In this study all couples who during a period of 1 year were divorced at a Swedish district court, and who had children living at home, were examined for psychiatric consultations before, during and after the divorce period. Psychiatric consultation was defined as having a psychiatric record at the only psychiatric clinic in the catchment area. The divorced couples were compared with a matched group of married people. The results showed that there was a 4.1-fold higher risk for divorced men and a 2.5-fold higher risk for divorced women of acquiring a psychiatric record. The increased rate of psychiatric consultations was evident before as well as after the divorce period, but was most striking during the divorce period. A greater proportion of men than women started and continued to experience their psychiatric problems before and during the divorce period, while women more often started and continued to experience their psychiatric problems during the divorce period and afterwards.