Does Having Children Complicate Your Divorce?

Childless marriages are more likely to break down when couples hit a rough patch because there’s no “for the sake of the children” to keep spouses together. Also, married couples are more enticed to work on their relationships instead of calling it quits for children’s sake. But when there’s no resolution and divorce seems the only way out, could having children complicate the divorce?

Childless Divorces vs. Divorces with Children 

Married couples are childless or childfree by either chance or choice. However, many of the couples that can produce children postpone parenthood until they become childless by chance due to the many infertility issues that arise with growing old. But a growing minority chooses not to have children due to many other reasons such as environmental concerns, not wanting to renounce the full enjoyment of life, childhood trauma, financial issues, and more.

However, when kids arrive on the scene, they can act like a glue that keeps couples together and can literally save a marriage. About five or six decades ago, childless couples were twice as likely as couples with children to divorce. The likelihood of divorce went even slimmer if the couple had four or more children.

After the year 2000, 66 percent of divorced couples were childless versus 40 percent who had kids. Without children, divorces are easier, faster, and cheaper. They are also less emotionally taxing as there is no risk of children taking part in debates in a court of law that they should not normally be part of. Also, there’s no risk of developing Parental Alienation Syndrome down the road either.

In addition, childless divorcing couples have enough room to focus on other marital issues like splitting marital property, common debt, and alimony. Those couples have lower standards to meet when filing for divorce in some states as well, however, a divorce lawyer Townsville is still needed for proceedings. For instance, if a married couple has children in some jurisdictions, the spouses are required, under state law, to wait around one year before they can file for divorce.

Does Having Children Complicate My Divorce? 

While having children is listed as one of the most common complications of divorce, it does not always complicate the divorce proceedings. Custody battles can be gruesome, but you can avoid all the blood, sweat, and tears by working on a custody agreement with the other spouse before getting the divorce.

Many people decide to go down that road because divorce is easier on the kids that way, and it is best for the entire family for parents to decide on issues like parenting time and parental responsibilities instead of letting a family court do it. Most of the time, divorce and family law attorneys are the best professionals to help divorced couples navigate custody issues before those issues get out of hand in a family court.

But that requires both parties’ willingness to negotiate and compromise. If a spouse or both spouses are so bitter that they refuse to cooperate, a divorce with children can get very complicated. Child disputes can drag on for years, are very costly, and emotionally taxing. What is more, custody is rarely awarded to the father. Also, children might be summoned to testify in court, which can easily traumatize them or fill them with guilt later on.

What is more, a family court may grant physical custody to one parent and legal custody to the other parent. This means that the children will live with the parent who has physical custody, but many decisions made on the child’s behalf will need the other parent’s approval.

Pair child custody disagreements with financial disputes like division of debt or marital property division, and you might end up with a costly and lengthy divorce that both spouses would have wished to avoid from the get-go.


Does having children complicate a divorce? Not necessarily. If both divorcing spouses are on the same page regarding custody issues, child-related issues can be settled before divorce proceedings start. However, if the couple is unwilling to compromise or cooperate, child disputes can and will complicate a divorce exponentially.

About the author:

While she had a solid education in law, Lynda King wanted more than a job as a lawyer. She knew that people needed information and a better understanding of everyday legal matters, so she began writing articles and guidelines to educate individuals and businesses. Now, Lynda is collaborating with Farzad & Ochoa Family Law Attorneys, being proud that her knowledge and writing talent are helping everyone every day.

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