Teens & divorce: Can divorce force teens into the workforce prematurely?

Teens sometimes are forced into the workforce prematurely. This is due to the unavoidable life event called divorce. Divorce can completely rework the financial DNA of a family. The weak economy has only exacerbated this trend.
Divorce rearranges the economic dynamic of a family. Most people agree that women and children are often the financial victims of divorce because it takes the main breadwinner (still, that is usually the father) out of the equation and leaves a mother (still usually the custodial parent) to make ends meet.
Sure, in all states there are child support and alimony laws. But the fact of the matter is that even with these statutes and legislation, women and children are often left adrift at sea, struggling to make ends meet. That could be because the father disappears after the divorce and fails to pay as ordered; or he stops working; or he becomes incapacitated; or he does pay but it is not enough to keep the family living at the same standard of living they had when the family was still in tact.
What happens quite a bit in these instances is that teenagers in these families find themselves forced to work not just to pay their recreational expenses, but also to help out around the house. (Obviously, this situation won’t impact teens in high net-worth families. This is really an issue that affect low to middle income teenagers.)
Many teens have a job and love having their own pocket money. That is perfectly fine. But financial hardship can not only force teens into the workforce, but it can keep them trapped in a cycle that makes it difficult for them to find the time to go to college once they are finished with high school, or even to have the time to devote to studies while in high school. Working too many hours, therefore, can wreak havoc on the social and educational development of a teenager. Unfortunately, when their parents divorce, many teens find that their choices are limited.
In a perfect world, this wouldn’t have to happen. A teen can take a part time job just to have money to buy designer duds and pay for their first car or go out on dates, or do whatever it is that he or she wants. But in the real world the money that many teens make goes helping with the upkeep of the family home, food and utilities like water and electricity.
To take the burden off teens, custodial parents may have to consider downsizing to a smaller house or apartment, moving to a less expensive neighborhood, cutting back on groceries, eating out less, and monitoring the use of utilities. Non-custodial parents also have to be vigilant about paying their fair share of child support and alimony. Teens can also help by demanding less un-necessities, helping to keep expenses down for utilities by being mindful of the use or abuse of electricity, water and the like; giving up certain privileges like owning a car; and going on dates that do no require a huge outlay of cash. They are also wise to develop good spending and saving habits so that at least a portion of what they make goes to help with future expenses like college.