Divorce can be an extremely difficult experience for both children and parents. It introduces a massive change creating a challenging new family circumstance in which to live. There are about one million children each year that experience their parent's divorcing prior to the age of 18 (Clarke-Stewart, A., & Brentano, C., 2007). Children at any age witness a loss of love between parents, a breakage of parental marriage commitment, an adjustment to going back and forth between two different households, and a daily absence of one parent while living with the other (Pickhardt, C. E., 2011). Fernchild states that children are not emotionally mature when parents are going through a divorce. A divorce destabilizes their personal support during a time of constant personal changes (Fernchild, D.P., 2013). Emotional costs can include embarrassment, fear of abandonment, grief, and worry about their parent's well-being. Many times children feel sad, and almost all children feel angry after the divorce. Children often feel neglected as parents tend to their own problems throughout the process of the divorce. Depending on the stage of life a child is in at the time of parental divorce, their reactions can vary, but every child experiences confusion and betrayal (Clarke-Stewart, A., & Brentano, C., 2007). .
During the first stage of infancy through preschool, a child is able to sense anger and tension even though they may not fully grasp what is going on when parents divorce. There are many changes that can occur during this age and stage of life, and divorce often elicits a more regressive response. Some of the more common regressions to occur are changes in eating, sleeping and possibly even the toilet training routine. The child tends to become much more clingy, whiny and irritable. More aggressive behaviors toward the parent are also observed. The child becomes much more fearful of being abandoned, along with being fearful that if one parent has left the other may possibly leave as well.