Effects of Divorce on Children

Audrey Suski, Lauran Conley, Grace Doan, Chris Garabrandt, Paul Garcia


Divorce is a national issue, that also effects the outcomes of youth in later development. The outcomes of today’s youth will affect Omaha’s community. This study is going to gather information on divorce policy using school handbooks, church websites, divorce support groups, and articles from the Omaha World Herald. Several scholarly articles were gathered to conduct our research for our topic. We are seeking information of how children of divorce are accommodated in Omaha.



While analyzing the data collected from secondary sources such as collecting pamphlets, brochures, and handbooks from schools, and family oriented services across the Omaha metro. These units of data revealed similar themes. The most common themes were emotional stability, custody, academic achievement, and pre/post-divorce. Data analysis also revealed a few uncommon themes such as, child’s development within the community and making healthy environments for children. The themes decided upon to are the most common that were stated above. In conclusion, the data analysis revealed the themes of emotional stability, custody, academic achievement, and pre/post-divorce.

A total of 20 different scholarly articles, with a range of topics within the divorce spectrum, were evaluated for this analysis as well, used as primary data for the analysis. The articles, along with the secondary data were organized into orientating memos, which were used to make a coding sheet. The coding then was organized by theme on an excel spreadsheet, making it easy to input these specific themes into the analysis.





The time before a divorce occurs can be very confusing to both the parents and the children. There is a lot that goes into explaining to your children what is happening and what will happen after the divorce occurs. One major part to helping a child understand is making sure that communication is open and honest, so they still feel like they can talk to both parent. Communication is a main part of any relationship but, it is crucial for a parent/child relationship. Although divorce may be hard for children to understand, in the long run it may be the better option for their sake. If kids grow up in a household of constant arguing, they will perceive that as normal later in life. Before a divorce occurs, there is usually a lot of fighting between the parents and therefore, a lot of stress on the children. Depending on a child’s age, they may not understand that once the divorce happens they will live in a separate home from one parent, instead of being one unit. In conclusion, before a divorce takes place there is a lot that goes into making sure children understand what is going on and that they continue to feel safe and wanted by both parents.

From secondary data collected across the metro, findings show that schools and family services around the city include literature, and community programs that highlight pre-divorce implications a child may experience, in hopes to make a positive impact going forward in all children’s lives.


One of the hardest parts about the divorce process is sorting out custody. It not only is hard for the parents, but for the children as well. From research, findings have shown that there are different outlines for custody. When a judge sees both divorcing parents equally responsible, they rule that the child spends 132 days with one parent and 133 days with the other, with birthdays and holidays alternating each year. This arrangement guarantees that neither parent will be upset, but what about the child? One of the most common arrangements is having the child go from one home to the other every few days, is most disruptive. With 50/50 custody, there could be a lack of consistency between the rules that the parents have at their own homes. A problem when sorting custody is that the children could be seen as a prize to be “won”.  But no matter the arrangement, the child’s best interest should be at heart.

It was apparent that custody issues are a huge negative implication that divorce has on children in the Omaha metro. When collecting secondary data for the analysis of effects divorce has on children, custody was a major theme that kept showing up in pamphlets, and handouts from schools and other family services in Omaha that were collected for qualitative research.



After the divorce is finalized, the post-divorce phase begins to set in. Even when the divorce is finalized, there are still many issues that affect the children and the parents. While divorce can sometimes benefit the relationship between the parents, it can negatively affect the children. Separate households can create more stress for the children, and make the children feel like they have to like one parent more than another. The age of the child can also have an effect on how they cope with the divorce. Some children are too young to understand what’s going on and how to handle the stress, and they could act out and get in trouble. The most important people to help the child deal with these issues are both parents. There are also outside resources, such as counseling to help alleviate some of the stress. By realizing their children are affected and monitoring their activities, it can help deal with these issues as soon as they start.

Analyzing secondary data for this research, it was found that Omaha offers many programs for children going through, and that have divorced parents. Talking to some of these programs volunteers revealed that many children stay in these programs long after their parent’s divorce has been finalized, because they still feel the need for support, having to deal with the lingering effects divorce has on them as children. This is evidence that there are lingering effects after divorce that many children in the metro face, and luckily there are outlets across Omaha to attack this problem.

Emotional Stability

Divorce is a huge disruption in any family, causing emotional issues for every member. Children often do not understand the reasons for divorce or why their family life is changing. Custody and changing homes can add another level of stress. Children feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to, and don’t feel comfortable bringing up their feelings to their parents. Some children develop trust issues because of divorce. Counseling is a good for children because it gives them an unbiased third party to discuss their feelings with. Open communication within the family is the best way to maintain the emotional stability of the children.

