Parental Separation & Divorce

Separation and divorce affects a significant portion of Australian children. The effects of separation and divorce are felt on children and adolescents of all ages in the short and long-term. In the short-term, parental separation and divorce leaves children struggling emotionally. Anger and sadness are normal, regardless of your child’s age – even if they are adolescents or even adults!

Sadness can lead to isolation, loneliness, and social difficulties. Children may also under-perform academically as a result of their parent’s break-up. Anger can also be seen as children grapple with feelings of abandonment, guilt, worry or blame towards another parent. All of these emotions are normal and should be expected. However, if deep anger or sadness continues beyond two to three months then you should seek counselling for your child.

Another important short-term challenge is that children often believe they are responsible for their parent’s separation. Children are particularly vulnerable to these kinds of thoughts between the ages of three and eight. In addition, younger children often experience fantasies of their parents reuniting and it is important to be open and transparent with your children about the reality of the situation.

What are Indicators that my Child/Adolescent may need Additional Support?

An adjustment period for all members of the family is normal following parental separation/divorce and this may include an increase in sadness or challenging behaviours exhibited by your child/adolescent. However, if these behaviours begin to impact everyday functioning, impede school performance or continue beyond a few months then your child/adolescent may benefit from some additional support to adjust to the parental separation/divorce.


YLO Psychology Clinic can provide support to your child/adolescent or family as it adjusts to parental separation or divorce. For more information please call 3341 4619.