The Effects of Divorce on Society

By Jennifer Kiesewetter, J.D.

The Effects of Divorce on Society

By Jennifer Kiesewetter, J.D.

Divorce impacts more than the individuals who choose to end their marriage. It has taken a toll on society. Research shows that the divorce rate is falling, in part because millennials wait longer to get married than previous generations. Nonetheless, the divorce rate still hovers around 50 percent of all married couples. And each divorce has a far-reaching impact on families' financial livelihoods, children, and the workplace.

Little girl with a sad expression sitting away from her arguing parents

Impact on Finances

Divorce—during and after—takes a toll on a family's income. When couples get divorced, it's important that the custodial parent understand that child support eventually ends. Also, courts don't always award alimony. And recent tax laws ending deductibility for alimony payments may result in a downward trend in alimony awards.

Divorced women and their children are more likely than divorced men to receive public assistance while living in poverty. Further, even if women don't drop into extreme debt, their standard of living decreases more so than divorced men. Although both spouses are worse off financially after divorce, research shows that women's finances are negatively impacted at a higher rate.

Impact on Children

Ending a marriage can be difficult on children. Many children blame themselves for their parents' divorce, creating guilt and sadness. Divorce often impacts children's education, resulting in slowed academic progress or limited financial support for learning opportunities. Additionally, children from single-parent households often experience developmental issues, impacting their behavioral and emotional well-being.

Because of substantial changes to the family dynamics and depleted finances, children from divorce exhibit riskier behavior than children from households with both biological parents. For example, children are more prone to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Behavioral issues can lead children to criminal acts or unplanned teenage pregnancies. Finally, without a good model of a lasting marriage during childhood, children can experience relationship issues as adults.

Impact on Employment

Divorce impacts the workplace as well. Employees going through a divorce can experience higher levels of absenteeism, presenteeism, stress, anxiety, and health issues. These factors might lead to them exhibiting poorer performance and lower productivity when they are at the office.

A distracted, depressed, or unengaged employee negatively impacts an employer's cash flow. A recent study by the Global Corporate Challenge found that presenteeism—being present at work but not performing—costs U.S. businesses ten more times than absenteeism. Worrying about child support or who gets the house can easily distract an employee.

The effects of divorce on employees can extend for years. Many employees experiencing emotional distress increase errors or exhibit poor lack of judgment. Additionally, the emotional upheaval of a divorce can create anxiety, causing additional health problems. These health issues might result in additional time away from work, ultimately affecting an employer's bottom line.

Understanding the divorce process can help alleviate stress and anxiety, on both the divorcing couple and the children. If a marriage can't be saved, a couple can work together to end the marriage amicably, allowing for a more straightforward, less stressful, and less costly divorce. With all of the negative effects caused by divorce, it's helpful to understand what's to come so damages can be minimized.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.