January 10, 2014

Considering divorce? Why children must always be top priority

By Kate Banerjee, head of the children’s department

Can there ever be a good separation or divorce? According to the latest survey undertaken by YouGov on behalf of relationship experts Relate, the answer is a resounding no.

Almost six in 10 separated parents (58%) who were surveyed said they did not believe in the idea of a ‘good’ divorce, and 52% of parents admit that their separation had had a negative impact on their children.

These latest statistics come on the back of a report published by netmums, which revealed that most divorcing parents are in denial when it comes to understanding how splitting up can affect their children.

Irrespective of these surveys, in my experience there is no question that children can be the innocent victims when their parents separate and divorce.

It’s one reason why I welcome not only the Government’s plans for couples to consider mediation before divorce (from April 6) but also Relate’s new campaign aimed at separating and separated parents.

Being Parents Apart will offer guidance and support to families across the country, helping to make sure that children and young people cope with any heartache and changes in the best way possible.

That’s why on meeting a client for the first time, my colleagues and I take the time to discuss the welfare of their children. In fact, we believe in spending as much time discussing them as the actual divorce and financial issues – which is why we have a specialist department focusing solely on the interests of children.

As the netmums’ survey rightly reveals, the majority of parents are completely unaware of the impact their divorce will have on their offspring and believe they are coping well.

The reality is very different. Children are good actors and we know from our own experience that they are adept at hiding their feelings – partly because they do not want to add to the upset and also because many blame themselves. Our recent guest blog from Kids in the Middle is a heartfelt personal account of the long term impact of divorce on children.

Much more needs to be done to ensure that children do not become the victims of a broken marriage. We always give our clients good support and advice as well as access to useful help books and counsellors – our objective is to help them identify any potential problems and avoid them.

Parents themselves also have to take responsibility – it is important they realise that they are not the only ones going through a life changing process and the interests of their children should be paramount.

Disputes with an ex-partner should not become issues for their children – it is imperative that parents warring over areas such as contact and shared residency take a step back and look at the detrimental effect this will be having on their children.

Next week you can read a guest blog from Relate about their new Being Parents Apart campaign.

For more information on how we can help, please call us on 0113 246 0055, leave us a comment below or drop us an e-mail. You can also follow us on Twitter: @helpwithdivorce.