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Children want to play greater part in divorce process

Research from Resolution discloses thought processes of children experiencing their parents separating

23 November 2015

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Around eight in ten young people said that, despite their feelings at the time, they would have preferred their parents to split up rather than stay together if they were unhappy, a new poll has found.

The findings revealed fresh insights from youngsters aged 14 to 22 about the levels of involvement and amount of information they would like during a divorce.

When asked what advice they would give divorcing parents, one young person said: 'Don't stay together for a child's sake, better to divorce than stay together for another few years and divorce on bad terms.'

Meanwhile, another suggested children 'will certainly be very upset at the time but will often realise, later on, that it was for the best'.

The figures were published by ComRes on behalf of family law organisation Resolution and were released ahead of a parliamentary launch of new advice for divorcing parents.

Jo Edwards, chair of Resolution, said the new findings showed that children would sooner have their parents divorce rather than remain in an unhappy relationship.

'Being exposed to conflict and uncertainty about the future are what's most damaging for children, not the fact of divorce itself,' she said.

'This means it is essential that parents act responsibly, to shelter their children from adult disagreements and take appropriate action to communicate with their children throughout this process, and make them feel involved in key decisions, such as where they will live after the divorce.'

Edwards continued: 'We should be supporting parents to choose an out-of-court divorce method, such as mediation or collaborative practice. This will help parents to maintain control over the divorce and ensure their children's needs are, and remain, the central focus.'

The research showed that young people want greater involvement in decision making during the divorce process. For example, 62 per cent disagreed with the statement that their parents consulted them when deciding whether to separate or divorce.

Half of those surveyed indicated they did not have any say as to which parent they would live with or where they would live following separation or divorce.

Significantly, 88 per cent were of the opinion that children should not feel like they have to choose between parents.

Further statistics revealed that 47 per cent did not understand what was happening during separation and nearly two in ten felt that the divorce was their fault.

Nearly a third of respondents would have liked their parents to understand and experience what they were going through.

On a positive note, half of young people agreed that their parents put their needs first during divorce.

Matthew Rogers is an editorial assistant at Solicitors Journal

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