Putting children first when you separate.

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Conflict can have  serious long-term effects on children. Studies have shown that it’s not the separation or divorce proper that has an impact, but rather the conflict arising from it that negatively affects their well-being.

So, what do young people think about their parents separating? A ComRes Survey of 14 to 22 year olds in 2015 found:  (2015 ComRes survey)

  • Of those who have experienced family breakups, 82% would prefer their parents to part if they are unhappy.
  • More than 60% felt their parents had not ensured they were part of the decision-making process in their separation or divorce.
  • Half of young people indicated they did not have any say as to which parent they would live with or where they would live.
  • 88% agreed it was important to make sure children do not feel like they have to choose between parents.
  • About half admitted not understanding what was happening during their parents’ separation or divorce, while 19% agreed that they sometimes felt like it was their fault.

And how does divorce and separation affect young people? (2014 ComRes survey)

  • 19% said they didn’t get the exam results they were hoping for.
  • The majority (65%) say that their GCSE exam results were affected while 44% say A-levels suffered.
  •  Almost a quarter (24%) said that they struggled to complete homework, essays or assignments.
  • More than one in 10 (11%) said they found themselves “getting into more trouble at school, college or university,” with 12% confessing to skipping lessons.
  • 14% of the young people surveyed said they started drinking alcohol, or drinking more alcohol than previously, while almost three in ten (28%) said that they started eating more or less than previously.
  • 13% admitted to experimenting, or thinking about experimenting with drugs as a result of their parents’ break-up.
  • 32% of respondents said one parent tried to turn them against the other.
  • More than 1 in 4 (27%) said their parents tried to involve them in their dispute.
  • Almost 1 in 5 (19%) saying that they completely lost contact with one or more grandparents.

Mediation can be a way of minimising the conflict which can have such serious consequences for children. If mediation isn’t an option then a solicitor who has signed up to the Resolution code of conduct will help you ensure that conflict is kept to a minimum and that your children’s interests are put first.

Rebecca Kershaw is an accredited mediator and a member of Resolution. Get in touch with her by email rebeccak@ksandc.co.uk or phone 01405 813108.

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