With the excitement of Black Friday and Cyber Monday out of the way, this week marks Resolution's annual awareness campaign. The theme being "good divorce".
Resolution are a national organisation of family lawyers and professionals who are committed to a non-confrontational and constructive resolution of disputes relating to family law matters. It has around 6,500 members who sign up to a "Code of Practice" focused on reducing and managing conflict and putting the best interests of children first.
The purpose of the campaign is to shine a light on the potential damage which can be caused by our current "fault based" divorce system and to highlight how separating or divorcing parents can limit the impact on their children.
What is a "good divorce"?
The term "good divorce" is an interesting phrase and in some ways is contradictory. A natural pre-cursor to divorce is a relationship breakdown. Relationship breakdowns can be difficult for parties at a time when emotions are often running high. This can increase tensions especially when faced with a legal mechanism which is heavily reliant upon fault. The so called "blame game" can have a huge impact on the couples future relationship.
Change is a natural part of life but when it happens within the family unit it can be difficult to deal with. Not only can it be difficult for the couple themselves but it can have an effect on children and also the wider family. Many children may not want their parents to separate, they may feel confused and uncertain about what the future holds or sometimes they may have mixed feelings if they know that their parents were not happy in the relationship.
The idea of a "good divorce" is to try and reduce conflict between the parties and the impact that this has on children and the wider family. The ultimate goal is for parties to come out the other side of the relationship breakdown amicably, with respect for each other, putting their children's needs first and limiting the overall impact of the breakdown on their children and the wider family.
What is the impact of divorce conflict on children?
Studies show that conflict can have long term effects on children often having a detrimental impact on their wellbeing. A survey carried out by Resolution shows that 1 in 10 young people (aged between 14 – 22 years) said that they found themselves getting into trouble at school, college or university. 14% of those surveyed said they started drinking alcohol or started drinking more alcohol than previously. These are worrying statistics and cannot be ignored.
Where are we now?
There are over 100,000 divorces in England and Wales each year with around 42% of marriages ending in divorce. Although there has been a decline in divorce rates in recent years there are still huge numbers of people separating. We need to find a way of reducing the impact of divorce on children.
It appears to us that the introduction of a "no fault" divorce system could help in reducing conflict between separating couples. We have covered the concept of "no fault" divorce in detail in our previous update.
There have been numerous calls over the years to reform our divorce law to enable couples to obtain a divorce without having to apportion blame or provide evidence. This was brought into the limelight by the recent Supreme Court decision in Owens v Owens. As a result of this decision the government have opened a 12 week consultation. The proposals are designed to help families look to the future rather than take part in the "blame game".
What can we do?
We, together with Resolution, need to support separating couples and promote the benefits of a "good divorce" not only for the couple but also for their children and the wider family. When embroiled in divorce or financial remedy proceedings couples can quickly lose sight of the importance of maintaining an amicable relationship with each other. This can make things difficult in the future especially when working together as parents.
It is hoped that the campaign will raise awareness generally and everyone can play a part in promoting the benefits of reducing conflict on separation putting the best interests of all parties involved at the forefront.
To find out more or discuss your individual requirements in further detail, our specialist Family Law Solicitors can help. Our advice is bespoke, confidential and totally designed around you, helping you come to the best conclusion for both you and your family.
*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.