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Divorce law blog

Putting Children First

20/11/2015   By: Jane Booth

Family Dispute Resolution Week

Resolution’s Family Dispute Resolution Week 2015 starts on 23 November 2015 and the theme for this year’s Family Dispute Resolution Week is “putting children first.” Resolution have surveyed children and young people about their experience of parental breakup to find out whether children feel they have been given appropriate information, explanation and the chance to be involved in decision-making during their parents’ divorce.

Although the results have not yet been published, it is understood that they will contain further efforts to include children in decision-making around divorce and separation.

There are some additional ways that you can help your kids through the process, these include:

Emotional Impact

Divorce ranks only second to bereavement regarding the level of stress it generates in a person’s life and the impact on your children’s feelings cannot be underestimated. Children will experience a wide range of emotions and sometimes it is difficult to know which changes in their behaviour are normal and which are related to their parents separation.

The emotions children experience are often similar to those experienced by the parents, this can include denial, anger and depression. Resolution have produced a helpful booklet titled Separation and Divorce – Helping parents to help children, which can be found here. This booklet contains some signs to spot the emotional impact and some suggestions as to how to deal with the impact.

Minimising Conflict

It is important to remember that you will need to rely on each other as parents in the future and the wellbeing of your child depends on that. The first responsibility of any parent should be to minimise conflict and support your child’s relationship with the other parent. There is also a lot of information on the putting children first page on divorce.co.uk, including links to parenting plans.

Story books

It can sometimes assist children of various different ages to read stories where the characters are also experiencing their parents’ divorce or separation. There are a number of different books by well-known authors who address the issue in a reassuring and understanding way. We have summarised some of them on the following page.

There is likely to be a lot more information available following Family Dispute Resolution Week to ensure that the voice of the child is being heard and that children are involved and helped through the process in the most appropriate way.

Jane Booth
Family Law Associate

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