Divorce and Children – Effects of a Divorce on Children


Children are highly sensitive to their parents’ emotions and this applies particularly in the event of a divorce. According to statistics, there are over 50,600 children with divorced parents in the past decade. Just last year alone, 4728 children were involved in divorce court proceedings, with 1,845 of them being below eight years old.


Due to unresolved trauma from divorce, children or teenagers may find themselves bottling up their emotions, with a negative effect on their studies or behaviour. Some of them may think: “Why study so hard when my parents are divorcing? I don’t want to bother them with my problems when they’re so preoccupied.” This may result in rebellious behaviour, with children becoming involved in unsavory such as smoking or skipping school.


Children may become also become withdrawn due to their parents’ divorce. Inevitably during a fight for custody, children may feel a sense of abandonment. This is because even as both parents are fighting to gain their children’s favour, their children are unwilling to take sides and end up being disillusioned with the whole process of divorce. With unresolved familial disputes, children could even face bullying at school as their peers may inadvertently pick on their emotional wounds stemming from their parents’ divorce.


The effects of their parents’ bitter divorce on children may also manifest during adulthood, where they could be unable to maintain healthy relationships. Even if they get married, they will subconsciously copy their parents’ behaviour when dealing with their own families.


Therefore, it is crucial that parents fully communicate with their children about the divorce process. Reassurance is definitely required to help children alleviate their fears and quell their concerns. Also, it has to be explained that a divorce is due to a breakdown in their parents’ relationship, and is not a result of their children’s actions.


To help children cope better with divorce, parents can consider some of the below options: 
1. Co-Parenting

Fighting for custody may be bitter and ugly. The legal process could be long and emotionally draining, and the child would inevitably need to stay with one parent.

Parents can therefore consider co-parenting, whereby the two parents work together in a harmonious or neutral manner to raise the child together, even though they are no longer living together, or divorced. When properly implemented, this method can have a positive effect on children. This is because the children would be better assured of both parents’ concern.

2. Counselling

While keeping family conflicts strictly private may be second nature to many Singaporeans, counseling could assist children in coping with their parents’ divorce. In particular, professionals trained in dealing with children with divorcing parents may be better equipped to objectively discuss the divorce and answer questions.

Some possible agencies to consider are:

• Care Corner Centre for co-parenting (www.carecorner.org.sg)

• Help Family Service Centre (www.helpfsc.org.sg)

• Ppis As-Salaam Family Support Centre (www.ppis.sg)

• Thye Hua Kwan Centre for family harmony (www.thkmc.org.sg)

3. Constant Communication

In whatever circumstances, parents have to be sensitive to their children’s feelings and willing to discuss the divorce. Although you may be inclined to start blaming your spouse or spilling your grievances to your children, the key aim is to allow your children to talk about their honest feelings. This would reduce the chances of your children having unresolved traumas from your divorce.

Ultimately, children will be detrimentally affected by their parents’ divorce. It is therefore critical to discuss the divorce openly with your children, depending on their levels of maturity, and address any concerns they may have. More importantly, do not try to influence or even damage your children’s relationship with your spouse as that would lead to more problems.

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Founder and Principal Lawyer
of Yeo and Associates LLC

Beatrice Yeo Poh Tiang

Having handled over 10,000 divorces since 2006, Ms. Beatrice Yeo, the Founder and Principal Lawyer of the firm, is widely acknowledged as one of the best divorce lawyers in Singapore.

She has extensive experience in all aspects of Matrimonial Law, including Nullity Proceedings, Contested & Uncontested Divorce and Mediation.

It is Beatrice’s personal endeavour to make sure that her clients get her personal and specialised attention.

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