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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Divorce battleground damages children


Divorce is not good and not a nice thing. In an ideal world it wouldn’t be necessary and I would have to embark on a different career. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind if it meant that all relationships were loving and happy and all children grew up in a nurturing environment with two caring parents.

Sadly though we know we do not live in a Disney land and the reality is that divorce is commonplace.
Many children cope with it incredibly well. Others struggle more but come out the other end strong. For another sector, it can be the catalyst for a number of things going wrong in later life. Divorce is bad for all concerned, particularly children who find their world turned upside down as their parents go their separate ways, often acrimoniously and often with children at the centre of bitter access disputes.

On this point, I was interested this week to read the comments of president of the Family Division of the High Court Sir Nicholas Wall, hammering home the message that parents can do their children enormous harm in divorce by using them as “ammunition” on the “battlefield”.

Speaking to the charity Families Need Fathers, he said well-educated parents were particularly adept at using their children in this way and that a less adversarial approach is needed in the family justice system to help protect young people.

He said: “Parents simply do not realise the damage they do to their children by the battles they wage over them. Separating parents rarely behave reasonably, although they always believe that they are doing so, and that the other party is behaving unreasonably.”

Well said! Children naturally have a loyalty to both parents. They are left in no-mans-land when both start fighting with each other which can only add to any feelings of loss, isolation and separation and damage a child’s self-worth.

What can we do to help and what is the best way forward? There is a strong case to be made that in most cases, children benefit from the parenting of both parents even after they have separated. To this end, shared parenting orders could be used more widely – either at the behest of judges or of Parliament. This means that the child or children live with each parent at different times. These are becoming more commonplace but are still perhaps not the norm.

However, is not a more simple, effective and immediate tactic to work towards getting parents to really think of their children rather than themselves when going through a divorce to keep them out of the firing line?

Andrew Woolley
Divorce Solicitor


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I think that parents don’t realize the effect they have on the children. In fact, the opposite is true. One parent so wounded by their spouse wants to protect the child from the same wounding not realizing that the child doesn’t need that protection. Parents project their fears onto their children. In working with parents and teens, I see this so often. The mother is fearing that her daughter will do things she did or suffer the way she suffered as a teen and so projects that fear on her daughter. Her daughter is obviously confused because she isn’t experiencing what mom is experiencing. Now take this to mom villifying dad to daughter to protect her from the hurts mom experienced from dad. Daughter is confused, dad to her is good. And it goes on from there….. ...

By Theresa Hayes on Thursday September 30, 2010

It is hard on children. I saw this first hand when I went through my divorce. My son held out hope of my ex and I getting back together for years. Even after I had remarried. Fortunately, we did not fight over the kids. We let them know that they were not to blame and that the fault lay with our deeply flawed relationship.

Today, my children are 17 and 19. My daughter, the eldest, is independent, hard working and wary of getting into marriage. I don’t see this as altogether bad because she won’t jump into something she is not ready for.

My son has had greater difficulty, but he is a good kid with definite goals he wants to reach. None of them include marriage right now, though he doesn’t rule it out later (he is only 17).

Looking back, there are a number of things we could have done differently for the kids. And ourselves. But, overall, the key things were letting the kids know they were loved, that they were not to blame for anything regarding the divorce and being honest about, but not bad-mouthing each other to them. I would openly gripe about my ex, and he about me, but it was never done in such a way that it would turn the kids against one or the other. In fact, my line was “I want you to love your daddy. He loves you. But he makes me crazy sometimes. This is why we aren’t married anymore.” ...

By Mary Kalebel on Thursday September 30, 2010

the best outcomes I have found are parents who learn to work for “the best interests” of their children….. it’s a difficult concept but enormous results if it can be done ...

By Kerri Quintal on Friday October 8, 2010

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