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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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