One instructive means of thinking about divorce is to consider divorce not as a single event that influences people's lives, but rather as a process. This conceptualization of divorce suggests that the manner in which divorce ultimately affects children involves a confluence of factors and processes that occur early in the divorce, as well as processes occurring after the divorce. Moreover, this line of reasoning suggests that many negative effects for children in divorced families may be due to exposure to traumatic experiences and processes that have nothing to do with divorce per se. That is, children whose parents divorce witness negative family interaction prior to a divorce and also experience many life transitions and strained familial relationships after divorce.
Continuing into adulthood, the detrimental effects of divorce continue. Studies report less learning and difficulty maintaining long term relationships with the most frequent delayed onset consequence is a negative anxiety of repeating the failed relationship that caused the divorce
In any given case, the developmental stage of the child, the parental attitude, the financial situation, the custody battle, the visitation policies, the interactions between parents prior to and after divorce and the openness with which the subject is approached will interact to produce some effect, positive or negative, on the child. The question is, as professionals, what can we do to reduce the negative effects for this population at risk? It is comforting to note that the suffering caused by family disruptions, in general, are temporary. But there is no reason why school personnel, armed with appropriate information and understanding, cannot help to make the transition a little easier for the children. "For the sake of the children" should not be just a phrase associated with keeping unhappy marriages intact.