A third of children whose parents divorce seek solace from the trauma in drugs or alcohol, a survey has revealed.
The poll of 2,000 individuals who had experienced divorce as a child in the last 20 years also discovered that one in ten turned to crime and eight per cent considered suicide.
The study also highlighted the conflict experienced by children of divorcing couples.
More than 40 per cent witnessed aggressive rows between their parents, with almost half (49 per cent) forced to comfort an upset mother or father.
Just under a quarter (24 per cent) were forced by one parent to lie to the other and 15 per cent were asked to spy on a parent.
Legal Aid funding for separating couples to litigate over child related issues costs the UK taxpayer £151 million a year.
Sandra Davis of law firm Mishcon de Reya, which commissioned the poll, said the research demonstrated that divorcing parents use their children as “emotional footballs”.
She added: “Not only are warring mothers and fathers damaging their children, they are costing the taxpayer millions which could be spent so much more constructively.”
Two major reports published last year also highlighted the damaging impact of divorce on children.
The National Child Development Study concluded that divorce has “repercussions that reverberate through childhood and into adulthood”, and a report by the Good Childhood Inquiry warned that family breakdown was a major cause of harm to children’s mental health.
A subsequent survey of under-10s found that if they ruled the world, the first law they would make would be a ban on divorce.
A family judge recently warned of the prevailing culture of broken relationships scarring children and damaging society.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Justice Coleridge drew attention to “family courts overwhelmed with cases involving damaged, miserable or disturbed children”.
He said the affirmation of marriage as the “gold standard” of relationship was the only way to stem the tide of broken relationships.