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25 Children of Divorce Statistics & Facts: 2024 Insights

Discover the lifelong impact of divorce on children, from infancy to adulthood.

Approximately 50 percent of children experience their parents’ divorce (source). Unfortunately, this pivotal event can significantly influence their emotional and academic development.

If you are keen to understand more about the effect divorce has on children, I’ve compiled 25 interesting children of divorce statistics and facts.

After researching government findings and official studies, you’ll gain insight into worldwide divorce rate percentages; the impact divorce has on a child’s well-being, and the long-term effects.

Key Facts About Children of Divorced Parents

For a quick overview, here are five key statistics and facts about children of divorced parents.

  1. The divorce rate per 1,000 people in the U.S. is 2.5; the divorce rate in Vietnam per 1,000 people is 0.2
  2. Children with divorced parents are more likely to abuse substances and suffer from depression.
  3. Children of divorced parents often worry that their parents will stop loving them as well.
  4. Children between six and 11 were more likely to feel at fault for the divorce.
  5. Children of divorce find it challenging to form long-term friendships.

25 Statistics and Facts About Children of Divorce

Divorce is common, and it has long-lasting effects, especially on children. Below are 25 facts about kids with divorced parents, facts about divorce rates, and the long-term impacts of divorce.

Divorce Rates In the World

Explore global trends in divorce rates, understanding how divorce affects children in the U.S. and beyond.

  1. Divorce rates in the US: The U.S. divorce rates are falling. In 2021, the rate was 2.5 per 1,000 people, accounting for 689,308 divorces (1). In 2000, the rate was 4 per 1,000 people. Around 50 percent of children will see their parents get divorced at some point in their life.
  2. Divorce rates in Canada: The divorce rate in Canada, as of 2020, was 5.6 per 1,000 married people (2). This was down from 12.7 in 1991.
  3. Divorce rates in Mexico: Divorce rates in Mexico were very low as of 2020, with 0.7 per 1,000 people (3).
  4. High divorce rates in the Maldives: The divorce rate in the Maldives is 5.52 per 1,000 people, one of the highest in the world (4). Russia follows in third place with 3.9 per 1,000 people.
  5. Vietnam divorce rates: Vietnam has one of the lowest divorce rates in the world, along with Sri Lanka and Peru, with 0.2 per 1,000 people (5).
  6. Divorce rates by years of marriage: In the U.S., 20 percent of marriages end within five years (6). Thirty-two percent end in the first 10 years. The average length of a first marriage when couples divorce is eight years (7).

Impact on a Child’s Wellbeing

In the U.S., about 50 percent of children will see their parents get divorced, whether that’s during childhood or later in life. Divorce can have a range of adverse effects on a child’s well-being, including their psychological, emotional, and academic state. Below are seven ways a broken family can affect a child and their characteristics.

  1. Increased adolescent adjustment issues: Children with divorced parents have a more difficult time with academia, including getting lower grades or dropping out of school (8). They’re also more likely to show disruptive behaviors, including substance abuse and depression.
  2. No obvious psychological problems: The National Library of Medicine’s psychology study found no obvious psychological problems in most children with divorced parents. However, children with no psychological issues still reported worrying about events where both parents would be in attendance. On that note, many studies counteract this study’s findings.
  3. The worry of conditional love: Children of divorced parents often worry that if their parents stop loving each other, they will also stop loving their children (9).
  4. Children lose time with both parents: When a couple divorces, their children ultimately get to spend less time with each parent. Most kids spend less time with their fathers, but the mother may also need to work longer hours, resulting in the children spending less time with her, too (10).
  5. Children lose economic security: Custodial mothers may lose up to 50 percent of their income upon divorcing their partner. Children living with custodial mothers who have lost income are more likely to live in poverty than children who still live with married parents.
  6. Children lose interest in socializing: Children of divorce struggle with social activities and relating to others. They feel isolated and may struggle to make friends.
  7. Stress associated with divorce: Divorce can bring about a lot of changes for a couple and their child. The child may need to switch schools, relocate to a new home, and adapt to living with a single parent who is likely under a lot of stress. This can cause significant stress and anxiety for the child.

Divorce Impact By Age

Examine how divorce impacts children at different ages, from the unique perspectives of toddlers to teenagers.

