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Children and Divorce: Which Age Group Is Most Affected by a Parent's Divorce?

Posted on in Children of divorce

Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce attorneyA parent's divorce can take a toll on any child. How a parent's divorce affects a child depends on numerous factors, such as the level of conflict in the marriage before the divorce, the child's relationship with each parent, how drastically the child's lifestyle changes following the divorce, and the child's personality. Some children are more easily upset by conflict in their homes than others. One factor that can play into how a child is affected by his or her parents' divorce is the child's age. At different developmental stages, a child can understand and process the effects of a divorce in different ways.

It is a myth that divorce affects one age group more profoundly than others. The truth is, divorce affects all members of a family, but it can affect children and adolescents in specific ways based on their ages.

Infants and Toddlers

Babies can pick up on the tension between their parents, even if they cannot understand the reason for the tension. Infants who live in high-tension environments can exhibit signs of emotional instability and experience delayed development.

Routine is very important for toddlers. Between the ages of 18 months and 3-years-old, a disruption to a toddler's home or routine can cause him or her to become very upset and become very clingy. A toddler might refuse to sleep in his or her own bed, resist toilet training, or regress to earlier behaviors.

School-Age Children

Younger school-age children, those between 3 and 6 years of age, can easily become fearful about their current and future stability when facing their parents' divorce. In this stage, children think concretely, which can cause the child to fixate on the breakdown of his or her family and suffer from nightmares or anger issues.

Older children can think more abstractly and see their parents as flawed individuals more easily, which can cause a child to place the blame for the divorce on one parent. A child might also feel like the divorce is a personal offense to him or her, which can cause the child to lash out against the parents or become anxious and withdrawn.


Adolescents often experience the stresses that younger children experience when their parents divorce, but can and often do express this stress in more profound ways. For example, an adolescent might start engaging in risky behavior like experimenting with drugs or promiscuous sex. He or she might also pull away from the parents in an attempt to appear stoic and unaffected.

Grown Children

With a grown child, the dynamics are a lot different. An adult has the capacity to view his or her parents' divorce objectively, but this does not mean that it cannot make him or her sad or stressed about his or her future relationship with each parent, especially as new spouses, stepchildren, and grandchildren enter the picture.

Work with an Experienced Kane County Divorce Lawyer

If you are considering filing for divorce, work with a member of our team of experienced Kane County divorce lawyers at The Goostree Law Group to make the process as straightforward and pain-free as possible for every member of your family. Contact our firm today to schedule your free legal consultation with us.



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