A divorce is never easy on anyone; not the married couple during this stressful time and certainly not their children who have to cope with such a tremendous change at this point in their life.

And while adults eventually get over the divorce, it’s much more difficult for children who are often unfamiliar with what led to the divorce and the profound impact it has on their lives during the time when their personality is still fragile and forming.

The effects of a divorce range from short-term ones to ones that have a profound impact on their life and their personality. This is why it’s important for parents to keep the divorce process as civilized as possible by avoiding stressful court proceedings and hiring a mediator like Pacific Coast Mediation to keep the divorce as civilized as possible.

In this article, we’ll go through some of the most common short and long-term effects a divorce can have on children, and what you as parents can do to help them cope.

Short-Term Effects of a Divorce on Children

The divorce process can leave children confused and vulnerable to a number of different emotions. This can lead to short-term effects that parents going through a divorce often neglect to notice or address.


The entire divorce process can leave children tense and filled with anxiety. The younger the children, the more prone they are to these feelings as they are much more dependent on their parents. Children suffering from post-divorce anxiety may lose interest in their favorite hobbies and activities and may go through a rough period at school.


The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry reports that a lot of children blame themselves for their parent’s divorce. Effects of Divorce on Children These children feel the need to make things right and try to reconcile with their parents. This can leave them extremely stressed out and put them under a lot of pressures. In turn, this could have other adverse effects like nightmares and a flood of negative thoughts and emotions.

Frequent Mood Swings

Children may become much more irritable during their interaction with friends and family members. Other children decide to shut themselves off to the world and stop interacting with people they know altogether. Therefore, kids may go from completely quiet to aggressive or devastated.

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Long-Term Effects of a Divorce on Children

While short-term effects are usually easy to deal with, it’s the long-term effect of a divorce that can leave a profound impact on a child’s life. At the time, their minds are usually fragile and the divorce can have an enormous impact on them. Here are some of the ways a divorce can scar a child for life:

Relationship issues

When children grow up in a dysfunctional marriage that they witness crumbling, they begin to question the meaning of a relationship. They are more likely to develop trust issues and have difficulty dealing with conflicts. Therefore, children that go through a divorce tend to start any relationship with a negative disposition.

May turn to Substance Abuse

Adolescents are known to turn to alcohol or even drugs to get rid of their anxiety and frustration. There have been numerous studies showing children with separated parents tend to turn to substance abuse more than others. However, long-term substance abuse can cause serious harm if left unchecked for too long.

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Finally, the heartbreak of a divorce can leave children more susceptible to chronic depression. Children who go through the divorce may shut themselves off and drown in their feelings of sadness. Finally, the divorce and the depression are thought to contribute to the development of various mental conditions such as bipolar disorder.