Impact of divorce and separation on childrens’ wellbeing

Posted on: January 7th, 2015

Amy Trench is a family solicitor at Coffin Mew and she answers some questions specifically about the impact on children when parents separate or divorce.

Can parental separation have a damaging impact on children?

In many cases it is not parental separation itself that damages the child but the parental conflict that comes with it. A recent survey undertaken by Resolution found many teens and young adults felt that their parents placed additional stresses on them during the process of break up.

Parents often inadvertently involve children in their dispute and if children consider themselves 50 percent mum and 50 percent dad, hearing one parent denigrate the other is like being criticised themselves.

It is important for parents contemplating separation to discuss the arrangements and the impact on their children.

What is Resolution?

Resolution consists of family lawyers and other professionals committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes.

We follow a Code of Practice that promotes a non-confrontational approach to family problems and encourage solutions that consider the needs of the whole family and in particular the best interests of the children.

What sort of negative effects can separation have on children?

In addition to a general disruption to family life and possibly less time with one or both parents, children will often end up not seeing their grandparents and the wider family circle as often.

The Resolution survey found 1 in 5 teenagers did not get the GCSE/A Level results they were hoping for due to their parents breaking up. In addition, a number of children have to move schools, which can have a knock-on effect on exam results. For children in private schooling, a discussion early in the separation process is important to ascertain whether it remains affordable and how the parents might continue to pay for this.

With social media on the rise, children can end up finding out online when one parent has a new partner and can suffer embarrassment and upset by a parent posting something on social media about their separation or divorce that was perhaps meant for their circle of friends.

What can separating parents do to minimise the stress for children?

If a couple are considering separation or divorce it is crucial, particularly where children are concerned, to try and resolve disagreements in an amicable way. There are many options available to parents as an alternative to a court based process including mediation, collaborative practice, arbitration and solicitor negotiation. You can discuss which process might be right for you and your former partner so that you both have control over the process and feel supported in trying to decide together what happens to your children after your separation, and how money and assets will
be divided.

The Coffin Mew family law team is consistently voted in the independent legal directories Chambers UK and Legal 500 as a top family team in Hampshire with a reputation for achieving solutions to family issues that are constructive, pragmatic and cost effective.