My last blog got me thinking. That's a new one. I do generally think about these pearls of wisdom before I take finger to keyboard, but the last offering had me thinking on the topic a bit more deeply.
We were talking about how to tell children about divorce and I suggested some guidelines which I hope could help make a difficult situation slightly easier for any offspring involved. Ultimately though, it is still going to be heartbreaking for them and in many cases made worse by that fact that some warring parents will not show a united front, or give great thought to how they tell their children, or avoid using the opportunity to score points against their estranged partner with some well slung mud.
No, it would be best for all if children were kept out of divorce altogether. Is this realistic? Well, the likelihood of a "cure" for divorce and separations is unlikely - and if it was possible I am sure my peers would not be keen.
So what is the alternative? I do run a family law firm so it is in my commercial interest to offer the best possible service for couples wanting to divorce or separate. However, I believe this responsibility extends beyond legal services to all matters relating to the topic. For instance, we have just sponsored five free places for children on workshops being run by one of our allied professions to help children work through a divorce. They are the first of their kind but could be commonplace in future as a way of helping children (and, by association, parents) cope.
But taking this sort of activity forward, shouldn't one of our key battle cries be that parents are for life? "Parents, ‘til death us do part”, “Divorce the wife/husband - not the kids”, that sort of thing. Putting the children and their rights at the forefront of all considerations in a divorce should be a responsibility for all concerned to help them through and protect them from some of the less savoury aspects of the process. They are victims of the process, not foot soldiers to be deployed to best tactical advantage.
Parents getting divorced means they stop becoming husband and wife. They never stop being parents. The more lawyers and others involved in the divorce process can do to help warring parents find ways to remember this and work towards making it work as parents for the sake of their children, the better. They don't have to agree on everything - parents living together don't - but having children means we (as I’m a parent too) should work at that commitment for life.