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Impact of family breakdown on children's well-being: evidence review

This review investigates the impact of parental separation and divorce on children’s well-being and development. The review incorporates evidence concerning family breakdown, and its consequences, in the context of understandings of ‘the family’, ‘breakdown’ and the ‘well-being’ of children and young people, and includes research relating to both married and cohabiting parents. ‘Well-being’ is defined as incorporating children’s mental, emotional and physical health.

The report is structured as follows. Section 2 considers the impact of family breakdown on children’s development and wellbeing. Section 3 looks at the mechanisms and the complex interplay of different factors associated with divorce and separation that may account for its impact on children. Section 4 explores the evidence relating to factors that may facilitate or hinder the likelihood of positive outcomes following family breakdown.

Ann Mooney
Chris Oliver
Marjorie Smith
Department for Children, Schools and Families