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This week is Good Divorce Week, aptly named as a way of raising awareness of the wider impact a separation can bring, particularly for children. Whilst divorce is always difficult, a number of studies have revealed the long-term serious impact on children, specifically around the conflict a divorce brings. Good Divorce Week aims to address the issues affecting children and how separating couples can mitigate any complications by providing practical help and support.
Can’t argue with the figures
According to a new poll, run by YouGov and commissioned by family justice campaigners, Resolution, 79% of those surveyed agreed conflict from divorce or separation can affect negatively children’s mental health. This figure rises to a massive 87% among those who experienced their own parents’ divorce as children.
Another 77% said conflict could affect children’s academic performance and a further two-thirds felt social interactions and the ability to form healthy romantic relationships were also jeopardised. Furthermore, 79% of the public would support measures that remove blame from the divorce process and 71% believe change is urgently needed to reduce the negative impact on children.
Do it for the kids
Resolution’s research has also highlighted that in the age group 14-22 year olds, of those who have experienced family breakups, 82% would prefer their parents to part if they are unhappy. More than 60% felt their parents had not ensured they were part of the decision-making process in their separation or divorce. About half admitted not understanding what was happening during their parents’ separation or divorce, while 19% agreed that they sometimes felt like it was their fault.
The effect on young people is also surprising. Again, from the sample of 14-22 year olds affected by their parents’ divorce, 65% said that their GCSE exam results were affected while 44% say A-levels suffered. Almost a quarter (24%) said that they struggled to complete homework, essays or assignments.
More than one in 10 (11%) said they found themselves “getting into more trouble at school, college or university,” with 12% confessing to skipping lessons. Almost 1 in 5 (19%) saying that they completely lost contact with one or more grandparents.
A change in the law
Here at Downs Solicitors, we believe the divorce law needs to be reviewed to bring it up to date. We recently wrote a blog about stopping the divorce “blame game”, a tactic couples often turn to when no one is particularly at fault. As the law currently stands, a divorce will only be granted in certain circumstances, such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, or, where you and your spouse have lived apart for a continuous period of two years (and consent to the divorce), or five years or more without consent.
As you can imagine, where there is simply no fault, just that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, children can often be caught up in lengthy legal battles, as well as a war zone between their parents.
According to research by the Nuffield Foundation only 29% of respondents to a no fault divorce said that the reason they used in citing divorce very closely matched the reason for the separation. This just goes to show how many people could be stuck in no-fault marriage breakdowns and that many children could be caught in between.
Despite the upcoming festivities, this time of year has been coined “divorce season” as the stress of Christmas and the mounting bills get too much. Look out for a series of blogs coming soon, which could help you reconsider your own situation.
In the meantime, if you would like any advice relating to divorce, civil partnership dissolution or the care of children, Downs Solicitors can help. Contact our Family Law team to see if we can be of any assistance.