Children in Divorce & Separation

Separation and divorce can have lasting effects on the emotional well-being of children. When a marriage or long-term relationship ends, the bond that children once shared with family as a cohesive unit ends as well. Not only must children witness the break-up of their parents, but they are also at the mercy of the family court system. In most cases, the courts will ultimately decide where children will live and who will raise them until young adulthood. Divorce and separation can have physical effects on children, as well as effects on their ability to learn and interact with other people.

  1. Custody

    • One of the major ways children are affected by divorce or separation is custody. When a relationship involving children ends, parents must decide who the children will live with a majority of the time and who will have visitation rights. If the parents can not agree, a family court judge will have to decide which parent will have custody of the children. In most cases, if both parents are fit, a judge will grant joint custody. Joint custody means that the children will share time between both parents.

    Parenting Agreements

    • Parenting agreements are different than custody in divorce and separation. Parenting agreements involve an understanding between parents relating to how they will raise their children and how they will make the major decisions that affect the lives of their children. Some parents have their attorney's draft formal parenting agreements while others have more informal parenting agreements such as a verbal discussion. Parenting agreements involve decisions such as where the children will attend school, under what religion they will be raised, and how disputes will be resolved.

    Financial Effects

    • Children are financially affected by divorce and separation. When both parents live together, they share the household responsibilities and bills. In the event of a divorce, there are multiple households and multiple sets of bills. A strain on financial resources can also equate to a strain on a child's quality of life. Non-custodial parents are often ordered to pay child support to the parent that has the children a majority of the time. It is often the case that child support payments are not enough to afford children the quality of life they were used to when their parents were together.

    Parental Alienation

    • Divorces often turn bitter. Although parents are legally obligated to support and nurture their children's relationship with the other parent, this is not always the case. During a divorce or separation, children are often caught in the middle of feuds between parents. Parental alienation occurs when one parent deliberately interferes with the child's relationship with the other parent by not actively encouraging the child's involvement with that parent. Alienation can go so far as the children being brainwashed to the point where the they are fearful and express hatred toward the other parent.


    • Parents have the obligation to protect their children from emotional and physical harm during a divorce. Children's lives are disrupted through no fault of their own and the affects of a divorce or separation can last through adulthood. To prevent any traumatic disruption in the children's lives, it is best to agree on parenting and custody arrangements before the children are even made aware that a divorce or separation is to take place.

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  • Photo Credit Portrait eines traurigen Kindes image by HumerMedia from

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