higher
levels of illness, even after controlling for age, remarriage, education, income, and prior health.
Compared to their married counterparts, divorced women reported higher levels of stressful
life events between 1994 and 2000, which led to higher levels of depressive symptoms in
2001. Source: Conger, R.D., Elder Jr., G.H., Lorenz, F. O. & Wickrama, K.A.S. (2006). The
Short-Term and Decade-Long Effects of Divorce on Women's Midlife Health.
Divorce breeds poverty, particularly for women and children. In the first 18 months following
divorce, between 77 and 83 percent of mothers and their children live in poverty. With fewer
economic resources, most children of divorce experience disruptions – changes in child care,
living arrangements and schools – that create turmoil in their lives. Source: Vrouvas, M. (n.d.).
The effects of divorce on society.
Non Beneficial Effects of Divorce on Men
Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 Cohort (N = 2,219), we track
unemployment before and during separation and show that men’s unemployment during
separation, rather than women’s, reduces the likelihood of divorce, independent of pre-
separation unemployment and other characteristics. For men, unemployment during a marital
separation prolongs the divorce process, creating an extended period of uncertainty in marital
relationships on the brink of dissolution. Source: Qian, Z. & Tumin, D. (2015). Unemployment
and the Transition from Separation to Divorce.
When parents divorce each other, another sort of divorce occurs between the parents and
their children. The primary effect of divorce (and of the parental conflict that precedes the
divorce) is a decline in the relationship between parent and child. Source: Meneghan, E. &
Parcel, T. (1995). Social Sources of Change in Children’s Home Environments: The Effects of
Parental Occupational Experiences and Family Conditions. Journal of Marriage and Family
57 (1995): 69-84.
Divorce leads to a decline in the frequency and quality of parent-child contact and
relationships, and it becomes difficult for non-residential parents, 90percent of whom are
fathers, to maintain close ties with their children. For example, children spend significantly
more nights with their mother than their father. Nearly 50 percent of the children in one study
reported not seeing their non-resident father in the past year, and the small number that had
recently stayed overnight at the father’s residence did so for a special visit, not as part of a
regular routine. An analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households found that
about one in five divorced fathers had not seen his children in the past year, and fewer than
half the fathers saw their children more than a few times a year. By adolescence (between the
ages of 12 and 16), fewer than half of children living with separated, divorced, or remarried
mothers had seen their fathers at all in more than a year, and only one in six saw their fathers
once a week. Contact with the father declines over time after a divorce, though this pattern is
less pronounced the older the child is at the time of the divorce.32 Daughters of divorced
parents were 38 percent less likely than their peers in intact families to have frequent contact
with their fathers, and sons of divorced parents were 20 percent less likely. Source: Churchill,
A. & Fagan, P. (2012). The Effects of Divorce on Children.
Non Beneficial Effects of Divorce to the Society
Divorce can save people from a bad marriage, but research has shown that it can also
debilitate a society. Divorced adults are more likely to become impoverished while their
children experience psychological and economic stress hindering their social development.
According to the National Marriage Project, between 1960 and 2009, the divorce rate in the
United States doubled; between 40 and 50 percent of newly married couples will either
separate or divorce. With high divorce rates threatening social stability, the United Nations
urges governments everywhere to adopt policies to reverse this trend. Source: Vrouvas, M.
(n.d.). The effects of divorce on society.
Divorce hinders society by dissolving families and weakening belief in the family as an
essential social unit. To sociologists, the family does more than unite people by marriage and
blood or adoption; it provides the educational, financial and emotional support its members
need to thrive socially. Without this support, divorced adults and their children are mentally
and physically weakened, becoming less productive social participants. More broadly, divorce
leads people to question whether having a family is worthwhile. Source: Vrouvas, M. (n.d.).
The effects of divorce on society.
Divorce damages society. It consumes social and human capital. It substantially increases
cost to the taxpayer, while diminishing the taxpaying portion of society. It diminishes children’s
future competence in all five of society’s major tasks or institutions: family, school, religion,
marketplace and government. Divorce also permanently weakens the family and the
relationship between children and parents.2 It frequently leads to destructive conflict
management methods, diminished social competence and for children, the early loss of
virginity, as well as diminished sense of masculinity or femininity for young adults. It also
results in more trouble with dating, more cohabitation, greater likelihood of divorce, higher
expectations of divorce later in life, and a decreased desire to have children. Source: Amato,
P.R. & Sobolewski, J.M. (2001). The Effects of Divorce and Marital Discord on Adult Children’s
Psychological Well-Being. American Sociological Review 66.
Divorce menaces society by disrupting children’s lives, which makes it harder for them to
perform well in school and pursue higher education. Divorced parents who remain single have
less time to supervise their child’s schoolwork or become involved in school activities. As a
result, their children score lower on tests of cognitive development, verbal reasoning and math
and science aptitude. Also, 58 percent of these children are classified as special needs as
opposed to 31 percent of children in intact families. As for educational attainment, children of
divorce are more likely to drop out of high school or not attend college. Source: Vrouvas, M.
(n.d.). The effects of divorce on society.
US data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79), which tracks individuals in
their 20s, 30s and early 40s, show that over time single respondents slowly increase their net
worth. Married respondents experience per person net worth increases of 77 percent over
single respondents. Additionally, their wealth increases on average 16 percent for each year
of marriage. Divorced respondents’ wealth starts falling four years before divorce and they
experience an average wealth drop of 77 percent. Source: Zagorsky, J. (2005). Marriage and
divorce’s impact on wealth.
For the first time, there seems to be a positive correlation between the level of industrialization
and urbanization in Japan and the increasing divorce rate in the nuclear family. Recent
statistics on divorce in Japan show that more and more women initiate divorce, that an
increasing number of divorced women prefer to remain single, and that changing patterns of
divorce have resulted in a lowering of the fertility rate, all of which may have significant
implications for the demographic future of the Japanese population.
With the development of industrialization and urbanization, the Westernization of lifestyles,
and the growing autonomy of women in society, an increase in the divorce rate in Japanese
society is likely. Source: Kumagai, F. (1985). Changing Divorce in Japan.