Review of the varied impact of couple relationship breakdown on children: Implications for practice and policy (2010)

28 March 2012

This review of international literature assesses the impacts that the relationship breakdown of parents has on children and factors that can provide support should this occur. The parental separation process causes significant albeit short-term distress for most children, with a minority reporting longer-term outcomes such as socio-economic disadvantage, behavioural problems, poor educational achievement, and physical and emotional health problems. Factors increasing the likelihood of sustained disadvantage include: poverty; poor parent–child relationships; continuing parental conflict, multiple transitions in family formation; and poor maternal mental health. Supporting the factors that can improve child outcomes, exploring opportune ways to strengthen couple and family relationships, and integrating the views of children (for example, in court-based dispute resolution) are the leading implications for practice and policy.

Full text available at:

Coleman, L. & Glenn, F. (2010). The varied impact of couple relationship breakdown on children: Implications for practice and policy. Children and Society, 24 (3), 238-249.

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