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Divorce - The Lasting Impact on Children - Part 1 - Family Structure

Divorce: The Lasting Impact on Children - Part 1 - Family Structure

A number of blog posts focus on family law matters and divorce and how it affects the parents in their daily lives and long term. However, the impact on children of divorce is equally severe, if not greater. In Indiana, the general standard for domestic law involving child custody is the best interests standard1. Parties and Court will weigh what is in the child’s best interest to determine who should have custody, how much parenting time the other parent receives, whether or not grandparents get visitation, and this list goes on. But how are the best interests of children affected by divorce?

One of the most common changes/upheavals in the life of a child of divorce is the family structure. To start, parents are generally no longer co-habiting, and the child now has two separate households with different surroundings and different rules. Perhaps one is an apartment, perhaps with one parent, the child now shares a room when he/she did not before. A new household may affect school, activities, friendships, and otherwise, and is a big adjustment for a child, as well as the parent.

Also, after divorce, with two parents no longer living together, another family member or friend may move in or become actively involved in care giving. In a number of instances, a parent will move in with his/her parents to assist with getting back on their feet and helping with the children. This can be a positive and strengthen the relationship between the child and extended family2, but it can also be a shift away from the “norm” and another adjustment for the child.

Later, a step-parent may become involved, the child may suddenly have new step-siblings or eventually half-siblings. This can certainly be an adjustment, especially for an only child. Suddenly, there may be an older step-sibling or new baby in the house, and this can cause stress for the child as well.

The economic impact of divorce can also alter the family structure in the way that the family operates. After a divorce, when child support is calculated3, parents may need to reenter the workforce or change jobs in order to support the children with one income and child support versus two incomes or other previous arrangement. In fact, data from 2008 shows that in the United States, a woman’s income drops an average of 40-50% after a divorce4.

There are several ways a child’s family structure can change after a divorce, and while some changes are positive, all are an adjustment, and may have long-lasting effects on children. Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of this blog series. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.


  1. See, for example, Ind. Code 31-17-2-8
  2. See Boyd, Denise and Helen Bee, Lifespan Development, Taken from Lifespan Development, Fourth Edition, Custom Publishing, p.211 (2006).
  3. See Child Support Rules and Guidelines
  4. See Boyd, Denise and Helen Bee, Lifespan Development, Taken from Lifespan Development, Fourth Edition, Custom Publishing, p.211 (2006).
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Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., is a law firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. We serve clients in six core practice areas: family lawappellate practicefirearms lawgeneral practicepersonal injury and criminal law.

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Based in Indianapolis and founded in 1995, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. is a niche law firm focused on successfully dealing with the complexities of divorce, high-conflict child custody and family law. Known for their ability to solve extremely complex situations with high quality work and responsiveness, Ciyou & Dixon will guide you every step of the way. The family law attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. will help you precisely identify your objectives and the means to reach your desired result. In addition, this practice focus is augmented by the firm's other three core areas, namely appellate advocacy, civil practice, and firearms law. Life is uncertain. Be certain of your counselSM.

Indianapolis Divorce Attorneys, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. of Indianapolis, Indiana, offers legal services for Indianapolis, Zionsville, Noblesville, Carmel, Avon, Anderson, Danville, Greenwood, Brownsburg, Geist, Fortville, McCordsville, Muncie, Greenfield, Westfield, Fort Wayne, Fishers, Bloomington, Lafayette, Marion County, Hamilton County, Hendricks County, Allen County, Delaware County, Morgan County, Hendricks County, Boone County, Vigo County, Johnson County, Hancock County, and Tippecanoe County, Indiana.