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The Effects Of Divorce On Children’s Education

If you are a parent who has been considering divorce, you have probably also been wondering about how divorce might affect your children. Many parents worry about their child’s emotional and mental well-being when considering divorce. Have you thought about the effects of divorce on children’s education? Unfortunately, some children suffer a significant decline in academic performance when their parents divorce. Depending on the child’s age, this impact may change their educational path completely. If you are considering a divorce in the Denver area, the experienced family law attorneys with Colorado Divorce Law Group may be able to help. Schedule your consultation by calling (720) 593-6442 to discuss your legal options.

Do Kids With Divorced Parents Have a Harder Time in School?

Because divorce is a social situation and not something that can be researched experimentally, there is no way to be certain about all of the effects of divorce on children’s education, or any other aspect of their lives. However, there are some observational studies that help to suggest the possible impacts divorce can have on a child’s education.

According to Marripedia, the results of these studies include:

  • Children whose parents are divorced are likely to have a lower grade point average (GPA) than their peers, and more likely than their peers to be held back a grade
  • Small children and young adolescents are more likely to suffer long-term negative effects than older teens
  • Children whose parents divorce was unilateral (initiated by one parent without the other’s consent) tend to have less education by adulthood
  • While the parents are divorcing, children may have lower educational dreams and goals and test scores

Why Does Divorce Affect Children’s Academic Performance?

Some children see significant impacts on their academic performance when their parents get a divorce. Others see little to no impact on their academic performance. No one is able to explain why the effects of divorce on children’s education are more detrimental for some children than others, due to difficulty in studying the phenomenon. Researchers do have a few factors that they have been able to causally link to divorce and its impact on children’s education.

Changes in Family Income

As their parents divorce, a child often goes from living in a two-income home to having two, single-income homes. The National Library of Medicine indicates that the drop in income each parent experiences by losing their spouse’s income impacts the home, neighborhood, school environment, and ability to procure educational goods and resources. The change in family income also affects the child’s health and emotional well-being. Finally, the lost family income is directly connected to the parent’s ability to pay for college. This factor accounts for approximately half of the effect of divorce on a child’s education.

The financial constraints associated with splitting a two-income household with shared expenses into two single-income households, each with its own expenses, all translate into less money spent on the child’s education. This may mean that a child is pulled from a rigorous private school and placed in a typical public school, or that the child is enrolled in a lower-quality public school because of moving to a new neighborhood. Less money being put into their education can also be as simple as their parents being unable to afford supplies required for homework assignments or to pay for educational field trips or other academic materials or events that might further the child’s education. If you are concerned about getting child or spousal support to help care for your children after divorce, Colorado Divorce Law Group may be able to assist you.

Family Instability

Divorce makes relationship transitions more likely to occur in a child’s life due to parents potentially dating, remarrying, and divorcing. According to the National Register of Health Service Psychologists, 65% of second marriages also end in divorce, which means the dating, remarrying, and divorcing cycle may continue. These relationship transitions impact parenting stress levels, raising them and sometimes causing lower-quality parent-child relationships.

When children do not feel a strong connection with their parents, this can cause them to have lower academic achievements. This may be due to less interest in and less assistance with education, as well as the feelings of anxiety or malaise associated with the lack of connection with their parents.

Psychosocial Skills

Psychosocial skills develop, change, and evolve from early childhood, through adolescence and into early adulthood. These mental habits, such as emotional stability, conscientiousness, self-esteem, behavior, locus of control, and self-esteem, are impacted by many factors. Depending on the child’s age when the divorce occurs, divorce may cause these psychosocial skills to decline.

Cognitive Skills

Cognitive skills encompass the ability to process, store, and extract information. These skills include attention, memory, and the ability to reason. Cognitive skills typically stabilize after early childhood. This means that a young child’s cognitive skills may be impacted by their parent’s divorce, while older children and teens may not see their cognitive skills change.

How Does Divorce Affect a Child’s Education?

There is no way to be certain of the effects of divorce on children’s education. Each child is unique, as is each divorce, and the relationships between the children and parents are similarly diverse. Even children in the same family may see different effects on their education from their parents’ divorce.

However, studies have shown that children whose parents are divorced are:

  • More likely than their peers to behave disruptively in school (disobey the teacher, act aggressively toward other students)
  • Less likely than their peers to care about doing well in school and less positively engaged in school
  • More likely than other members of their age group to skip class, drop out of school, get suspended or expelled
  • Less likely than their peers to attend college

One reason that some children may experience these effects is that trying to understand the changing family dynamics may cause them to be distracted. They may also be confused. This distraction or confusion may make them unable to focus on schoolwork.

What Are 4 Effects of Divorce on Children?

Aside from the effects of divorce on children’s education, there are other effects that divorce can have on children. These effects are not specifically education-related, but they may also contribute to a child’s academic struggles after divorce.

Loss of Interest in Social Activity

Children whose parents are divorcing or have divorced may struggle to relate to others. They may have fewer social contacts and feel insecure about their relationships with others. They may also wonder if their family is the only one to have gotten divorced, feel embarrassed or guilty, or struggle in other ways to engage in and enjoy social activities.

Difficulty Adapting to Change

After divorce, children often have to adapt to change that occurs more frequently or often than it does for children of intact families. They must adapt to new family dynamics, new homes or living situations (such as stepparents or stepsiblings), schools, friends, and other changes. While it may seem like dealing with all these changes would make the child more adaptable to change, the opposite may be true.

Healthychildren.org indicates that children may be more resilient and less stressed when their parents engage in less conflict. The organization also says that divorce can decrease the high amount of conflict often found in pre-divorce families. This suggests that parents who shield their child from their fighting may be able to help their children avoid this effect.

Emotional Sensitivity

Divorce may leave children feeling overwhelmed and emotionally sensitive as they attempt to navigate the strong and confusing feelings that come with the changing family dynamic. Children may struggle with feelings of loss, confusion, anxiety, anger, and many other intense, often negative feelings. They may also struggle with feeling relief, happiness, or contentment if the divorce has brought a new sense of peace into the home. Parents can help their children with this emotional sensitivity by ensuring the child has an outlet for their emotions, such as a therapist or counselor to talk to.

Increased Health Problems

Marripedia indicates that children of divorced parents may have increased health problems. They may be at higher risk of common illnesses and injuries, as well as a higher chance of asthma, asthma-related emergencies, and cancer.

The Mayo Clinic indicates these increased health problems may be partially due to a reduced immune system due to difficulty sleeping. Parents should also remain alert for signs of depression and other indications of their child’s deteriorating health.

Are You Considering Divorce but Worried About Your Children?

Divorce is rarely an easy decision. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict the effects of divorce on children’s education in all cases. However, there are things that you can do to help lessen the potentially negative impacts of divorce on your children. Perhaps the most important thing you can do is ensure that your child knows that you and your spouse still love them and are there for them. If you have concluded that divorce will be best for you, your spouse, and your children, and are ready to move forward, it may help to work with a family law attorney who understands your parental concerns about getting a divorce with children. If you are in Littleton, Northern Colorado, or Mountain Counties, call Colorado Divorce Law Group at (720) 593-6442 to learn more about your legal options.