Psychological Points Throughout Divorce: It’s Difficult

Divorce and / or permanent separation are inevitably disruptive to all members of the family unit. The living conditions and financial regulations are changed. Often times, supportive relationships with family and friends shift.

For children, the end of parental relationships can mean reduced parental income to support them and disrupt peer-to-peer relationships due to changes in place of residence and school. It is not uncommon for children to lose focus on academics or exercise when their home circumstances have changed significantly. Even when change is positive, it can be a burden on children as changes require adjustments. Simply put, it’s stressful for everyone.

Spouse abuse can be part of the motivation for divorce. This can affect both the type of adult follow-up and the parent-child relationship. Abuse is a negative complication of a positive post-relationship for both adults and children. Negative outcomes are also more likely when there is significant mental illness and substance abuse. Courts often use the help of professionals to assess the effects of abuse, mental illness and / or substance abuse on children.

It is important to try to isolate children from stressors both during the divorce process and during the after-relationship. Children should not be advised or advised of spousal conflicts and deficiencies, legal process or strategy, settlement issues, and even court appointments. These issues are beyond a child’s ability to process and can divert attention from normal child development. Failure to protect children from such stressors can – depending on their age – cause them to regress, show isolating behavior and sadness, become more irritable and disturbing, or show symptoms of fatigue or sleep disorders.

Typical custody provisions are final. Families move forward with their changing circumstances and use court orders as guidelines. Continued legal involvement is usually not required. However, sometimes circumstances change and changes are required. This may require a return to judicial involvement. Sometimes changing custody arrangements is less difficult than making the initial custody decision, although that may depend on how life circumstances have changed. All of these factors can create many psychological problems for parents and children.

Psychological Problems During Divorce

The effects of adjustments on adults and children in controversial custody situations are predominantly psychological and social, depending on the specific changes. Examples of possible adaptation areas are who is living with whom, how often the children see each parent, and what experiences they have with each parent under the new circumstances. The post-divorce effects on children depend to a large extent on the feelings and behavior of adults. Parents who remain bitter about the broken relationship are more likely to have a negative impact on their children.

In general, the longer and more intense the conflict observed by the children, the higher the likelihood of persistent problems. Parents who are sensible to each other and who can work together after the divorce are more likely to make it easier for their children to adapt positively to new circumstances.

The nature of the relationship between children and parents prior to the separation is also typically related to the quality of adjustment between parents and children after the divorce. The continuity of a positive relationship is an essential indicator of good adjustment, although the divorce process can be disruptive.

Another very important aspect of adapting children after divorce is the degree to which both parents are committed to the importance of children and their developmental and emotional needs.

Carpe Diem

It appears that a primary goal of parent-child relationships after divorce is to require adequate parental leave. There is probably no magic in brief but intense parent-child contact after a divorce. To some extent, the quality of time necessarily includes an amount of time. Regularity of contact and predictability of contact are also important.

It is also helpful to have both parents involved in routine and repetitive events despite their different life circumstances, if possible. Examples include parents attending school and other extracurricular events together, medical care, meeting and familiarity with the children’s friends, extended family involvement of the children with both sides of the family, sharing holiday or birthday dinners, and making arrangements about waking up and bedtime patterns and rituals. The commitment and persistence of both parents ensure a healthy structure for the child. This requires maturity and the elimination of differences between both parents.

Moving from one household to another is stressful for most children as these changes are made on a timeline set by adults – not the children themselves. It is not uncommon for a child to show signs of excitement or reluctance shows leaving one household for another until protests with sadness, anger, or tears.

It is also not uncommon for a child entering the other household to show signs of withdrawal, isolation, and reluctance to reconnect with the other parent. This pattern can be repeated during transitional periods, even if both parents are trying to do their best. Such reactions from children do not mean that the arrangement is bad. This is not necessarily an indication that any household is not doing well. Children just need time to adapt.

The adjustment period is important, regardless of whether parent-child co-parental leave is frequent or whether it is less frequent due to a parent moving. Parents don’t always follow exactly the same rules in both households, which is part of stressing children and another reason they need time to adjust. However, it is important that the parents’ expectations match between the two households as closely as possible.

More research needs to be done to better understand the characteristics of positive parent-child relationships. In this context, it is important that both parents focus on the well-being of their children.

By definition, time passes and time is limited – the children are getting older and there is less parent-child time, as the time is now divided between the parents. As the saying goes: “Seize the day!” Enjoy your time with your child.


Divorce – or custody disputes when a illegitimate agreement ends – means countless changes that are stressful for both parents and children. Parents can do a lot to make the process easier for children, keep them safe from the messy parts for adults, and make the inevitable disruptions in households and everyday life as comfortable as possible.

Psychological Problems: Book Cover On Custody, A Complete Parent GuideThis article was edited and extracted from Custody: A Complete Parent’s Guide by Family attorney Henry S. Gornbein, Esq. And Jack P. Haynes, Ph.D., is a distinguished and highly regarded psychologist with over 40 years of forensic psychological experience.

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