Today I was delighted to be invited back onto the sofa of ITV’s This Morning, to answer viewers’ questions and advise them on their divorce concerns.
The focus of today’s slot was the effect of divorce on children, prompted by actress Kate Winslet’s recent claim that divorce can sometimes be good for them.
Joining me on the sofa was veteran agony aunt Denise Robertson.
I have said before that it is possible to get a divorce without devastating your children, but I realise that this is very difficult to achieve. Such was the case with the first caller. She told us that if she had the chance to do things again, she would not have got divorced. While her eldest child was coping well, her youngest was not. Additionally, her youngest child had become very difficult to handle. The caller would rather have stayed in an unhappy marriage than gone through the divorce.
My advice was simple: look to the future and stay positive. People can get help from all sorts of places. Cafcass is a particularly good resource since, as the Children and Family Court Advisory Service, its primary function is to “ensure that children’s welfare is put first during proceedings” and it has a lot of helpful links.
As for her child, I said it was important she assert control. From what she told us, both her and her child sounded like they could benefit from some professional help to resolve their feelings.
The next caller took the very opposite view. She said that, when she was growing up, her parents stayed together despite being unhappy. It made for a very difficult childhood for her and her brother. Children can often be more aware than they are given credit for, and if their parents are unhappy they can tell. Even David Cameron has said that divorce is preferable to an unhappy home.
As I mentioned on the show, there has been something of a revolution in the courts since last April. There is now a single family court, and a higher focus on mediation, which is fantastic for child disputes. The Child Arrangement Programme introduced in April, the single Family Court, the new procedure with its emphasis on the child, the quicker process and enforcement procedures is all very much to be welcomed. Do take a look. It’s 32 paragraphs but well worth the read.
The effect of divorce on children is rightly the primary focus of parents who are considering the possible end of their marriage. Staying together for the children may seem like the best approach to some. However, children should not be brought up thinking that unhappy relationships are the norm.
My full appearance is available to watch here.