Split and Splintered

The Struggle and Impact of Divorce

Picture of divorce papers

The McKeon Law Firm

Picture of divorce papers

Families around the world go through the stages of divorce. Here at Triton, students from each grade level have been affected by divorce, whether it is minor or major issues. Either way, many kids around the world struggle with processing and dealing with the separation of their family. 

The definition of divorce according to the American Psychological Association is “ the legal dissolution of marriage, leaving the partners free to remarry”.  Divorce may significantly influence the well-being of an individual, many people experiencing illnesses like depression, loneliness and isolation, self-esteem difficulties and many more. Throughout the process of divorce, students tend to struggle coping with such a difficult idea. 

There are different circumstances when it comes to divorce, allowing for different ‘types’ of divorce. The APA includes an example of divorce as emotional divorce, “ A marital relationship in which the partners live separate lives, with an absence of normal interaction between them”. The most common type of divorce is marital separation. According to the APA, marital separation is “a situation in which a previously cohabiting married couple stops living together and instead maintains individual residences, finances and so forth”. Typically, most students’ parents go through the process of marital separation, making it difficult to balance not having a full time parent.

Students who are having these sorts of struggles in their home life find it hard to concentrate on school work and sustain other relationships in their lives. 

“When a kid loses a parent, it can be difficult to focus when there is so much going on in their personal life. The change can be a lot to handle for some kids,” said Ms. Bibeau, a social worker at Triton High School.         

Child custody is also a common issue with divorce. Child custody refers to the care, protection, and supervision of a child. This raises many questions within families going through a divorce. How will the child’s time with each of the parents work? How will the child adjust to the living situation? Will one parent have more time with the child than the other?                                                                                                                                                 

In the states of Massachusetts, there are 4 different types of custody arrangements. These consist of sole legal custody, shared legal custody, sole physical custody and  shared physical custody. According to Mass.gov, “Sole legal custody is when one parent has the right and responsibility to make major decisions about the child, including ones about education, medical care, religion, and emotional development”. Shared legal custody is similar to this except both parents can control the child’s rights and responsibilities. Sole physical custody according to Mass.gov is, “A child lives with one parent and the other parent has reasonable parenting time, unless the court decides that parenting time wouldn’t be the child’s best interest”. Like shared legal custody, shared physical custody is when a child lives with both parents, so that they have frequent contact with the child. 

Guidance Counselor here at Triton, Karen Christian, gives her take on how divorce can impact kids.

“Yes,  I think that kids are impacted by divorce because, regardless of how custody works out, they are missing out on being with one parent full time. The way in which the parents handle the divorce can significantly impact the child as well, if the parents are fighting or being mean to each other” says Christian.

Kids impacted divorce are struggling whether that’s academically, physically or emotionally, and have some coping mechanisms that can help them. Christian has one suggestion for students in Triton who are struggling from divorce.

“Kids should talk with someone they trust about their feelings and the impact of the divorce. Talking things out, and getting things off of one’s chest, is the best coping mechanism” said Christian. 

Students here at Triton that recently have struggled due to divorce should seek out and talk to a trusted adult for extra support. Divorce is a huge topic that children struggle with all the time. When it comes to struggling Triton students, these circumstances are low according to Christian. 

“Divorce does not seem to be a big issue [here at Triton] in and of itself: again, its how the parents handle themselves, their anger and bitterness that has the negative impact on the children. So, there are many students who are the product of a divorced household, but it may not be negatively impacting them so much–and if it is, they are using their resources to work it out”.