Separation Poll Shows Views of Children
Separation and divorce is always a difficult process to undergo for the adults whose relationship is coming to an end. It can also be a very difficult time for the children of the separating couple but there can be a risk that their views can be overlooked when decisions about the separation are made, even decisions regarding the care and welfare of the children.
A poll of young people aged 14-22 with experience of parental separation, which was carried out by ComRes on behalf of family law organisation Resolution, has revealed fresh insights from children about the levels of involvement and amount of information they would like during their parents’ divorce.
An overwhelming majority (82%) of the young people surveyed said that, despite their feelings at the time, they felt it was ultimately better that their parents divorced rather than stay together unhappily.
Key findings from the research shows that children and young people want greater involvement in decision-making during the divorce process:
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.
Half of young people (50%) indicate that they did not have any say as to which parent they would live with or where they would live (49%) following their parents’ separation or divorce. Importantly, 88% say it is important to make sure children do not feel like they have to choose between their parents.
There is therefore great importance to be attached to the balance to be struck between ensuring the views of children are properly taken account of in line with their age and maturity and the need to ensure they are not placed in the difficult position of choosing between parents.
The law already recognises that weight must be given to the views of children in line with their age and understanding. However, the research should serve as a reminder to lawyers and separating couples to ensure that efforts are made to take account of the views of the children, whilst also protecting them from being placed in the middle of disputes that should not involve them.
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