The secondary data collected for this research game physical evidence through pamphlets, brochures, and school handbooks that the city of Omaha provides many opportunities for children to seek help, while experiencing the negative psychological effects that divorce has on children.

Academic Achievement

Academic achievement gages a student’s success in meeting short or long term goals in education. Today’s society has constructed a way of measuring one’s academic achievement, and this usually involves completing the following: graduating high school, and going on to college to earn a degree. Achieving academic success is very strenuous, and often time involves a high psychological well-being. The problem many people face today, in achieving academic success, is that often times they grew up, or come from family settings where the parents have been divorced.

Recently, many studies have shown that divorce is associated with diminished psychological well-being in children, and that this decline helps explain the connection between divorce and lower academic achievement. It is estimated that nearly half of all first marriages in the United States end in divorce, and of those divorces half involve a child under 18 years old (Cherlin, 1992; Popenoe, 1996) This is problematic, because if studies are correct, then that means among several of those marriages end in divorce, given the notion they produce offspring, the offspring of divorced marriages will perform more poorly in academics than of offspring who are not a product of divorced parents.

This is not good for society as a whole, as it gives a larger chance of children achieving low in academics. This leads to a more uneducated, and less progressive society, in a world where being educated, and progressive gets you farther as a society, and helps play a role in a more global landscape.

With everything found in the secondary data collected, Omaha proved to highlight this issue, and through programs offered by schools, churches, and family services gave psychical evidence that there are outlets children can look to, so that their academic career is not put into jeopardy because of the uncontrolled factor that their parents divorced.



From all the data collected, it is easy to see that divorce carries a lot of baggage. No matter the situation, it is best to keep the child’s best interests in mind. If you notice any behavioral problems, it is important to seek help. During this tough time, it is best to keep a strong relationship with the child and both parents. The children of divorce are not only affected emotionally, but they could be socially and academically impaired.


Amato, Paul R. “The Consequences of Divorce for Adults and Children.” Journal of Marriage            and Family 62.4 (2000): 1269-287. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.


This article goes into detail about the effects that divorce has on the well-being of adults and children. The articles main conclusion is that those people who see divorce experience many social problems, from those who do not experience divorce. These social problems include parent-child relationships, continuing discord between former spouses, loss of emotional support, economic hardship, and an overall increase in the number of negative life events such as moving.


This article relates to our research topic of how the city of Omaha accommodates the youth of divorced families, because it explains how the quality of parental functioning is one of the best predictors of children’s behavior, and well-being. This is important to our topic because it tells us how parental functioning is imperative to a child’s growth, and that parental functioning is severely in jeopardy when parents decide to divorce.


Amato, Paul R., and Jacob Cheadle. “The Long Reach of Divorce: Divorce and Child Well-being across Three Generations.” Journal of Marriage and Family 67.1 (2005): 191-206. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.


This article explains the factors that divorce has on children over generations. The article presented studies that showed how over three generations the effects of divorce have a lasting imprint from generation one to generation three. After presenting the studies, and data, this article concluded that divorce in the grandparent generation was linked with several problematic outcomes in the grandchild generation. This suggests that events in the lives of grandparents can have long-term implications for the lives of grandchildren.


This article relates to our research topic, because it shows us how over three generations divorce can have a lasting impact on children’s well-being, including psychological, and academic achievement implications. This evidence is important to our research topic because we can look more in depth at the problem of divorce has on children over several years, and not just the effects of one generation. This will give us a more rounded view of how Omaha accommodates youth of divorced parents, or even grandparents.


Douglas, Emily M. “The Effectiveness Of A Divorce Education Program On Father Involvement.” Journal Of Divorce & Remarriage 40.3/4 (2004): 91-103. Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.


This study assesses divorce education programs and their focuses on father involvement. It measures different areas of father involvement and father outcomes. Two groups of divorced fathers filled out surveys for this study. One group participated in a divorce education program; the other group did not. The outcome of the study is that many divorce outreach programs do not appear to bring lasting changes to the lives of divorced families. However, it should be taken into consideration that the selected demographic was very small and the results were self-reported. Part of our research project will be assessing the involvement of both parents in a child’s life after divorce.


Ehrenberg, Marion F., Laura-Lynn Stewart, Diane N. Roche, Jennifer Pringle, and Jacqueline Bush. “Adolescents in Divorcing Families.” Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 45.3-4 (2006): 69-91. Web.


This article discusses how children of divorced parents are affected and how they deal with that trauma. It is important for the child to seek the needed help they need to cope with the issue. It is said in one study that is more common for a child to talk to their close friends or a family member. Older children however did state that they would rather talk to an adult professional to deal with the major family transition. If the child gets along with both parents at time of divorce, it is said that have the most positive long term outcomes. It is important for the child to have access to a strong support system. This article is important for our project because it mentions the different outlets that these children have to deal with their emotions throughout this divorce process. Lack of support may cause even more emotional conflicts for the child later on in life. This article also shows the depth of the hurt caused by the divorce and compares them to children with intact families.


