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Parents hugely underestimate the effect of divorce on children, study suggests

Children are three times more likely to witness rows and arguments between divorcing parents than their mothers and fathers realise, a new study suggests.

Mothering website Netmums carried out separate surveys of parent and children on their experiences of divorce. Just ten per cent of parents said they though their children had seen them fighting, while 31 per cent of the children had actually done so.

Seventy-seven per cent of the parents said they thought their children had “coped well” with the divorce but less than 18 per cent of the children said they were happy that their parents were no longer together.

Almost one third of the children said they had been left “devastated” by the divorce. One in eight blamed themselves for the divorce, and one in 12 said they thought the divorce meant their parents didn’t love them.

The study also highlighted coping behaviours used by some of the children of divorce – 20 per cent drank, 11 per cent self-harmed, and three per cent took drugs.

Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard says: “Divorce may be a little word but it has a huge effect. It’s estimate that one in three children see their parents separate before the age of 16. While experts acknowledge it is better to come from a broken family than live in one, this research shows not enough is being done to support youngsters through the break-up process.”

She added:

“While divorce maybe the best thing for many families, we have to ensure children are helped to understand the split isn’t their fault and that they are still loved. To flourish, children need security and while we will never see a society free from break ups, we should be investing more time, more care and more money into making sure our youngsters have all the support they need to get through this difficult time.”

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Tristan says:

    Online forums make their own unique contribution to the problems through the extreme advice some members give to others on how to go about dealing with problems of divorce and separation. This ‘advice’ typically describes how best to screw a father over, either in court or with the police.

  2. Name Witheld says:

    I am always interested in what you have to say, even though I am not in the UK -am living in France and have been in divorced in France for the last two years- English husband working in Middle East, he brought French divorce 2006, and Appeal Court judgement ruled that the settlement be done according to English Law. I feel well protected, but as yet ( 2 yrs on from Divorce ) my ex-husband refuses to respect the Appeal Court judgement on settlement . I am about to go back to Court in France to ask for an enforcement – so I have a some of questions:

    How unusual is this judgement and how can I find a precedent to enable my Lawyer to help me?

    What help can European Law be to me, and are there any ‘big guns’ in law to support me as far as an enforcement order goes?

    What happens if either one of us dies before the settlement is completed?

    I feel very alone in a wilderness – he has our family money and I am on the breadline! Surely this can’t be the first time this ruling has occurred – and as we are in Europe, how do I cope with this? I am on Legal Aid here. Iam 67, he is 69

    Please can you help. I have been in touch with one of your Lawyers, but I do not wish to try to bring this enforcement to UK – I want to enforce the judgement in France. I am looking for some precedent and facts that I can quote to the Court. My ex-husband is moving/concealing substantial marital assets,has cut off all financial support, has employed delaying tactics for eight years and is still attempting to intimidate/humiliate me as before through his Lawyer… it was an abusive marriage. He is working for an English-based worldwide company, in the Middle East.

    I cannot believe
    a) that my ex-husband is able to get away with this utter contempt for the French Court Judgement.
    b) that there is no protection for me in this situation

    What can I DO! I need suggestions urgently please…or at least to be pointed in the direction of some method of legal protection.

    Many thanks….

  3. Charlie Noah says:

    The impact of divorce on youngsters can be very essential for kids or own family environment. Different children must react to divorce in exclusive methods.

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