Children of ‘High Conflict’ Custody Battles Tend to Suffer More Emotionally

From API’s Publications Team

EmotionsCustody cases are rarely pleasant, but in about 10 percent of these cases, it truly becomes a battle between the estranged parents and the long-term effects on their children’s mental wellbeing can be devastating.

According to an article on, “Video Offers Advice to Divorcing Parents,” research at the Massachusetts General Hospital show that 65 percent of children involved in high conflict custody cases — or about 10 percent of all custody cases — experience clinical symptoms of anxiety, which manifested in a variety of ways such as physical aggression, sleep disorders, depression, bedwetting, becoming sexually active prematurely, and even dissociation.

What is Dissociation?

Dissociation is the psychiatric term to describe there is a splitting off of a group of mental processes from the main body of consciousness, as what happens with amnesia and some forms of hysteria.

Furthermore, 56 percent of the children of high conflict custody cases develop attachment disorders that leave them unable to form friendships with others in fear of being abandoned.

“In a sense, there is a neglect,” said family court Judge Elaine Gordon in the video she co-created, Putting Children First: Minimizing Conflict in Custody Disputes. “Because parents who are fighting are not capable of emotionally caring for their children.”

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4 thoughts on “Children of ‘High Conflict’ Custody Battles Tend to Suffer More Emotionally”

  1. Hi,

    Nice blog, interesting information. I am writing a report paper on the effects of divorce on children and I would like to use some of this information within my report. The link given at the end for more information no longer work.

    In order to reference this properly I would like the name of the author of this blog.

    Thank you.

  2. My name is Nichole, I have been dealing with my son’s custodian off and on now, for a little over 10 years. My son has recently started acting out and has been unwilling to go to bed. When I have asked him to go to bed he freaks out and starts crying. I have tried asking him repeatedly why he never wants to go to bed? All he he would keep saying is “I want to go home, I want go home!” I love my son and I only care about what is best for him.

  3. My daughter was the victim of a high conflict custody battle. Her mother tried to alienate her from me just as she alienated her other child from her father. The only reason there are high conflict custody cases is because there is good money in it for lawyers. And the doctors are too cowardly to diagnose a mentally unstable parent as such for fear of being sued.

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