Gilman, Jan, Dana Schneider, and Rebecca Shulak. “Children’s Ability to Cope Post-Divorce.” Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 42.3-4 (2005): 109-26. Web.


Kids’ Turn is a program meant to help children and adolescents deal with the disruption that divorce and separation that divorce imposes upon their lives and their families. The study was administered to a group of 61 7-9 year-olds and their parents. The results of this study show that Kids’ Turn is capable of affecting change in attitudes and belief systems, as well as behavior, for the children involved in the program. The program also activated fantasies of reconciliation and made the children more aware of conflict between parents. Our research project will be looking at how children handle their emotions about divorce and what resources children have to understand their emotions.


Lansford, J. E. (2009). Parental Divorce and Children’s Adjustment. Perspectives of

            Psychological Science, 4, 140-149.


Academic achievement paired with divorce seems to bring about problems for children. Eventually children of divorced parents begin to experience negative developmental outcomes. Children seem to be struggling instead on thriving based on the time of the divorce and age of the child. Also based on the child’s attractiveness within school and personal relationships dictates whether the child can cope with their parent’s divorce. It seems that the more money the physical custody parent has or receives from alimony plays a big role in the child’s schooling, and therefore the child’s academic achievement.




Lundberg, S., & Pollak, R. A. (2015, Fall). The Evolving Role of Marriage: 1950-2010. The          Future of Children, 25, 29-50.


The way parents decide to raise their children has changed drastically over the years. More educated parents tend to spend more time and money on their children than less educated parents. What a parent spends on their children rises much quicker the older they get, especially education cost. Basically, if parents with a low income status do not receive any incentive from higher education for their children, the likelihood of them staying married decreases substantially. The benefits of marriage is smaller when the parents are in a lower income bracket. Therefore, in order for parents to invest more time and money into their children they must have a higher income status combined, or a joint investment.


“Behavioral and Emotional Development in Children of Divorce”

Authors: Lephodisa Molepo, Tholene Sodi, and Pilot Mudhovozi

Source: Journal of Psychology in Africa. 2012, Vol. 22 Issue 2, p251-254. 4p.



This Article discusses how children are affected by their parents’ divorce, not only emotionally, but academically as well. This study reports on teacher’s perceptions of the impact of parental divorce on the students. The teachers noticed in their classrooms that younger children showed a greater sense of self-blame and acting out. The girls of parental divorce were less likely to isolate themselves with the other children. It is also known that the child’s academics may decrease by dealing with the divorce. I think this is important for our project because it talks about how children of divorce are affected academically and how they behave in the classrooms compared to the other children. The teacher’s perceptions tend to be right, and last a lifetime. This article also talks about the differences in gender and age, and also compares children of divorced families, and intact families.


Pedro-Carroll, and JoAnne L. Sutton. “A Two-Yer Follow-Up Evaluation Of A Preventive Intervention For Young Children Of Divorce.” School Psychology Review 28.3 (1999): 467. Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.


The Children of Divorce Intervention Program (CODIP) is a school-based, preventive intervention program. The CODIP had five fundamental objectives: foster a supportive group environment; facilitate identification and appropriate expression of divorce-related feelings; promote understanding of divorce-related concepts and encourage exploration and clarification of divorce-related misconceptions; teach relevant competencies such as communication and problem-solving skills; and enhance children’s perceptions of themselves and their families. Program outcomes were assessed by teachers, parents, and children. In our research project we be looking for programs in Omaha that help children with their understanding of divorce.



Poortman, Anne-Rigt, and Judith A. Seltzer. “Parents Expectations About Childrearing After Divorce: Does Anticipating Difficulty Deter Divorce?” Journal of Marriage and Family 69.1 (2007): 254-69. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.


This article focuses more on the effects divorce has on parents, rather than the effects divorce has on youth. The article is very interesting because it explains how there are many factors that go in to eventually deciding whether two partners want to divorce or not. Many things can deter divorce, like economic security of parents after they split. Sometimes these factors prevent the decision of divorce which is very important when you are talking about the effects these mountainous decisions later have on the children who have zero say.


This article is important because it displays that sometimes parents will not decide to get divorced for a number of reasons. The choice not to get divorced may have a lasting impact of the children of that family because they will continue to live under a roof where their parents do not get along, fight, and are unhappy in their marriage. Since we are researching the array of accommodations Omaha has for children’s of divorced families, the evidence provided in this article brings up the fact that in our research topic we are not accounting for children who live under a roof where the two parents often conflict, and in these cases it may be better for the child if the parents were in fact divorced removing the conflict the child experiences day to day.


