Numerous longitudinal studies that have been following children over the past 20 years and more are showing a dark and difficult picture of divorced children, with long-term adverse effects lasting well into adulthood.

  • One million American children experience divorce every year.
  • Single parent families increased from 13% of the U.S. family population in 1970 to 31% in 1994.
  • 56% of divorced children had no contact whatsoever with their fathers in the first year after divorce, and 23% had no contact after five years.
  • Divorced children had the deepest feelings of anger, fear, and rejection of any childhood group, and were three times as likely to receive professional help as kids from intact families.
  • Suicide rates for teenage males increased 557% from 1946 to 1988. The single best predictor of teen suicide was parental divorce and living in a single parent household.
  • Rates of depression, low self-esteem, drug and alcohol abuse, and juvenile delinquency were all significantly higher for children of divorce.
  • Divorced children drop out of school at twice the rate of children from intact families. They were twice as likely to be suspended or expelled from school, and consistently showed lower test scores, lower grades, and more placement in special and remedial classes.
  • Early sexual behavior was more frequent among divorced children.
  • Divorced children were far more likely to cohabit and not marry.

Using an analogy to medicine and the FDA, the authors point out thatphysicians are required by law to inform patients if a drug has a major side effect in just 1% of cases. Shouldn’t counselors, in line with our duty to informed consent, outline the myriad harms of divorce to those we counsel who are seeking one?