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Time to end the divorce blame game

The vast majority of separating parents want to keep their child’s best interests at heart and try to shield them from the animosity that divorce often brings.

Unfortunately, with more than 100,000 divorces in England and Wales each year, thousands of children do get caught up in the emotional turmoil.

As the law currently stands, unless a couple have been separated for 2 years and consent to the divorce, or 5 years without consent, the only way to divorce is to put one or the other party at fault. Behaviour is the most common fact used in all divorces.

Resolution has been campaigning for an end to the ‘blame game’ for many years and believes that change is now urgently needed to reduce the negative impact on children.

David Kirkham, family law solicitor, said: “We work with separating couples to help them find a way to reach a fair outcome in a non-confrontational way, but the current divorce law can increase conflict between ex-partners. As this research demonstrates, often children suffer a great deal because of the hostility between their parents when they separate.

Reforming the law would help separating couples to focus more on solutions than on who was at fault in the past. This should support couples as they try and amicably agree the arrangements for their children or sort out their finances, without the need to go to court. If agreements can be reached quickly and outside of court, then children are less likely to be exposed to parents being stressed or angry.

Resolution, of which I am proud to be an accredited member, is always seeking to reduce confrontation and encourage families to put the best interests of children first. It is great that they are raising the profile of this issue.”

Just how damaging a divorce can be has been uncovered in a recent survey commissioned by Resolution as part of their ‘Good Divorce Week’ campaign. The results make stark reading.

Almost a third of young people (14-22 years) said they were dragged in to their parent’s disputes with one parent trying to turn them against the other. Almost a fifth lost contact with one or more grandparent.

Education also suffers, with 65% saying that their GCSE results were affected and 44% feeling their A levels suffered. One in 10 found they were getting in more trouble at school.

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 are available at www.resolution.org.uk/GoodDivorceWeek

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