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Divorce and Its Impact on Children’s Wellbeing


Marriage and divorce are distinct events that affect the daily lives of children. Most notably, the mental health, as well as the physical and cognitive capabilities of individuals, can be compromised if they experience parental divorce. Hence, reviewing the research that examines the impact that divorce can have on a child’s wellbeing is crucial for understanding the specifics of this occurrence. This essay aims to review literature sources that discuss the impact of divorce on children.

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In order to understand the impact of marriage and divorce on children, it is necessary to examine the physical, cognitive, and emotional health of individuals in both conditions. According to Ribar (2015), coordination between the child’s parents and the economy of scale are the primary factors that influence the wellbeing of a child. Married couples usually can cooperate better and combine their financial resources to produce more benefits for their children. In this regard, divorce impacts both elements, affecting the financials of the family and the ability of the child to communicate with both of his or her parents.

Ribar (2015) assumes that each parent aims to provide all the necessary resources to their children. However, in cases of a lone mother or father, the financial and intangible resources, for example, time, are more limited when comrade to families with both parents. Ribar (2015) reports that lone mother households usually earn only 37% of the income that married couples with children receive. This statement suggests that the issue of divorce is more complex and incorporates not only the relationship of biological parents but also the resources that lone parents can provide when compared to married couples.

There are several factors that impact the growth and personal development of children and can be disrupted by divorce. Ribar (2015) argues that the main elements contributing to the wellbeing of a child are “income, fathers’ involvement, parents’ physical and mental health, parenting quality, social supports, health insurance, homeownership, parents’ relationships, bargaining power, and family stability” (p. 17). The mentioned aspects are often impaired in cases where the parents are divorced.

Hence, marriage produces a lot of non-direct benefits that impact a child, while divorce mitigates these positive influences.

The circumstances of divorce may differ, and the specific events can be perceived in a different manner by the children, meaning that predicting the outcomes of divorce for a child is impossible. However, the researchers discussed above outlined some of the common issues that were shown to arise as a result of divorce. Lament (2019) focuses on examining the adults who experienced the divorce of their parents when they were children and the impact that this event had on their lives and mental health.

Some of the issues that the author points out are the fact the child may be unable to form a relationship with a parent before the divorce, and the approach that one parent has when discussing the other. The two elements shape a child’s view of the relationship between a mother and a father, which will affect his or her relationships in the future.

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The psychological impact that divorce has on children is an important aspect. D’Onofrio and Emery (2018) state that only 60% of children in the United States live with both of their biological parents. The prevalence of family instability raises concerns regarding the public health of children. D’Onofrio and Emery (2018) cite issues with grades, disruptive behavior, and depressed mood as the primary outcomes that public health specialists should consider when working with such individuals. An important note is that many of the children who experience parental divorce display resilience, showcasing minimum evidence of emotional distress.

However, if the emotional difficulties are not addressed properly, children from divorced families can be engaged in risky sexual behavior, experience poverty, or have unstable relationships (D’Onofrio & Emery (2018). In general, the change of the family structure that is a result of divorce has an evident and significant impact on a child.

This is especially dangerous when other risk factors are present – such as low income or severe conflict between the parents. All of these factors can endanger the wellbeing of a child and lead to subsequent issues in his or her adulthood. However, as was mentioned, it is possible to mitigate the risk of developing adverse behaviors as a result of the negative impact of divorce by addressing the emotional difficulties a child experiences.


Overall, the explored evidence suggests that children are affected by the divorce of their parents. The studies report that the physical, emotional, and cognitive health of individuals who grow up in families where their biological parents are married is better when compared to children whose parents are divorced. This impact is a result of cooperation between the parents and the combined resources, producing an economy of scale. As a result, these children can display adverse behaviors in their adulthood or have academic difficulties due to emotional difficulties associated with the impact of divorce.


D’Onofrio, B., & Emery, R. (2019). Parental divorce or separation and children’s mental health. World Psychiatry, 18(1), 100–101. Web.

Lament, C. (2019). The impact of divorce on children: The view from the perch of adulthood. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 72(1), 16–23. Web.

Ribar, D. (2015). Why marriage matters for the child wellbeing. The Future of the Children, 25(2), 11-27. Web.

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