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The Impact of Divorce and Repartnering on Child Development: A Literature Review

The Impact of Divorce and Repartnering on Child Development: A Literature Review


Divorce and repartnering are now more commonplace in many western societies than ever, leading to significant shifts in how parenting is handled after a separation or divorce. This shift from traditional single-parent models has resulted in more joint physical custody arrangements, which involve parents spending at least 25-50% of the time with their child post-separation or divorce (Nomaguchi and Milkie, 2020). While this arrangement may positively affect the well-being of children and parents, there is still much debate about the potential risks and benefits associated with joint physical custody. The essay summarizes recent studies focusing on understanding the impacts of parents’ divorce and re-partnering on child development skills and relationships. By exploring how different parenting practices associated with divorce and re-partnering can impact child development and how it can shape parents’ well-being.

Literature Review

Short-Term Effects Of Parental Divorce

Liu’s (2022) study found that parental divorce causes negative depression in their children. It is also important to note that the factors behind depression due to parental divorce are multifactorial. In addition, parental divorce can influence the child’s social and communication skills and ability to manage emotions, which can have further implications on their relationships with others. Furthermore, the study suggests that more attention should be paid to children from divorced families to improve their mental health. To do this, it is essential for parents, educators, and healthcare professionals to provide these children with a supportive and understanding environment in which they can express themselves. Thus, the study is beneficial since it provides evidence that parental divorce has short- and long-term consequences on child development. A better understanding of how parental divorce affects children can help practitioners develop strategies for supporting affected children. However, Liu’s study does not elaborate on the strategy that may be useful for addressing any potential deficits resulting from parental divorce. While understanding the negative impact of divorce on a child’s development is essential, providing support and guidance through evidence-based interventions may be necessary to ensure their growth and well-being. Finally, further research into other variables affecting child development, such as genetics, family dynamics, and socioeconomics, could help researchers understand how parental divorce impacts childhood growth and development.

Long-Term Effects Of Parental Divorce

According to Steinbach’s (2019)research, joint physical custody can positively affect both the child and the parent. This suggests that a family can remain relatively functional after a divorce. However, it is essential to note that the studies conducted were limited in scope; they were conducted primarily in North America, Australia, and Europe. Most samples comprised highly educated parents with high socioeconomic status and low conflict levels. This means that the results may only apply to some families. For joint physical custody arrangements to be successful, parents must maintain healthy communication and collaboration regarding their child. It is also essential for the parents to recognize and respect each other’s role in their child’s life. In addition, the parents must ensure that their child has enough time with both parents so they do not feel neglected. The study is beneficial for the research since there is still much debate concerning the effects of joint physical custody (JPC) on children’s well-being and development. It provides evidence that JPC arrangements benefit children and parents when appropriately managed. While the results indicate that JPC is beneficial, this does not necessarily mean that JPC should be encouraged as an ideal arrangement after a divorce or separation. The limitations of Steinbach’s study include that the research was primarily focused on middle-class, highly educated couples and did not consider situations such as poverty or mental health issues, which could significantly impact the success of joint physical custody arrangements.

Champion’s (2022) paper emphasizes the significance of a parent’s behavior regarding their child’s development. Studies have found that when parents use negative behavior as a means of control, children are more likely to display defiance. It is essential to consider the long-term effects of such parenting, as it can lead to children developing a heightened sense of fear and anger. Furthermore, children who experience a parent who has or does exercise coercive control in an intimate relationship are at a higher risk of developing behavioral problems. The paper advises that the most effective way to help a child reject contact with a parent is to assess and address the level of coercion in the family. The article addresses the topic of interest by providing insight into the long-term impacts that parental behavior can have on a child’s development. A key takeaway from the research highlighted is that coercive tactics to control vulnerable children often lead to defiant behavior and elevated levels of fear and anger. This paper is beneficial because it allows researchers to understand how the separation between parents affects child development skills and relationships, especially those involving one parent exerting greater control than the other. The limitation of Champion’s research includes its reliance on data gathered via survey responses. As such, further research should be done to explore this concept and its potential implications. By exploring possible solutions and interventions, future studies may enable us to create preventative measures and reduce the likelihood of adverse outcomes due to divorce.

Raley’s (2020) study focused on divorce, remarriage, and stepfamily rates from the past decade. The study found that although overall divorce rates are declining, the rate is higher amongst older adults. Furthermore, the overall proportion of marriages that are remarriages is rising. Even with these changes, research indicates that transitions in parents’ relationships still have a negative impact on a child’s well-being. The complexity of family life has become more prevalent due to these changes in marriage trends. The study is beneficial in this research since it provides valuable insight into how recent divorces, partnering, and stepfamilies will influence the development skills of children in years to come. It also serves as a warning for adults considering getting a divorce or entering into a new relationship, as it may have some adverse effects on their children. While parents may no longer live together, they must maintain an active presence in their children’s lives. Nonetheless, the limitations of the study should also be taken into consideration. Firstly, the sample size was too small to allow generalization across all populations, which could affect the validity of the results. Additionally, since the study used data collected over ten years, it might not accurately reflect recent marriage trends. Despite its shortcomings, Raley’s study offers crucial insights into the impacts of divorce, remarriage, and stepfamilies on child development skills and relationships. Going forward, additional studies should look at different populations and should strive to explore any long-term consequences that result from parental separation.


In a nutshell, the research has shown that parental divorce does indeed affect the development of specific skills and relationships in children. It has been found that there is an increase in behavioral issues in children of divorced parents, as well as higher rates of depression and anxiety. These issues are not isolated to the immediate aftermath of the divorce; they can last well into adulthood. Nonetheless, there is a gap in the literature regarding the effects of parental divorce on child development. This means that further research needs to be conducted to understand how this process affects children at various ages, life stages, and socioeconomic status levels. Moreover, there is a need to consider how factors like family dynamics, gender, culture, religion, and education can further shape this relationship between divorcing parents and their children.

Research Question

Does parental divorce have an impact on the development skills and relationships of children?


Champion, K. M. (2022). Coercion in families and child resistance to contact with a parent after family separation. Journal of Family Trauma, Child Custody & Child Development, 1-14.

Liu, H. (2022, January). The Influence of Parental Divorce on Depression Symptoms in Adolescence and Early Adulthood: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. In 2021 International Conference on Public Art and Human Development (ICPAHD 2021) (pp. 477-485). Atlantis Press.

Nomaguchi, K. and Milkie, M.A., 2020. Parenthood and well‐being: A decade in review. Journal of Marriage and Family, 82(1), pp.198-223.

Raley, R. K., & Sweeney, M. M. (2020). Divorce, repartnering, and stepfamilies: A decade in review. Journal of Marriage and Family, 82(1), 81-99.

Steinbach, A. (2019). Children’s and parents’ well‐being in joint physical custody: A literature review. Family Process, 58(2), 353-369.


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