Navigating Through Divorce and Separation
- AuthorSimon Leach
For those of us growing up in the 70s, whilst there were clearly single-parent families around, divorce was still the exception rather than the rule. It also often, and sadly, carried with it a social stigma, which could be all too apparent to those children suffering from the effects of divorce. Fifty years on, our own children tell us in an almost matter of fact fashion that a good percentage of their friends come from divorced parents with perhaps half as many again living with parents who are not married.
With the new online divorce service having witnessed 40,000 divorce petitions since 2018, it is apparent that we are now living in an age where the expectation is that couples will not live together for the duration of their adult lives and that their children can, therefore, expect to live in a whole variety of family arrangements, or to borrow a popular term, as part of a “blended family”.
With this in mind, it is encouraging to see a multitude of literature now available and designed to reduce the effects of what still remains a painful experience for all those involved in divorce and separation. Having the time to wade through this material and deciding what best suits your family is not, however, a luxury that most of us can afford. Nevertheless, there are some things that parents, children and those professionals working with separated families just really need to know.
Ignorance of the consequences of certain types of behaviour and misuse of language can often form a defining part of the divorce process, resulting in deep divisions and irreconcilable family relations. The number of parents who remain unable to constructively engage in decisions about their children alongside the number of children who have lost their relationship with one of their parents is, anecdotally, quite staggering and unacceptable on several levels. So, what’s to be done?
A working knowledge of neuroscience would be a start and certainly forms part of mediation training these days. A swift and accessible justice system would also help, as would a tailored and structured support service for parents and children experiencing divorce and separation. The fact that the good intentions of those who drafted Part II of the Family Law Act 1996 continue to be largely ignored some 24 years on is both a fallacy and a failure by successive governments to appropriately address the serious emotional and, sometimes, physical harm caused by conflict and division during the divorce process.
Information, education and guidance were the key words behind the proposed legislation in 1996 and are applicable today as they were then. Whilst the recently published report from the DWP's Help and Support for Separated Families pilot scheme makes some helpful recommendations, the test now will be whether and, if so, when the resources and support identified in the report are made available to all.
Of course, there will always be those who do not want or are unable to avoid conflict and, in such cases, the usual and only option will be to utilise the court system to enable the court to adopt an autocratic or paternalistic role in the decision making of the family. However, for the vast majority of people, their overriding aim is more likely to involve seeking a path which focuses on less recrimination, more cooperation and a desire to lay the foundations of a life beyond the emotional turmoil that may be prevailing at the time.
With the above in mind, Family Law Group has compiled a list of useful reading material and resources to parents and children experiencing divorce and separation. We hope this information will assist both our clients and those accessing our website in deciding how best to navigate their families through the emotional minefield of divorce and separation.
Here’s to a future where the divorce process is seen as less of a battle and more of a way to construct a new life.
Books for Children
For Elder Children
- When Parents Part: How mothers and fathers can help their children deal with separation and divorce by Penelope Leach
- Truth about Children and Divorce: Dealing with the Emotions So You and Your Children Can Thrive by Robert E. Emery
- Talking to Children about Divorce: A Parent’s Guide to Healthy Communication at each stage of Divorce by Jean A. McBride
Some Useful Resources