Letting Children Down: Shocking statistics and how to avoid this
Most Children under 16 will have to come to terms with their parent’s relationship breaking down
The most recent Divorce statistics covering the year 2012 show that;
- In England and Wales there were a total of 118,140 divorces
- It is expected that 42% of marriages will end in divorce.
- 48% of couples divorcing had at least one child aged under 16 living with the family
Other statistics produced by the Office of National Statistics show that couples who live together are twice as likely to break up as married partners.
If you put these figures together, most children will have their lives significantly disrupted by choices and actions of one or both parent.
Many Separations and Divorces are acrimonious
A study produced by One Parent Families|Gingerbread in 2008 showed that 29 per cent of resident parents said that their child never sees the other parent, and 20 per cent of all resident parents said that their child had not seen the other parent since separation.
The Legal Process can make matters worse
In 2013 a report by the Legal Ombudsman for England and Wales the Watchdog whose role it is to resolve disputes between lawyers and their clients showed complaints by clients in divorce and family law were higher than in any other category.
A problem was lawyers not being clear enough about likely cost, but also lawyers not always doing enough to give their clients realistic expectations or to discourage them from the sometimes overwhelming wish to punish their former partner through the courts.
The statistics clearly show that the big losers can be children.
I have seen it with my own eyes
I have been qualified and practiced as a specialist Family Law Solicitor since1992 and as a Family Mediator since 1996. I always find this and similar data profoundly depressing. Over the years I have acted for both husbands/fathers and wives/mothers as a Solicitor and have assisted both as a neutral mediator.
Over and over again, I see people who want to do the right thing for their children having their good intentions defeated or side-tracked by emotions, poor communication and a lack of trust. Too easily they can lose sight of the bigger picture.
Sadly, the Court process encourages parents to say upsetting things about the other and to continue to distrust and blame each other for everything that has gone wrong.
There is another way…
In 2013 I decided to set up my own specialist practice based in Honiton (but with meeting facilities in Exeter and Taunton) which is both a Solicitors Practice and a Mediation Service.
The idea is to offer clients a genuine choice about how to resolve the issues arising from Separation or Divorce, but in all cases to assist them to achieve outcomes that are fair and put the needs of their children first.
Family Mediation in East Devon
We are the only Mediation Service that is based in East Devon which has a contract with the Legal Aid Agency.
I have been a family mediator for nearly 20 years and in that time have served on the Governing Board of the Family Mediators Association. I have seen how during mediation parents have been able to refocus their relationship to become cooperative again. They have learned to re-trust each other and to communicate effectively again.
At the start it can be extremely difficult to see how potential gains are achievable, but it does work, and sadly, too few couples make use of it.
A specialist Family Lawyer can make a difference too
I have also served on the National Family Law Committee of the Law Society and I have been elected by Devon Family Law Solicitors to be Chair of the Devon area of the Family Law Solicitors organisation Resolution (most specialist family solicitors are members). I was one of the first handful of Lawyers in Devon to train in Collaborative Family Law.
An experienced and progressive Family Lawyer can make a real difference too. This is through helping their client making good, realistic and child focussed decisions. Again clients need to be prepared to make difficult choices and to put their own feelings to one side, but with good advice the benefits for their children can be immense.