Potter, Daniel. “Psychosocial Well-Being and the Relationship Between Divorce and Children’s Academic Achievement.” Journal of Marriage and Family 72.4 (2010): 933-46. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.


This article suggests that divorce is associated with diminished psychological well-being in children, and that this decrease helps explain the connection between divorce, and lower academic achievement. It also looks at the changes in economic resources, parenting practices, and child’s psychological well-being that each help explain the impact divorce has on children. The article also shows how academic performances were prior to divorce, and how they were after divorce.


Out of the four articles examined, this may be the most important to our research topic because it tells us how divorce usually acts negatively towards the learning capabilities of a child. This is important, especially to our city, because a healthy city fosters younger learners, who will later develop their academic skills to hopefully help make the city more progressive, and a healthy and well educated society overall.  In our research of how Omaha accommodates children of divorced parents the fact of academic achievement will play heavily into how Omaha accommodates that specific factor children face when their parents’ divorce.









“The Cost of Raising a Special Needs Child after Divorce”

Authors: Margaret Price, and Ponzio Olivero

Source: American Journal of Family Law. Spring2016, Vol. 30 Issue 1, p25-31. 7p.
 This article talks about the extra challenges that parents have to go through with disabled children after the divorce. It not only covers the emotional struggles, but the extra costs that are involved. Divorce is very expensive, but so is having to raise a child with special needs. It is said that most parents of special needs children are single parents. This is difficult because that would require the caregiver to work extra shifts, and that means the child will need more child care and that is less time caring for the child. Disabled children require constant care, which is even more added stress on the parent. This article talks about all of the needs and equipment and therapy that a child with special needs will require. It also mentions all of the extra costs that could come along, that are not included in the child support. The condition of the child could also worsen during the divorce process, and after the divorce, and the costs of this happening usually aren’t included in the case. I think this article is important for our research project because it shows diversity in our study, and shows that divorce doesn’t just affect children who are not disabled. It also covers problems such as extra costs and conditions that parents divorcing with a normal child won’t even think of.


Richardson, C. D., & Rosen, L. A. (1999, October). School-Based Interventions for Children of    Divorce. Professional School Counseling, 3(1).

Interventions for children in a time of need, when their family structure is crumbling, is extremely important. Generally, friends and family flock in times of crisis, but when it comes to divorce it seems that everyone runs the opposite direction. Even though the parents may feel neglected there is no reason that a child should. The divorce is never the child’s fault, even though most of them believe it is something they did. As long as someone is there for the children, specifically within the academic setting, they should be able to cope especially because that is the place children spend most of their time.


Simons, M., Dr, & Parker, R. (2002, Summer). Relationship education services. Family Matters,   63, 77-79.


Australia has a service known as “relationship education” that was designed to help enhance relationships. Although the United States does not have these services in schools and churches, they should seriously be considered. Different community based programs are available for a wide range of relationship, most specifically children and parents. Schools are addressing relationship issues with this program while they are learning how to help with the underlying issues within families and their children because of divorce. Evaluation processes would greatly reduce the chance of children’s feelings being left out of a divorce if we implemented a relationship program within our community.


Yauman, Beth E. “School-Based Group Counseling For Children Of Divorce: A..” Elementary School Guidance & Counseling 26.2 (1991): 130. Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.


A group of children with ages ranging 11-13 took part in this study. The purpose was to evaluate the effects of divorce on children, with regards to substance abuse, self-esteem, and other mental issues. The children were put into intervention groups and taught about alcohol abuse, self-esteem, and problem solving. The study found that children in the intervention group improved in the areas of problem-focused coping behavior, self-esteem, anxiety, antisocial behavior, and substance use. In our research project we will look for intervention programs that help children of divorce in Omaha with these issues.


Stacy L. Sinclar & Eileen S. Nelson “The Importance of Parental Divorce on College Student’s Intimate Relationships and Relationship Beliefs”

Source: Journal of Divorce & Remarriage. Jul1998, Vol. 29 Issue 1/2, p103-129. 27p.


This article discusses how parental divorce affects college students not only emotionally, but also with their own relationships with others. When it comes to relationships, they tend to be afraid of commitment and are afraid of the thought of marriage. They tend to have many casual encounters instead of a serious relationship. They are afraid to repeat their parent’s marriage mistakes. It also discusses how the different genders handle the divorce. It is said that females are more likely to have more problems in life, while males improve as time goes on. It is said it is best for the parents to be committed to the child’s successful development and well-being. Divorce causes a sense of instability, which makes the child feel vulnerable. This article is important for our project because it discusses how divorce can affect older children, and their parent’s relationship can affect their own personal relationships, and how they fear the cycle will repeat itself.