I listened with interest to a debate on You and Yours on Radio 4 on Tuesday about divorce and separation. The wide-ranging item ably covered a full deck of topics, from children's rights and a review of the current guidelines by Sir Nicholas Wall, to collaborative law and mediation. It is rare for a subject so obviously close to my heart to get so much air time so I have to give a hearty thanks to Radio 4 for highlighting such a swathe of issues. It was obviously promoted by comments made by Sir Nicholas the other week about parents using children as "ammunition" in divorce.
One thing I took away from it was talk of the "normalisation of divorce and separation" - effectively how everyone these days seems happy to accept that divorce is commonplace and to just get on with things.
The point being made was that divorce is not normal and should not be viewed as such. Think of the huge impact it has on families and children in particular. These are things we would not wish on anyone in an ideal world – as I was saying in a recent blog.
I completely agree with this sentiment. Modern society seems to have arrived at a point of acceptance for many things that a few years ago would certainly not have been considered “right”. When it is all around us with celeb break-ups in the papers, soap storylines revolving around love triangles and even The Archers having a couple (Kenton and Kathy!) going through a separation, it is perhaps understandable how people have become immune to the seriousness of the condition.
However, it remains that divorce is not nice and it should not be considered normal. What it is is a reality of modern day life. For our part, I believe those involved in guiding people through the process, such as family lawyers, should do what they can to minimise stress through the process and offer a raft of ancillary services and advice, like pointing clients in the direction of fellow professionals to look at the finances of a settlement, advise on mediation or suggest a role for a coach to play in getting someone’s life back on track. Offering such joined up service is what should be normal but is still sadly lacking in my experience.
Getting a divorce is fairly straightforward. But getting through the process unscathed and in an amicable way with your ex is less easy. Following simple guidelines like avoiding seeking revenge, using your support network and keep the children out of the firing line will help and are among the top tips we give to people to help them through what is a far from normal situation. Do you have some winning advice that you would give to someone to help them through? Please do let me know.
But let’s none of us think that any of this is normal.