upset man feeling the effects of divorce

What Are the Negative Effects of Divorce?

How common is divorce? The American Psychological Association (APA) states that experts estimate that at least 40% of people who are currently married in the United States will eventually file for a divorce. Ending a marriage can absolutely be the right decision for a couple. Dealing with a bad marriage on a day-to-day basis is stressful, frustrating, and overwhelming. 

Still, divorce is linked to negative effects. According to a meta-analysis cited by Frontiers, there are decades of research that links divorce and adverse health outcomes among adults.” In this article, you will find a comprehensive explanation of the negative effects of divorce and an overview of the steps that you can take to help avoid them. 

What Are the Negative Effects of Divorce?

Divorce is a life-altering event. It can trigger a cascade of negative emotions, leading to stress, anxiety, depression, and even substance abuse. No matter the circumstances—even if both spouses are 100% certain that a divorce is the right decision—the end of a marriage disrupts the foundation of life. It is linked to emotional turmoil and a sense of loss. The upheaval often results in increased feelings of loneliness and vulnerability, making people more susceptible to mental health issues. Financial strain and the risk of legal battles can make the process even more challenging. Here is an overview of some of the specific negative effects of a divorce: 

The Emotional Impact of Divorce

Divorce can unleash a torrent of emotions. Pay attention to how you are feeling. There could be sadness, anger, guilt, confusion, or any other type of negative emotions. It is normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed. As people process the end of their relationship, it can be an emotional rollercoaster that disrupts their lives. Working, keeping up with personal relationships, and performing basic self-care can all be hard. Emotional healing should be a high priority. 

Psychological Effects of a Divorce 

The psychological effects of divorce can be profound, as individuals may develop issues such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. It is the adverse psychological impact of a divorce that can sometimes contribute to serious problems, potentially even substance abuse issues. A divorce can impact mental health, exacerbating existing conditions or triggering new ones. Professional help from an experienced and compassionate mental health expert can make a difference. 

The Social Effects of Divorce 

Negative social effects are an underappreciated challenge for couples getting divorced. Divorce can lead to significant changes in social dynamics, as individuals often lose mutual friends or experience strained relationships with family members. The loss of social support networks can exacerbate feelings of isolation, loneliness, and disconnection. Adjusting to a new social landscape is often hard. Know that rebuilding connections may take time.

The Economic Impact of Divorce

Financial issues can make a divorce all the more difficult. Finances are a cloud that can hover over a person who is already going through a difficult emotional and psychological experience. Divorce often results in financial strain due to the division of assets, legal fees, and establishing separate households. These financial challenges can cause anxiety, stress, and even long-term economic hardship. Lower-income individuals may face greater difficulty in maintaining their standard of living post-divorce. Ensuring financial stability is crucial for both parties during and after the divorce process. 

Parental Conflict (During and After a Divorce)

Divorce is hard for everyone. For a parent who shares young children or teenagers with their spouse, there are some heightened challenges that need to be considered and addressed during and after the separation. Parental conflict—whether during the divorce process or after the end of the marriage—can have detrimental effects. It can be hard for both you and your kids. It is an added layer of stress for parents that goes on top of everything else they are dealing with. 

The Bottom Line

Ending a marriage is a hard thing to do. If you are considering filing for divorce, you do not have to navigate the entire process alone. You should be prepared to take on some short-term negative challenges, including the emotional impact, the psychological impact, some adverse social effects, financial strain, and, if applicable, parental conflict. The right preparation can help you navigate the divorce process in the most smooth manner possible so that you are best set up for a positive, happy, and successful future. 

A Bad Marriage Also Has Negative Effects (Divorce Can Be a Positive Long-Term Experience)

As mentioned above, there is strong scientific research that establishes that divorce is “associated with” and “linked to” negative effects. You will notice that the word “cause” has not been used. The reason is that data is a lot more complicated than that. While there is little doubt that divorce can cause some serious short-term hardships, it is actually unclear if a divorce “causes” negative outcomes on a population wide-level. Why? Because a bad marriage is also associated with many serious negative effects, including stress, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. It would be a mistake to only highlight the potential negative effects of a divorce without also considering the potential negative impact of staying in a bad, unhappy marriage.

Here is the reality: Even though it is hard, A divorce can still be the right decision for couples who have exhausted all efforts to repair their relationship or find themselves in an unhealthy or unfulfilling marriage. In some cases, divorce can lead to personal growth, self-discovery, and healthier relationships in the future. While it is natural to fear the negative effects of divorce, seeking professional help can make the process as smooth as possible, reducing the severity of these consequences. Engaging a skilled family law attorney can assist in navigating the legal aspects of divorce, ensuring that both parties understand their rights and work towards a fair and equitable settlement. Beyond a lawyer, other skilled professionals—including family therapists and other mental health counselors—can help to spare you from the worst effects of a divorce. 

Natalie is a writer and researcher who has been supporting the legal industry with her work for years. As the Lead Copyeditor at ONE400, the nation's premier law innovation agency, she's responsible for creating original content and editing articles submitted to the website. She has over five years of professional experience writing and editing across a variety of print and digital platforms. Her work has been featured across a number of legal industry publications and sites.
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