Staying together “for the sake of the kids” may not be the best answer

Amanda Crowe Cropped

Family law organisation Resolution commissioned a survey of young people aged 14-22 with experience of parental separation. Resolution wanted to establish the levels of involvement children had during their parents’ separation and divorce, and also what level and amount of information the children would have liked during their parents’ divorce. The findings were released on 23 November 2015 ahead of a parliamentary launch of new advice for divorcing parents.

The findings of the poll reveal that around eight out of ten children and young people with experience of parental separation or divorce would prefer their parents to split up if they are unhappy, rather than stay together. An overwhelming majority of 82% of the young people who took the survey said that, despite their feelings at the time, they felt it was ultimately better that their parents divorced rather than stay together unhappily for the sake of their children.

The poll also revealed that 47% did not understand what was happening during their parents’ separation or divorce and 62% of children and young people disagreed with the statement that their parents made sure they were part of the decision-making process about their separation or divorce. 50% of those surveyed also stated that they did not have any say as to which parent they would live with or where they would live following the divorce. Many of the young people (88%) also made it very clear that they felt parents should not make children feel like they have to choose between their parents.

On the positive side, the research also revealed that 50% of young people agreed that their parents put their needs first during their separation or divorce. This survey highlights that more parents need to try and remain as amicable as possible with each other when dealing with a separation or divorce. It also shows that children and young people need reassurance during what is a stressful time for the whole family unit, that it is not their fault and that their parents will also consider their views when making decisions about the future.

At a special event with MPs and Peers in parliament later this week, Resolution will be calling for the government to share the Parent Charter, which was developed by Resolution earlier this year, with all divorcing parents. The event will also see the launch of an online advice guide developed by Resolution to help divorcing parents manage their relationship with their children and with each other during separation.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee, Suffolk Solicitors.

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