Children face the brunt of bitter divorces

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A recent survey carried out by Mischcon de Reya suggests that children often get caught up in vindictive legal battles during divorces.

Many parents said their child's welfare was their upmost priority, but over 50% said they had been to court regarding access and one in five wanted to damage their ex-partner.

The survey had worrying results:

  • one in three children lost contact with their father
  • a quarter of parents believed there child was so traumatised by the divorce that they harmed themselves or even contemplated suicide
  • 50% of parents admitted putting their children through intrusive court processes
  • 49% of parents admitted to deliberately prolonging the legal process to get their desired outcome
  • 68% of parents said they had used their children as bargaining tools after separation
  • 20% of parents also admitted to actively trying to make their ex-partners experience as difficult as possible regardless of how it made the children feel
  • 50% of children said their parents took no notice of their views during the separation
  • 42% of children said they had witnessed aggressive rows and 17% had seen violent fights

The government has commented that the 20-year scope of the survey meant that the results were out of date.

However the results do seem to suggest that even though counselling and practical legal support are now given to families it may not be enough and that more should be done to protect the children during these times.

England's Children's Minister Delyth Morgan said: "Divorce and separation can have a devastating impact on children caught in the middle. But this survey looking as far back as 20 years ago, simply doesn't reflect what support is available for families now. "

"Mediation and support can be far better for children than going through the court system because it tackles the root cause of disputes – that's why we have acted to give families comprehensive counselling, practical and legal support."

A consultation document on families and relationships is expected before the end of this year.

Paul Hicks, Head of Simpson Millar LLP's family law department commented "we offer a collaborative family law service which means we can help you manage the divorce process in a dignified manner without having to go to court. We can then ensure that a rational solution is found and reduce the pain of family breakdowns."

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