DIVORCE is generally recognized as a disruptive, stressful experience for affected children.1-3 It is less clear, however, that divorce is a direct cause of psychopathological disturbance in children. With an increasing number of children experiencing divorce, clarification of the relevance of divorce to child psychiatry is in order. To this end, this paper is a report of impressions of divorce gained from the perspective of child psychiatrists working in a family court and in a child psychiatry clinic.
Before proceeding to the substance of this study, several orienting considerations are in order. From the statistical standpoint, the divorce rate in the United States has been increasing steadily, although not dramatically, over the last 25 years. The national average was 2.0 divorces per thousand population in 1940, 2.6/1,000 in 1950, and 2.8/1,000 in 1968.4 The facts, also, indicate that divorce is a