Getting A Divorce: The Effects on Children And Their Future Relationships

2017-03-02 09:52:32

Divorce affects everyone, not just the two people involved. Studies have been done how marriage breakdown impacts the children of marriage and their future relationships. Here are just some of the ways divorce affects the family.

  1. Trust
    When a child’s parents get divorced, dating and romance seems more difficult for the child as he or she reaches adulthood. Compared to women from intact families, those from divorced families reported having less satisfaction and trust in their relationships. There’s more fear of rejection, and the lack of trust they experience can prevent a deepening of the relationship.
  2. Hesitancy Toward Marriage
    People raised in divorced families tend to have more negative attitudes towards marriage and more positive attitudes towards divorce. Adult men whose parents divorced show more ambivalence about becoming involved in a relationship compared to men from intact families. Women are the same, and show a lack of faith in their partner’s benevolence, and experience more doubt and conflict compared to women whose parents remained married.
  3. Divorce Acceptance
    Children of divorced parents, as compared to children of married parents, show more of a positive attitude towards divorce. One study showed that adolescents who witnessed their parents’ divorce and remarriage are less likely to feel that marriage is permanent, and are less likely to want a lifelong marital commitment. They are also more likely to think positively of cohabiting vs marriage.

    These negative attitudes last for a long time, too: one study showed that the kids of divorced parents still worried about their chances of a happy marriage even 10 years after their parents divorced.
  4. Likelihood to Marry or Divorce
    Boys from divorced families with less educated moms are more likely to forego marriage. On top of that, kids from divorced families are more likely to get divorced themselves. They are almost twice as more likely to divorce compared to those from intact families.

    Children of divorced parents are 39 percent more likely to get married to other children of divorce. When people marry, if one of the spouses comes from a divorced home, they are almost twice as likely to get divorced compared to couples from intact homes. When both spouses in a married couple come from divorced homes, the chances of them divorcing are more than there times higher compared to couples with both spouses from intact families.
  5. Expectations to Marry or Divorce
    Children from step families, single parents, or divorced parents are less likely to expect to eventually marry. Those who went through their parents’ divorce are more likely to inexpert their own divorce compared to kids from intact families. Kids from divorced families also seem to prefer smaller family sizes and have more negative attitudes towards marriage in general.
  6. Marital Behaviour
    Children who have an available father both as a young child and as an older adolescent, are more likely to be responsible and companionable when they grow up. Boys who are close to their fathers have better views on intimacy and their own married lives compared to those who didn’t have close relationships with their own fathers.

    Children of divorced families tend to have lower marital quality. They argue more about the family and have higher rates of excessive drinking, drug use, infidelity, moodiness, jealousy, and conflicts over money.
  7. Cohabiting
    Children from divorced parents, compared to children from intact families, are more lily to think more positively about cohabiting and more negatively about marriage. When the children grow up and leave home, they are two to three times more likely to live with a romantic partner, and to do so earlier, especially if their parents got divorced during their teen years.


Susan E. Jacquet and Catherine A. Surra, “Parental Divorce and Premarital Couples: Commitment and Other Relationship Characteristics,” Journal of Marriage and Family 63, (2001): 634.

Stacy G. Johnston and Amanda M. Thomas, “Divorce versus Intact Parental Marriage and Perceived Risk and Dyadic Trust in Present Heterosexual Relationships,” Psychological Reports 78, (1996): 387-390.

Daniel J. Weigel, “Parental Divorce and the Types of Commitment-Related Messages People Gain from Their Families of Origin,” Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 47, (2007): 23.

Department of Health and Human Services, Changes in Marriage and Fertility Behavior: Behavior versus Attitudes of Young Adults Kristin A. Moore and Thomas M. Stief, (Child Trends, Inc., July 1989).

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