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Figures show true impact of divorce on children

View profile for Claire Knight
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Making the decision to divorce or separate is a life-changing one for everyone involved, and while it’s the parents who ultimately make that choice, they’re not the only ones who suffer.  Recent figures from family lawyers’ association, Resolution, show that some children not only perform worse at school, but also turn to drink and drugs in an attempt to block out what is happening at home.

The Resolution survey included 4,031 UK adults and 500 young people aged between 14 and 22 who had divorced or separated parents.  “Of the 500 young people questioned, around 20% said their exam results had suffered, with over half of those being their GCSE’s and just under half struggling with their A levels,” explains Claire Knight, Family Lawyer.  “Achievement at school and during exams is extremely important for children of this age with their future careers and consequently their lifestyle potentially depending on their success in school.

“It’s not just school that can determine a child’s future, but also their behaviour,” continues Claire.  “The survey found that 14% of those surveyed turned to alcohol and 13% to drugs, with a further 28% altering their eating habits.

“It’s impossible for children who are going through a divorce to not be affected by it, but there are ways to manage the situation that can keep this to a minimum,” explains Claire.  “It’s key that parents put the children’s interests first and don’t become more concerned with how the arrangements impact on the other parent than the child.  They may feel that this is the only way to manipulate the situation to get what they want, but the realisation is that they’re hurting the children more than the other party.  Most parents may feel that they wouldn’t do this if ever faced with divorce, but it may be surprising to know that over a quarter (27%) of the young people surveyed stated their parents had tried to involve them in the separation, and sadly almost 20% had completely lost contact with one or more grandparents following a divorce.”

For those parents faced with the difficult prospect of a divorce, there are ways to make it easier for the children.  “Make sure children feel like they can talk to you about how they’re feeling,” begins Claire.  “Some children may not want to approach the subject with their parents as they don’t want to cause upset, but it’s important to remember that they’re experiencing it too.”

Attending Mediation can be an effective way to resolve any issues when it comes to making arrangements for the children. Claire concludes, “Parents will more than likely be feeling angry and upset and this can cloud their judgement when making decisions with the children’s best interests at heart, such as where they will live, time spent with each parent, any medical treatment etc.  Mediation allows both parents to resolve their problems in a neutral environment with an independent mediator, and this can have a significant impact on allowing the parents to step back and taking the animosity out of the situation.”

If you need help or advice on getting divorced, or you’re keen to find out more about mediation, contact Claire or the Family Team on 02380 717431 or visit the Family section here.

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.