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Divorce: Effect on Children or the Family

  • By: Marilyn Coleman & Graham McCaulley
  • In: Encyclopedia of Family Health
  • Edited by: Martha Craft-Rosenberg & Shelley-Rae Pehler
  • Subject:Family Health, Family Policy, Family Law

Around one third of first marriages in the United States will end in divorce within 10 years. Subsequent marriages dissolve more rapidly and at a higher rate. Consequently, roughly 1 million children experience parental divorce each year (i.e., married parents legally divorcing). In response to several decades of high divorce rates, the effect of divorce on children has emerged as a highly researched topic among social scientists. Although researchers generally have found an increased risk for negative emotional and behavioral outcomes for children whose parents have divorced, the effect of other family factors must be considered, including whether or not children whose parents divorced would have experienced the same negative outcomes had their parents remained married.

Historical Context

The legal concept of divorce can be documented ...

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