Checklist of Protective and Risk Factors for Children of Divorce

By: Steven A. Lazarus, Psy.D., L.P.C.

People often ask, "How will this divorce effect my kids." Instead of looking at just the divorce itself, the research is clear that there are a number of factors which can increase or decrease the chances that kids will have problems. There is still a debate in the divorce field about whether divorce has long term consequences for children or if they can adjust well after a divorce. This list can be used by parents at any time in the divorce process. Parents should be aware of how different risk factors can increase the chance children will have adjustment difficulties during this time and should make every effort to enhance the protective factors. This list can also be used by professionals to take note of areas of strength and possible problem areas when working with clients going through divorce.

Protective factors

Risk factors

A psychotherapist who works with children and adults, Dr. Lazarus drew on the work of Hetherington and Kelly (For Better or Worse: Divorce Reconsidered, 2002), Joan Kelly ("Marital conflict, domestic violence, divorce and children's adjustment," May 2001 presentation) and Whiteside and Becker ("Parental factors and the young child's postdivorce adjustment" in Journal of Family Psychology, 14(1).)

For more information, please contact Dr. Lazarus at 303-267-2194 or visit his Web site at

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