Separation and divorce can be a challenging and upsetting time for all involved. But even though the relationship between the adults has ended, their role as parents has not stopped. It is important to make sure the children get the support they need.
Divorce is a process in which children have no choice but to participate. What children are told and, more significantly, the consideration given to their emotional as well as physical needs has a very important impact on their adjustment and future psychological development.
The previous culture of "staying together for the sake of the children" seems to have given a rise in the number of young adults seeing their parents separate. It is often believed that adult children will somehow manage divorce better. However, from our experience, both gender and age affect children's reactions to divorce.
Upon dealing with the break-up of their family, older children also face a bewildering challenge to their own identity, as their solid family unit disappears and leaves them having to reappraise themselves, rethink their future, and perhaps their past too. This can create additional stress to the already difficult time of working towards final exams at school or finding their feet at university. On top of all this, they may be brought in as a confidante, judge or sounding board by a parent.
Where there is a dispute about a child's future, a child arrangements order will resolve the parents' disagreement. But the law is clear that no court shall make such an order which will apply to a child once that child is sixteen unless the circumstances are "exceptional".
Most certainly, this age group may find help and support outside the family unit useful, such as counselling and therapy.
To support children during separation and help them with their worries, you should:
If you have any more questions or would like more information, you can contact our Family Law Team below.