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How Divorce Impacts A Child’s Grades

Think divorce doesn’t impact a child’s grades? Think again!

Most parents today are focused on their child’s grades. Sometimes to the point that they log into online accounts each week to see how their child is doing, rather than looking at quarterly report cards like in years past. What many people don’t realize is that divorce, which is quite common, impacts a child’s grades. The reasons why this happens may be surprising to most parents.

“We know that divorce harms a child’s emotional wellbeing, and that impacts their school performance,” said Dads’ Resource Center Executive Director Jeff Steiner. “We also know that children do better and achieve more when fathers play a larger role in their lives because the child’s wellbeing will be better. Society must make changes that will keep fathers more active in their children’s lives. That’s something that will benefit everyone.”

In most cases, divorce has a detrimental impact on a child’s life. This is primarily due to the amount of stress that the family is under and that most children go from having their father in their lives daily down to seeing him only every couple of weeks. Children need both parents to be active and loving in their life to feel whole, safe, and have less stress.

A child’s education is negatively impacted when parents’ divorce. Here are some research studies that shed light on the problems associated with it:


  • In a study published in 2019 in the journal Sociological Science, researchers looked at why parental divorce lowers a child’s educational attainment. They conclude that it’s explained by a decline in family income, family stability, and a child’s psychosocial skills. They report that a child’s cognitive ability doesn’t deteriorate when parents divorce, but their emotional wellbeing does, and this leads to a decline in educational attainment.


  • In the February 2022 issue of the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, researchers looked at the association between school difficulties and family type in an early adolescent population. They concluded that adolescents with divorced parents have nearly a 5-time greater risk for school difficulties than intact families. The school difficulties include skipping school, school absence due to family problems, grade repetition, low school performance, and school dropout ideation.


  • A study published in the March 2020 issue of the journal PLoS One, examined the relationship between divorce and adolescent achievement in relation to the educational level of the parents. They report that the negative association between parental divorce and GPA was stronger among adolescents with educated or highly educated parents compared to adolescents with less-educated parents. They conclude that educated, divorced mothers are less likely to transfer their educational advantages to their children than non-divorced, equally educated mothers. Their theory is that the educated, divorced mothers are taking on more burden and work pressure.


“More than any other project or cause that society needs to work on, we all must work with passion and urgency to eliminate the systemic barriers to single-father involvement in the lives of our children,” says Dads’ Resource Center Chairman Dr. Joel N. Myers. “All of us must take the time to educate everyone about the overwhelming evidence – backed by thousands of years of anecdotal evidence and numerous studies over recent decades – that clearly show children develop much better when both of their parents are actively involved in their lives.”



Sociological Science. Why Does Parental Divorce Lower Children’s Educational Attainment? April 2019.

Nordic Journal of Psychiatry. Associations between school difficulties and family type and role of socioeconomic, behavior, and health-related difficulties. February 2022. 

PLoS One. Divorce and adolescent academic achievement. March 2020. 




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