A local family lawyer is campaigning for a change in the law to reduce the fallout from divorce on children, after figures released today revealed the impact of conflict between separating parents.
In a new poll, 79% of the population agreed conflict from divorce or separation can affect negatively children’s mental health, a figure rising to 87% among those who experienced their parents’ divorce as children. 77% said conflict could affect children’s academic performance and a further two-thirds felt social interactions and the ability to form healthy romantic relationships were also jeopardised.
Gill Graveson from Birchall Blackburn Law made the calls as part of a national Good Divorce Week that is being led by Resolution, who campaign for a fairer family justice system and commissioned the new YouGov poll.
Good Divorce Week aims to provide practical help, highlighting ways for separating parents to put their children’s needs first, as well as calling on government to urgently remove blame from the divorce process.
As 200,000 people divorce each year in England and Wales, an overwhelming 79% of the public support measures that would remove blame from the divorce process, with 71% believing change is urgently needed to reduce the negative impact on children.
Gill explained that while most parents she works with want to keep a child’s best interest at the forefront, the current fault-based divorce system can make this a challenge.
Gill said: “Each day I work with separating parents to help them resolve their own issues in a way that provides a fair outcome to everyone in the family especially any children. But often, even with the most amicable break up, the requirement to apportion blame for the breakdown of the marriage can create unnecessarily conflict that can threaten the entire process.”
Currently, unless a couple can prove they’ve been separated for 2 years with consent or 5 years without, the only way to get a divorce is to attribute blame. Around 60% of divorces in England and Wales are based on fault, compared with only 6-7% in Scotland where the law is different.
Many couples are surprised that they cannot just cite irreconcilable differences or say they’ve grown apart. With 90% of professionals saying current law makes it harder to reduce conflict between exes, Resolution has been campaigning for decades to remove blame from the divorce process. Evidence shows the impact of conflict stemming from the requirement to blame can have a detrimental effect on the couple and any children they may have.
Gill Graveson added that 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