The Impact of Divorce on Children: What Research Tells Us and How to Help


Divorce is undoubtedly one of the most challenging choices a couple can make, especially when children are involved. During legal battles and emotional turmoil, the innocent lives affected are often those of the children. At Coldwell Bowes, our Austin-based team understands the emotional strain that families undergo during these trying times. This article delves deep into research surrounding the effects of divorce on children and how parents can best support them.

The Psychological Consequences: How Does Divorce Affect Children?

Children, depending on their age and understanding, react to divorce in multiple ways:

Emotional Turbulence

Children frequently experience various emotions, from anger and sadness to confusion and guilt. They often struggle to understand the reason behind the separation, sometimes falsely blaming themselves for their parent's decision to part ways.

Behavioral Changes

The impact of divorce isn't just emotional. Children may act out, exhibit disruptive behaviors, face academic challenges, or become withdrawn. For some, this change is a way of seeking attention because they feel lost due to the divorce.

Developmental Delays

Younger children, in particular, might show developmental regressions. For instance, those who had stopped bed-wetting might suddenly start again, or they might revert to more infantile speech.

Long-term Effects

Adolescents and young adults from divorced families often show lower psychological well-being than their counterparts. The effects might carry on into their relationships and marital aspirations.

Age Specific Reactions to Divorce

It's crucial to understand that children of different age groups perceive and react to divorce differently:

Infants and Toddlers

These little ones might not grasp the concept of divorce, but they can undoubtedly sense the change in their environment. The absence of a parent or altered routines can make them more fussy, irritable, or clingy.


Children in this age group might regress in some behaviors, like toilet training. They might also exhibit increased separation anxiety.

Elementary Kids (6-12 years)

This age group may have difficulty reconciling with the new reality. They might blame themselves, often wishing or believing their parents would reunite. Some children may even attempt to devise plans to reunite their parents.


This age group can exhibit a wide variety of reactions. While some may seem to take the news in stride, understanding the complexities of adult relationships, others may feel betrayed or angry.

Strategies to Minimize the Negative Effects of Divorce on Children

While divorce can have several adverse effects on children, proactive efforts can significantly reduce the trauma:

Transparent Communication

Ensure your children know they can talk to you about their feelings regarding the divorce. They should never feel like they're walking on eggshells around the topic.

Stability is Key

Try to maintain routine and normalcy as much as possible. This consistency can act as a comfort during times of change.

Neutral Discussions

Keeping the kids out of the crossfire is vital. Avoid talking negatively about the other parent in their presence.

Seek External Support

Sometimes, despite best efforts, children may benefit from professional counseling to help them navigate their feelings.

Love and Assurance

Regularly remind your children that both parents will always love them and that the divorce isn't their fault.

Divorcing with Kids: The Legal Landscape

Amidst the emotional chaos, the legal facets of divorce need careful navigation, especially when kids are involved. Coldwell Bowes is dedicated to helping families in Austin understand the intricate laws surrounding divorce in Texas. Our team ensures that while the parents might part ways, the children's best interests remain paramount.

Understanding Texas' Stance on Child Custody

The term 'child custody' is commonly used in most states, but in Texas, the legal term is 'conservatorship.' Under Texas law, both parents can be joint managing conservators, which means they'll share decisions about the child's life. It's crucial to comprehend the child custody laws in Texas to make informed decisions.


While the journey through a divorce is tumultuous, with the proper knowledge, support, and strategies, it's possible to shield children from the harshest impacts. At Coldwell Bowes, we guide families with empathy and expertise, ensuring a smoother transition for all involved.

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