A new survey completed on behalf of family law organisation, Resolution, reveals that 8 out of 10 children and young people would prefer unhappy parents to divorce rather than stay together for their sake.

The poll, completed late last year, asked 514 youngsters aged 14-22 about their experiences of parental separation, from the amount they were involved to the amount of information they were given during the split.

Results from ComRes revealed that 62% of children felt like they weren’t part of the decision making process, not knowing what was happening, and half felt they didn’t have any say in who they would live with or where, signalling a greater need to involve young people in the separation process.

The findings also show that 88% of young people involved felt it was important to make sure children didn’t feel like they had to choose between parents with 31% stating they would have liked their parents not to say horrible things about each other to them, and a further 19% agreeing they often felt it was their fault.

Despite the negativity surrounding parental separation, Resolution’s research suggests that many handle the divorce well, with 50% agreeing their parents put their needs first. Youngsters also agreed that it works out better in the long run, with one of those surveyed stating children “will often realise, later on, that it was for the best.”

One child stated: “Don’t stay together for a child’s sake, better to divorce than stay together for another few years than divorce on bad terms.”

Chair of Resolution, Jo Edwards, said: “This new information shows that, despite the common myth that it’s better to stay together “for the sake of the kids”, most children would sooner have their parents divorce rather than remain in an unhappy relationship.

“Being exposed to conflict and uncertainty about the future are what’s most damaging for children, not the fact of divorce itself. This means it is essential that parents act responsibly, to shelter their children from adult disagreements and take appropriate action to communicate with their children throughout this process, and make them feel involved in key decisions, such as where they will live after the divorce.

She continues: “We should be supporting parents to choose an out of court divorce method, such as mediation or collaborative practice. This will help parents to maintain control over the divorce and ensure their children’s needs are, and remain, the central focus.”

Beecham Peacock can advise on all areas of Family Law. For more information contact 0191 2323048 or email enquire@beechampeacock.co.uk.

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