What is the process?
How can I protect my children?
What are the implications for future outcomes?
The introduction of new partners?
From April 2014 the law changed so it is no longer possible for a parent to make an application to the court for an order relating to children without first having attended an intake meeting (MIAM) with a trained mediator, other than in exceptional circumstances. The courts will no longer make contact or residence orders and instead, there will be Child Arrangement Programmes (CAP). We can work together with parents, privately to make their own arrangements and avoid the need for court.
Relationship breakdown is a difficult time for all family members and the most vulnerable members of the family are the children. At Green Light Mediation we work with parents to create a parenting plan so that they are on the same page with issues that are important within their family which could include contact arrangements, education, diet, routines, birthdays and Christmas, supporting out of school activities etc. This can be drawn up into a document at the end for both to refer to.
The evidence is that divorce does not necessarily damage children, it is parental conflict.
Do all children of separated couples have problems?
It is not inevitable that all children will suffer long term harm from the breakup of a relationship.
In fact, if there are good relations between the parents, most are able to adjust to the new family situation after an initial period of unhappiness and instability.
The quality of parenting, a lack of financial hardship and whether or not the parents go through multiple relationships following the separation are also thought to be key to the wellbeing of the child.
Having parents that get along better together when they live apart is better for a child than being part of a dysfunctional family unit with high levels of destructive conflict. However without such support many children do suffer negative consequences of a break up.
Who is affected the most by separation: boys or girls?
There is mixed opinion on whether boys or girls are affected most by the breakdown of a relationship. Although there is evidence showing that boys find separation more upsetting to begin with, there is also evidence that the effects on girls are more likely to last longer.Studies also seem to show that boys find it easier to adjust to step families than girls, particularly if the girl is in early adolescence.
Older boys and girls tend to find it more difficult to adjust to step families than younger children. It is has also been suggested however, that younger children may not be aware of their parents’ marital problems and so the separation itself may be a greater shock. This in turn can result in greater confusion and anxiety, and may lead to children blaming themselves for the separation.
The impact of new partners and families
There also appears to be an association between behaviour problems and the number of later relationships the parents have. These later relationships become transitional periods for the child, where they have to attune themselves to either living with a single parent, co-parenting or the introduction of their parent’s new partners or step families.
The evidence shows that having multiple transitions can impact on behaviour problems such as disobedience and hyperactivity.
Studies have shown that many children find the remarriage of a parent more stressful than the divorce.
Other research has shown that children may find it easier to deal with a parent’s new partner if the other biological parent is not establishing a new relationship at the same time Having a stable family situation in at least one home seems to be important.
Limiting the effect of separation on children
The evidence indicates that the effects of separation on children can be limited, and the child can emerge free of any long term harm. Although there is no comprehensive formula to follow to ensure a positive outcome for the child, a number of key factors seem to be associated with this:
Competent and warm parenting from both parents
Continuing good relations and co-operation between parents
Social support for the child such as extended family and friends
Other factors that may increase the risk of poor outcomes include:
Maternal mental health
A continued high level of conflict between parents
A lack of post-separation contact (where appropriate)A lack of open communication between parent and child about the separation
Recurring changes in family circumstances.
Excerpt from ONEPLUSONE
Thinking about children at Christmas:
What is child inclusive mediation?
WORRIED ABOUT THE IMPACT ON YOUR CHILDREN?
Child Psychotherapy Trust provides information on children’s emotional development, leaflets only www.childpsychotherapytrust.org.uk.
We may be able to offer workshops for couples seeking to protect their children from the effects of separation and divorce. Please email us to indicate an interest :
Royal Institute of Psychiatrists:
Contact your child's school: If your child is dealing with a major life change, it may be helpful to ensure the school is aware so that they can help support and also let you know of any concerns to help you support at home.
Research by the Ministry of Justice studying the views of children who have been through the court process have shown that commonly they are very angry and feel that their voices were not heard.
Child inclusive mediation is a specific model of mediation that includes a separate meeting with a child/children so that they can have their voice heard. It is useful for children over 10 years and can enable arrangements to be much more child focused and avoid children feeling conflicted and pulled in two directions.
If you would like to know more just contact us by phone or email and explain you are interested in Child Inclusive Mediation. We have 2 mediators qualified in this area within Green Light Mediation.