How Divorce Court Experiences Impact Children and Families

Rohan Mathew

Updated on:

If you’re going through proceedings in the family courts in Australia, it can have a really hard impact on your family relationships, and especially on kids. Divorces and custody battles rarely come without any collateral damage. Fortunately there are professionals who do help with this process to make it more bearable, namely family court psychologists.

If you were to engage with family court psychologists in Perth, for instance, you’d find their services and support very useful. But despite their excellent work, it’s hard to put a cap on the ways that an experience in family court and a divorce process can impact children and other family members.

Reduces Level of Contact with One Parent

The first thing that can happen quite immediately is that during a court battle, children start to seriously lose touch with one of their parents. It’s not necessarily a lack of speaking, because nowadays kids can communicate with parents via smartphones and social media, but the lack of physical interaction and contact is inescapable while court proceedings and the actions of competing attorneys are happening.

Children are Exposed to Negative Opinions Between Parents

Another very unfortunate thing for children to have to experience sometimes is when one parent starts to speak negatively about the other to the children directly, or when the children are in earshot. Some parents underestimate their young children’s ability to comprehend what they’re saying, but even if they don’t pick up on all the language, they can identify that they’re speaking with negative, aggressive and thus unfamiliar and upsetting tones against someone the child adores and venerates.

Many parents are careful to avoid this situation, instead making conscious efforts to remain positive about their spouse where their children are concerned. This can present some serious challenges for one spouse, especially if the divorce is a result of infidelity, or something worse like domestic violence. It’s impossible to objectively point the finger at spouses speaking negatively about their partner when you don’t know everything that they’ve been through.

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Changes in Home Environment

In many cases, divorce may result in a change to the home living situation. It could be that one parent can’t afford to keep up a larger family residence alone so they have to move. Inevitably, someone leaves the home. In the more stable cases, one spouse will remain in the family home with the children and just one spouse will move out, but where money is an issue then it can get messier.

Wrenching children out of a familiar environment has huge repercussions. If they attend public school, for instance, moving house can force them to have to change their kids’ schools, which creates emotional distress and social difficulties as they have to start over with new friends and classmates. It can also impact their academic performance.

A smaller more budget-friendly accommodation also may limit the scope for children to play outside, or have their own room to sleep in. Any way in which you look at it, the changes in home dynamics have big consequences. If these relocations happen more than once, these negative impacts can be multiplied.

Feelings of Guilt

During a divorce process, guilt can wash over an entire family engulfing all of its members. Both spouses can feel guilty for what they did that prompted them to pursue divorce; they can feel guilty for the effects it’s having on the children, and for the huge cost that is depleting the family resources that are needed to support the children.

Children too feel guilt as some may wonder if their parents are divorcing because of something they did. The arrival of a second or third child may put strains on a relationship to the point where the parents split up, causing older children to resent younger siblings and tease them for their apparent role in what happened. In short, it gets emotionally messy.

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