Keeping children first helps minimise fallout from family breakdown


28 November 2018

Birketts’ Family Law Team are campaigning for a change in the law to reduce the fallout from divorce on children, after figures released today revealed the impact of conflict between separating parents.

In a new poll, 79% of the population agreed conflict from divorce or separation can negatively affect children’s mental health, a figure rising to 87% among those who experienced their parents’ divorce as children. 77% said conflict could affect children’s academic performance and a further two-thirds felt social interactions and the ability to form healthy romantic relationships were also jeopardised.

Oliver Gravell from Birketts made the calls as part of a national Good Divorce Week that is being led by Resolution, who campaign for a fairer family justice system and commissioned the new YouGov poll.

Good Divorce Week aims to provide practical help, highlighting ways for separating parents to put their children’s needs first, as well as calling on government to urgently remove blame from the divorce process.

As 200,000 people divorce each year in England and Wales, an overwhelming 79% of the public support measures that would remove blame from the divorce process, with 71% believing change is urgently needed to reduce the negative impact on children.

Oliver Gravell explained that while most parents he works with want to keep a child’s best interest at the forefront, the current fault-based divorce system can make this a challenge.

He said:"Every day I work with couples going through divorces and encourage them to resolve their issues fairly and amicably for everyone in the family; most importantly the children. The requirement to place blame on the other party for the breakdown of the relationship, rather than simply being able to explain that the marriage has just not worked out, makes this extremely difficult and creates unnecessary conflict and negativity. In my experience, this requirement of blame has a detrimental effect on the couple and any children they may have.

Currently, unless a couple can prove they’ve been separated for two years with consent, or five years without, the only way to get a divorce is to attribute blame. Around 60% of divorces in England and Wales are based on fault, compared with only 6-7% in Scotland where the law is different.

90% of professionals agree that the current law makes it harder to reduce conflict between exes and so Resolution has been campaigning for decades to remove blame from the divorce process."

Oliver added that Resolution has made resources available, both to the public but also local practitioners, to help them campaign to change the system and raise awareness of the long-term impact this conflict can have on children. These resources are available at www.resolution.org.uk/GoodDivorceWeek.

For further information please contact Oliver Gravell or a member of Birketts' Family Law Team. Law covered as at November 2018.

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