How Much is Your Divorce Costing Your Children?
"Almost half of all break-ups occur when there is at least one child in the relationship" according to Jo Edwards, the chairwoman of Resolution – an association of family lawyers in England & Wales. The impact of divorce on children should never be underestimated, and as parents, you should try to lessen that impact as much as possible.
Two Sides to the Story
There are 2 sides to this story and each must be weighed up on their own merit. Divorce, in its rawest form, can damage children. The survey revealed that nearly 1 in 3 children said one parent had attempted to turn them against the other and 1 in 4 said their parents tried to drag them into their dispute. This kind of divorce is one of the most damaging and unfortunately a common one.
One of the most affected areas of a child's life following divorce is their schoolwork. A solid education is the key to the future, but those surveyed, aged between 14 and 22, felt that their education suffered as a result of their parents break up. 20% felt they did not get the exams results they hoped for and 65% said their GCSE exam results suffered. Changes to their schooling experience were not the only negative effects that divorce had on these children. Young people's health was also impacted on by the break up leading in some cases to the use of drugs, alcohol and becoming a trigger for eating disorders. 16% of the young people surveyed said that they "started drinking alcohol" or drank more because of their parents' separation. This can only further be compounded by the fact that almost a fifth never saw their grandparents again and were embarrassed or upset by their parents who posted something about their separation or divorce on social media.
The second element to this story is that divorce done properly can be the right thing
for both the parents and the children. Watching the breakdown of your parents' relationship is traumatising and sticks with children well into their adult years. If nothing else, the survey highlights the responsibility parents have to their children to make the break in the best way possible, which helps to keep the focus on their wellbeing, both now and in the future. More couples who are breaking up are turning to mediation
and collaborative law to manage their split. A quicker, more cost effective solution to a messy court divorce not only benefits the parents, but also the children involved. It also goes some way to helping them see that despite their differences, their parents are still trying to be adult about the situation and attempting to maintain stability.
Alternatives to Divorce
Sir Paul Coleridge, a High Court family judge and founder of The Marriage Foundation commented on the statistics by saying "Children almost never perform at their highest potential when their emotional life is chaotic, and family breakdown is the arch contributor to that." The more resources and emphasis that is put on alternative methods of divorce such as mediation and collaborative law, the less acrimonious divorce will be. These findings are being released to coincide with Family Dispute Resolution Week
, also being run by Resolution to help families use alternatives to the court.