Adolescents are old enough to understand divorce, but that does not make it easier. They may intellectually understand, but emotionally they will still struggle. No matter what their lives are being torn apart. There is no easy way to handle that.
Divorce is so devastating for children. I'm sure that many children may lose a sense of security and identity because their family structure has been broken. If the parents remain civil I think this may soften the blow for children. Children need stability and routine, and going back and forth between parents may cause some confusion and stress. Again I do believe if the parents are friendly and not continuing to fight, it can make the process a lot easier for children.
I think one of the major challenges for children of divorced parents is for them to be able to have decent relationships of their own. Adolescent children of divorce often feel like their parents' relationship is the only possible kind of relationship. Because of this, they have a hard time entering into relationships themselves.
There is going to be a great deal of evidence out there on the topic. Sifting through it and finding what will best fit your needs on the topic is going to be critical. In the interesting soliciting other viewpoints on the topic, I would say that the stigmatizing element of divorce is not as present as it was about three or four decades ago. Yet, that does not suggest that it does not hold a profound impact on an adolescent. Some of the impacts result in a change in environment, physical and emotional. The notion of a new start can impact adolescents in new surroundings: "A teenage child of divorcing parents may have to face another kind of separation: leaving one school and friends behind and starting over in a new school." Given how the need for social contact with adolescents is so important, this carries a large impact. At the same time, the emotional nuances of divorce need to be navigated by the adolescent. Already prone to examining and struggling to find proper emotional venting or expression, divorces can send mixed messages to individuals whose consciousnesses are already obscure and in formation. The idea of understanding divorce as not something that is a "quick fix" for complex problems that need to be navigated is one such challenge that adolescents in divorce situations have to navigate. Additionally, adolescents might struggle in understanding the need for healthy emotional atmospheres. This reality of divorce has to be talked through and articulated to adolescents who seek to establish their own romantic notion of selves, projecting themselves into the future with some level of doubt about whether they, too, will get divorced as their parents did. The challenge here for adolescents is whether they will be condemned to repeat the past challenges of their parents or whether or they will be mindful of them and seek to overcome them as they become older.