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Keywords:

  • Adolescence;
  • divorce;
  • psychological distress;
  • well-being;
  • school problems

This study investigates the long-term effects of parental divorce on adolescent psychological adjustment and well-being, and to what extent the effects are accounted for by parental psychological distress. Data were collected among 8,984 Norwegian adolescents (13–19 years) and their parents. Outcome variables were symptoms of anxiety and depression, subjective well-being, and three areas of school problems. Parental divorce was found to be associated with both higher mean levels and larger variances in adolescent problems. Divorce and parental distress contributed independently to adolescent distress, supporting the notion of “double exposure” effects. The prevalence of adolescents with substantial distress symptoms was 14% among those with non-distressed non-divorced parents and 30% among those with divorced and distressed parents. In general effects remained when controlling for demographic factors. Long-term effects of divorce on symptoms of anxiety and depression were stronger among girls than among boys.