  1. Impact on infants: You might be surprised to know that even infants — zero to 18 months — are impacted by divorce. Babies can sense anxiety and stress, causing them to become unsettled and clingy (11). They may even have developmental delays. Babies who have regular overnight visits with a second parent have more attachment insecurity, anxiety, and less trust in caregivers in later childhood.
  2. Toddlers are unsettled when reuniting with mothers: Toddlers who spent overnights between separated parents as infants were more anxious, unsettled, and angry when they reunited with their mothers (12). The risk also increases if parental conflict and poor communication between parents are factors.
  3. Two to seven-year-olds maternal attachment: A study found that 57 percent of children aged two to seven who spent at least two nights per week away from their mothers had an insecure attachment with them. Only 31 percent of children from non-divorced families had this same insecure attachment.
  4. Divorce impact on school-age children: A study of children aged six to 11 found that children were more likely to feel that they were to blame for their parent’s divorce. This age group may also blame one parent for the separation and even take sides.
  5. School-age children may struggle with schoolwork: Older children may feel extremely sad and grief-stricken (13). This can cause a problem with both schoolwork and behavioral issues.
  6. The impact on teenagers: While teenagers may understand their parents’ divorce a bit better, they still experience significant distress (14). Some might feel depressed and even blame themselves. Others may blame one parent or both, feeling abandoned by one or both.

Long-Term Impacts of Divorce

We’ve looked at how divorce impacts various ages as it happens. But what about the lasting effects of divorce? Are there positive effects as well as negative effects?

How does a parental breakup impact a child’s future? Here are seven interesting facts.

  1. Children of divorce view their childhood with sadness: A study that followed children of divorce for 25 years found that children of divorced parents viewed their childhood with sadness, reflecting on moments of anger and the longing to be taken care of (15).
  2. Some children of divorce mature faster: A study found that children with divorced parents who gain a healthy distance from a disturbed parent show quicker maturity and independence (16). They may also develop a higher value on lasting relationships, love, fidelity, and compassion.
  3. Social difficulties in children of divorce: Children with divorced parents may find it challenging to form long-term friendships with others (17). They may also struggle to resolve conflict.
  4. Likelihood of experiencing long-term emotional difficulties: The American Association for Marriage and Family found that 25 percent of children of divorced parents struggled with ongoing emotional and behavioral challenges (18). This was compared to 10 percent of children whose parents remained married.
  5. Increased risk of mental illness: Children with divorced parents are more likely to develop mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression (19).
  6. Divorce affects children’s future romantic relationships: Research has found that children of divorce have a harder time with romantic relationships. Due to their experience with divorce, kids can grow up with trust and commitment issues. The divorce rate is actually higher for children of divorce.

How To Support Children During a Divorce

The average age of a child at the time of divorce is between six and seven years old (20).

It is crucial that parents support their child through a divorce. Divorce can have a massive impact on children, no matter their age, but good support can make all the difference. Here are six things you can do to support a child through becoming part of a single-parent family, whether it’s your own, a family member, or a friend’s child:

  • Explain the divorce simply: When letting your child know about the divorce, sit down together and relay the information in a simple, straightforward, and child-friendly way. Do not disagree on the reasonings or fight about the divorce in front of your child.
  • Avoid conflict in front of your child: Off the back of that last point, don’t let your children, even preschoolers, see the conflict. Heated discussions and arguing can be traumatizing for young children, especially surrounding custody battles.
  • Open up the conversation: Ask your child how they feel, listen to their answers, and respect what they have to say. They might be angry, unhappy, or even blame one of the parents, but it’s crucial that they have their feelings heard and validated.
  • Keep familiar routines: Humans, especially children, are creatures of habit. Routines allow a child to feel secure and safe, so try to keep routines in place. Keep the same bedtime routine (don’t introduce co-sleeping even though your child is feeling sad), do nice things on the weekend, and slowly introduce new routines as you transition into a new normal.
  • Create a support system: Put together a support system for you and your child. Get family to help with your child, or find charities and organizations to support you.
  • Tell the child you love them: Many children feel unloved during a divorce. They wonder if their parents might stop loving them or if they were the reason for the divorce. It’s crucial that you regularly remind your child that you love them.


At What Age Does Divorce Affect Children the Most?

The worst age for divorce is roughly between five and 13 years old (21). Among this age range, 11-year-olds are the most vulnerable to emotional trauma. Since children are going through puberty at this age and naturally are more self-centered, the divorce can feel like a personal attack.

How Does Having Divorced Parents Affect Your Marriage?

Different studies say different things. While some people may have a more conservative and moral view of marriage, others don’t. One study found that children with divorced parents have a more negative view of marriage as an institution (22). They can be more pessimistic about the possibility of long-term, happy, and healthy marriages.

A study found that if a woman was a child of divorced parents, she was 69 percent more likely to get divorced (23). If both partners were children of divorce, their risk of divorce increased by 189 percent.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a Scottish freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. She is a mum to a young boy, and believes that it truly takes a village. When she’s not parenting, writing about parenting, or working, she can be found reading, working on her novel, taking photos, playing board games or wandering through the countryside with her family.