It will come as no surprise that divorce has a negative impact on children, but studies have shown that it is the resulting conflict that has a long-term detrimental effect on their wellbeing rather than the separation itself.
A new YouGov poll commissioned by Resolution, the organisation that campaigns for a fairer family justice system, found that 79 per cent of people agreed that conflict from divorce or separation can negatively affect a child’s mental health.
While 77 per cent said conflict could affect a child’s academic performance and a further two-thirds of respondents felt social interactions and the ability to form healthy romantic relationships were also jeopardised.
These disturbing statistics have been released to coincide with Good Divorce Week, which runs from 26-30 November. The aim is to highlight the ways for separating parents to put their children’s needs first and to call on the government to urgently remove blame from the divorce process.
In my experience, most couples do want to put the best interests of their children first, but the current fault-based divorce system can make this extremely difficult.
Even with the most amicable break-up, the requirement to apportion blame for the breakdown of a marriage can create significant conflict and unnecessary upset for children.
Currently, unless a couple can prove that they’ve been separated for two years with consent or five years without, the only way to get a divorce is to attribute blame.
Around 60 per cent of divorces in England and Wales are based on fault, compared with only six to seven per cent in Scotland where the law is different.
With an estimated 200,000 people in England and Wales divorcing each year, a significant number of children are left dealing with the long-term effects of that conflict.
I personally favour a change in the law to introduce no-blame divorce as a way of removing unnecessary additional distress for couples and their children in what is already an emotional and distressing time for families.