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Journal Issue: Children and Divorce Volume 4 Number 1 Spring/Summer 1994

High-Conflict Divorce
Janet R. Johnston

Summary

This article reviews available research studies of high-conflict divorce and its effects on children. Interparental conflict after divorce (defined as verbal and physical aggression, overt hostility, and distrust) and the primary parent's emotional distress are jointly predictive of more problematic parent-child relationships and greater child emotional and behavioral maladjustment. As a group, children of high-conflict divorce as defined above, especially boys, are two to four times more likely to be clinically disturbed in emotions and behavior compared with national norms. Court-ordered joint physical custody and frequent visitation arrangements in high-conflict divorce tend to be associated with poorer child outcomes, especially for girls. Types of intervention programs and social policy appropriate for these kinds of families are presented.