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Minimising the impact of conflict on children Minimising the impact of conflict on children

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Nov 18

Minimising the impact of conflict on children

Written by Claire Hunter
Solicitor

DDI: 01423 726620

E: claire.hunter@raworths.co.uk

Good Divorce Week (26-30 November 2018) aims to provide practical help, highlighting ways for separating parents to put their children’s needs first, as well as calling on the government to urgently remove blame from the divorce process.

Conflict can have some serious long-term effects on children. Studies have shown that it is not the separation or divorce itself that has an impact, but rather the conflict stemming from it that often has a detrimental impact on their well-being.

Raworths is a member of Resolution, a body representing a large number of family solicitors.  We are committed to reducing conflict and agreeing a non-confrontational way of working that puts the best interests of children first.

200,000 people divorce each year in England and Wales, and an overwhelming 79% of the public support measures that would remove blame from the divorce process, with 71% believing change is urgently needed to reduce the negative impact on children. Divorce is always difficult, but having to show fault can increase the conflict between the couple and make it more difficult to sort out child and financial arrangements.

The current law says, unless you have been separated for 2 years with consent, or 5 years without, you have to divorce on the grounds of adultery or behaviour. In 2016, the majority (60%) of divorces in England and Wales were granted on adultery and behaviour. Without trivialising it, it has been named ‘the blame game’. It can have very serious consequences for the couple and any children they might have. Urgent reform is needed to remove blame from the process to reduce the negative impact of conflict on children.

Below are some divorce facts: Divorce in England and Wales

  • There are over 100,000 divorces in England and Wales each year. (ONS 2018)
  • Behaviour is the most common Fact used for opposite-sex divorce (52%) and same-sex divorce (83% among women, 73% among men. (ONS 2018)
  • In 2015, 60% of divorces in England and Wales were granted on adultery and behaviour, compared with just 6-7% in Scotland where the law is different (Finding Fault 2017)
  • National opinion survey showed only 29% of respondents to a fault divorce said that the Fact used very closely matched the reason for the separation. (Finding Fault, 2017)
  • Fault is associated with shorter marriages, and evidence shows that fault enables a quick exit from a marriage. (Finding fault 2017)

What Resolution members think of current law (2018 Resolution survey)

  • 90% say current law makes it harder to reduce conflict between ex-partners.
  • 67% say the current law makes it harder for separated parents to reach agreements.
  • 80% feel the introduction of no fault divorce would help separating couples reach an agreement out of court.

What young people (14-22 year olds) think (2015 ComRes survey)

  • 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.
  • Half of young people indicated they did not have any say as to which parent they would live with or where they would live.
  • 88% agreed it was important to make sure children do not feel like they have to choose between parents.
  • 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.
  • Resolution’s research suggested that many parents handle their separations well: 50% of young people agreed that their parents put their needs first.

How divorce and separation affects young people (14-22 year olds) (2014 ComRes survey)

  • 19% said they didn’t get the exam results they were hoping for.
  • The majority (65%) say 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.
  • 14% of the young people surveyed said they started drinking alcohol, or drinking more alcohol than previously, while almost three in ten (28%) said that they started eating more or less than previously.
  • 13% admitted to experimenting, or thinking about experimenting with drugs as a result of their parents’ break-up.
  • 32% of respondents said one parent tried to turn them against the other.
  • More than 1 in 4 (27%) said their parents tried to involve them in their dispute.
  • Almost 1 in 5 (19%) saying that they completely lost contact with one or more grandparents.

For further information about how our Family team could help you, please contact Claire Hunter on 01423 566666 or email claire.hunter@raworths.co.uk

Raworths is a member a member of Resolution, is a body representing a large number of family solicitors in England and Wales who are committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes. There are around 6,500 Resolution members, all of whom are committed to the Resolution Code of Practice. The Code of Practice promotes a constructive approach to family issues and considers the needs of the whole family, in particular the best interests of children.

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