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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Children want more family time

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I know Christmas is well behind us now and most of us are bravely facing the new year head on while trying not to think back on the cosy, quiet days of doing very little in December. However, there is an interesting poll I have only just picked up on that relates to Christmas but perhaps gives us some useful pointers for the year ahead that I wanted to share with you.

A poll carried out for holiday camp company Butlins revealed that nearly half of children would rather Santa brought them more time with their parents and immediate family than toys and stocking fillers. In addition, 25 per cent of children said they were hoping to get seasonal visits from favourite aunts and uncles and other family members whom they rarely see at other times of year – though 15 per cent worry that this will lead to arguments during the gatherings.

It is perhaps a damning indictment of our fast-paced lifestyles that 40 per cent of children aged six to 16 feel they would rather have more time with mummy and daddy than presents at Christmas. It suggests that many families are putting themselves under increased pressure of conflict by not making enough time for each other. Surely if the kids feel like this, one or other of the parents may also feel they don’t spend enough time together? This sort of feeling starts with vague unease but can fester into something potentially fatal for a marriage.

In the current economic climate, more than ever, adults are having to work harder and longer just to maintain the same standard of living as the previous year. But if that leads to a neglect of family life, it can ultimately have a negative effect on family security and cost more if it descends into the realms of divorce and an ongoing fragmented family.

January is traditionally the time when we family lawyers get most calls and enquiries about divorce. Couples on the brink limp through the stresses of Christmas but feel enough is enough once the festivities are over. They want to start the new year with a new direction and we are duty bound to correctly advise them and guide them through it. But as a new year resolution for family lawyers, can’t we try this year to highlight wherever possible the potential benefits to family life of actually spending more time with family? After all, we are among the best placed to warn people about how badly things can go if they do not give enough time to their home life. This might not be the best business advice for us if we want to increase turnover, but there is still plenty of work out there and surely it is morally the right thing to do? One saved marriage will make it worthwhile.

Andrew Woolley
Family solicitor

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