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5 Ways Children React to Divorce

December 20, 2016
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childrenChange can be very stressful for children to handle. When parents go through a legal separation or divorce, these stresses are often amplified.

But studies have found that divorce affects children and adolescents differently. While adolescents and kids over the age of nine, often mature more quickly following divorce, kids under nine years of age tend to regress and become more dependent on their parents.

Young children rely on their parents much more than older ones do. Separating can often shake a child’s trust in their family dynamic, and elicit feelings of unreliability in their parents.

Transitioning between parents is an unfamiliar concept at this age, and a child may be overwhelmed with instability. But all kids react differently to divorce. Here are several things that you may expect to see from your child:

Financial strain

Weekly arguments about finances lead to 30% more divorces than less frequent arguments do. While you may have been financially stressed before, in the cases of many single parents whose partner was the primary breadwinner, money becomes even tighter following separation. Things that you may have done before as a family, like go to the movies or go out to dinner once a week, may not take place anymore. While your child doesn’t see your bank statements, they do feel the effects of the financial toll after a separation.

The Blame Game

When parents separate, its natural for a child to be angry and upset. They may blame a parent for the separation, or sometimes blame themselves.

At a young age, its hard to comprehend that divorce is not taken lightly, and that in some cases there is no one to blame. Sometimes couples just grow apart over time, and that’s nothing to feel guilty about.


Separation can sometimes be a messy process, and of course some spouses will talk poorly of their exes. Even at a young age, kids can understand disdain, and may become bitter toward a parent who badmouths the other.


In an unhappy or stressful household, a child may understand that their parents simply do not get along. Following divorce, many kids are more understanding. In the case of an abusive relationship, many kids hope that their parents will separate. Sometimes chronic unhappiness between two parents is enough for a child to hope for a separation.


While divorce may be stressful at first, seeing parents thrive while living separate lives can be rewarding for a child, and may be therapeutic when dealing with the aftermath of the separation.

In many cases, regardless of your child’s age, divorce may be the best option. While you should always keep your child’s best interest in mind, know that in some cases a child may be happy to see you and your spouse live separate lives.

Adjusting to changes is a difficult process, which is why it’s important to hire a good divorce lawyer to lay out all terms and conditions regarding finances, assets, and, of course, your children, before moving forward.

With the help of Ken Phillips, you’re far more likely to move forward with an amicable divorce that benefits everyone.

Ken Phillips
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