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Good divorce week: what’s it like for the children

“Good Divorce Week” is intended to draw attention to the urgent need to reduce conflict whenever relationships break down.

Inevitably, both parties will suffer.  Some will find it very difficult to cope.  They will feel hurt, rejection, anger, abandoned and fearful of the future.

But we must never forget the children.  The consequences of parents separating can never be underestimated and some children will suffer more than others.

Research undertaken in 2015 produced some very interesting results.

82% of children who had experienced the break-up of their family said they would prefer their parents to separate if they were unhappy.

More than 60% of children interviewed felt their parents had not ensured that they were part of the decision-making process in their parents’ separation or divorce.

Half of young people indicated that they didn’t have any say as to which parent they would live with or where they would live, and the vast majority felt that it was important that children weren’t pressurised into choosing between their parents.

Finally, about half of those children interviewed said they didn’t understand what was happening during their parents’ separation or divorce and 19% felt that it was their fault.

The consequences for young people are alarming, including poor academic performance, abuse of alcohol, experimenting or thinking about experimenting with drugs.

A significant number complained about one parent trying to turn them against the other and involving them in the intricacies of their dispute, and almost 1 in 5 said they completely lost contact with one or more of their grandparents.

Relationship breakdown cannot be avoided.

However, the pain and consequences of separation and divorce can be mitigated.

Children need to see that even if their parents can no longer live together, they can behave sensibly and responsibly and lovingly as parents.  In this way, children will be much more likely to overcome the consequences of their parent’s relationship breaking down and be able to make strong lasting relationships of their own.

Children must never be forgotten.

It should never be assumed that the children are “alright”.

The views of the children are important.

Specially trained mediators can see children in confidence and, if they agree, report back to their parents what they have said.  This, in turn, can help parents make sensible, informed decisions about what is best for the children in the future.

I was one of the first solicitors to be recognised as an accredited specialist by the Solicitors Family Law Association (now Resolution). I am also a qualified mediator with the Family Mediators Association and able to undertake direct consultation with children.

I am also a family arbitrator and very recently became one of the very first family arbitrators able to make decisions about children – for example, which parent they should live with and how much time they should spend with the other, as well as issues relating to their health and education.

If you need any support or advice on managing divorce and children, please contact me at the details below.


27 November 2018


Graham was based at the firm's London family law office. His career as a family law specialist has spanned three decades. He is an experienced advocate, mediator and arbitrator who has worked in all areas of family law.

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