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Global Guide to Divorce
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Do Not Stay Together for Children’s Sake

Study Says Children do not Want Parents to Stay Together for Their Sake

Staying together “for the sake of the kids” has long been one of the key factors that delays couples from separating or stops them altogether. Living together as amicably as they can when they are no longer in love seems, to many couples, preferable to the impact that separating will have on their children. New research, however, suggests that this view is misguided. Ultimately, not only is it not necessarily good for the parents to stay together, but in fact it is not even what the majority of kids really want.

Resolution, a major family legal organisation, surveyed 514 young people, aged 14-22 at the time of the survey, who had previously experienced the divorce of their parents. The considerable majority – 82% – agreed that ultimately it had been better for their parents to separate rather than to stay together for their sake.

However, many of them felt that the process and their role in it could have been-better handled in certain ways, particularly when it came to the degree of involvement they had in the decision-making process. More than 60% of young people surveyed said that they did not feel their parents had included them when it came to making the decision to separate. Roughly half of respondents said that they had not been consulted about which parent they would prefer to be primarily resident with or where they would like to live.

The survey did, however, also underline how difficult it can be for young people when their parents separate, and underlined the importance of not putting any more pressure on children during the divorce process. Nearly nine out of ten young people who took part in the survey agreed that parents should not make their children feel like the divorce process requires them to pick a side or to choose one parent over the other. Children are already in a difficult situation without such pressures being added to their concerns, as around half of those surveyed said the divorce of their parents left them feeling confused and almost a fifth (19%) reporting feelings of personal guilt about the breakup.

A number of other interesting statistics were uncovered by the survey. Around half of those surveyed felt that their parents had put their  needs first, which of course also means that roughly half felt their parents had not done this. When asked if there was anything they would have changed about the way the divorce was handled, 30% wished their parents could have better understood how they felt and 31% did not like the way their parents verbally criticised one another in front of them.

Speaking on the survey’s findings, Resolution chair Jo Edwards said: “Despite the common myth that it’s better to stay together for the sake of the kids, most children would rather their parents’ divorce than remain in an unhappy relationship.”

She continued: “Being exposed to conflict and uncertainty about the future are what’s most damaging for children, not the fact of divorce itself.”

Author Bio Fletcher Day are a full service commercial law firm with an experienced family law team who specialise in divorce and finances, civil partnerships and all matters involving children.