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Divorce law blog

In Denial? Differing perceptions of the effect of divorce on children.

22/01/2014   By: Sebastian Allen

The latest netmums.com report paints a pretty bleak picture of the hidden damage that divorce has on children. The statistics show that parents going through divorce are not as aware of the impact on their children as they first thought.

100 children and 1000 parents were surveyed separately and the results showed a worrying difference between how parents viewed the impact of divorce on their children and the perceptions of  the children themselves. For example:

  • 77% of separated couples think their kids coped well – but only 18% of children are happy their parents are no longer together
  • 10% of parents surveyed realised their child had seen them fighting - three times lower than the true figure
  • 31% of children surveyed witnessed their parents fighting while 1 in 20 (5%) of children surveyed consumed alcohol and 3% per cent took drugs to cope. Shockingly, 1 in 9 self-harmed (11%)
  • a further 6% of children surveyed considered suicide and 1 in 50 tried it, but were found in time
  • worryingly,1% of children surveyed found out that their parents were getting a divorce via text message!

There are obvious limitations with the report, such as its relatively small sample size. However, even if you’re not a fan of statistics there is still a clear message; parents should not underestimate the impact that divorce can have on a child. 

The focus of the survey is on how the children feel about their parents splitting up. It can be easy to view a divorce as a purely paper exercise, which tries to leave emotions behind in order to sort out the necessary legal processes. But, by its nature, divorce centres around the break up of a relationship or family, which will inevitably be an emotional process as well as a legal one. It isn’t surprising to read that the children in the report didn’t cope well with their parents’ divorce; these statistics show just how damaging the effects can be.

For the full results on the netmums.com website, click here

There is support available for those that need it. Our family law team at Mills & Reeve LLP recognises the importance of putting children first  and we recommend support services for parents to minimise the impact of separation. We would encourage parents to read the following helpful guidance.

Created by One Plus One, the UK’s leading relationships research organisation, The Parenting Connection provides a wide range of information, tools and exercises to help you really understand the issues that may be affecting your parenting relationship. It also includes a forum so that you can talk with others who may have been through separation. The materials and features on the site have been designed to support you as parents while you work things out for yourselves.

Comprehensive family support including mediation.

Sebastian Allen
Trainee Family Law Solicitor
Cambridge


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