Divorce solicitors at law firm Goughs are campaigning for a change in the law to reduce the fallout from divorce on children, after figures released last week revealed the impact of conflict between separating parents.
In a new poll, 79 percent of people agreed conflict from divorce or separation can negatively affect children’s mental health, a figure rising to 87 percent among those who experienced their parents’ divorce as children.
Seventy seven percent 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.
Ross Phillips, associate solicitor at Goughs made the calls as part of a national Good Divorce Week that is being led by Resolution, which campaigns 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 percent 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.
Ross explained that while most parents he works with want to keep a child’s best interest at the forefront, the current fault-based divorce system can make this a challenge.
“I have no doubt that laying the blame for the separation at the door of their spouse is important to some individuals," he said. "Emotions can run very high when a couple are separating for a multitude of reasons.
"But I expect all of my clients who have been forced to petition on the basis of the other’s fault would have appreciated taking the blame out of the equation from the very beginning. They are often forced to do so in order to obtain the financial protection they need earlier, rather than wait two or five years which leaves the parties tied to the other by marriage, but often financially as well.
"I firmly believe most of those who chose to blame their other half for the divorce regret having to do so, either because of the impact on them as individuals or due the friction then caused when trying to co-parent their children and the distress they suffer seeing their parents at war.
"There is certainly no substantial benefit to divorcing their other half on fault-based grounds when it comes to achieving a financial settlement.”