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Children want more say when their parents get divorced

Children want more say in what happens to them when their parents get divorced, according to research carried out for the family law group, Resolution.

The survey also revealed that 82% said they would prefer that their parents separated if they were unhappy rather than stay together. Resolution quotes one young person as saying: “Don’t stay together for a child’s sake, better to divorce than stay together for another few years and divorce on bad terms.”

The main findings of the research suggests children feel left out of the decision making process during divorce proceedings and want more input about who they live with and what happens to them after their parents separate.

The survey of young people aged 14-22 with experience of parental separation was carried out by ComRes on behalf of Resolution.

These are some of the key points:

  • 62% of children and young people polled disagreed with the statement that their parents made sure they were part of the decision making process about their separation or divorce
  • 50% of young people indicate that they did not have any say as to which parent they would live with or where they would live following their parents’ separation
  • 88% say it is important to make sure children do not feel like they have to choose between their parents
  • 47% say that they didn’t understand what was happening during their parents’ separation
  • 19% agree that they sometimes felt like the divorce was their fault
  • When asked what they’d most like to have changed about their parents’ divorce, 31% of young people said they would have liked their parents not to be horrible about each other to them, and 30% said they would have liked their parents to understand what it felt like to be in the middle of the process
  • 50% of young people agreed that their parents put their needs first during their separation or divorce.

Resolution chairperson Jo Edwards said: “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.

“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.”

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law including mediation and collaborative practice.