This has been a very interesting week as I was invited to speak on the panel of the Resolution Manifesto for Family Law launch on Monday 23 February.
After listening to Bob Greig from Only Dads http://www.onlydads.org I spoke more from the heart than I intended having come through the divorce process myself only recently. But in essence I wanted to say
• I work with lots of Mums and children over a 12 week period who are struggling to find the emotional support they need while they are unpicking the enormous complicated knots of the financial, legal and emotional impact of what deciding to divorce brings.
• And the reason why I know so well how stressful the whole thing is – is because I have recently gone through this highly stressful experience myself so I know 1st hand how challenging and frightening it is.
• So I really welcome Resolution’s Manifesto which firmly puts the children at the centre of this process first, helping separating / separated parents to work together in the child’s best interests
• So may parents are like rabbits caught in the headlights where their own stress, panic and denial means that they forget the massive impact their decisions are going to have on their children – unintentionally of course.
• Sometimes they openly blame the other parent for whats happened to the family.
• Sometimes they confide too much in their children when really they need to get some emotional support instead of unloading on their 10 year old.
• Sometimes routines go, discipline goes.
• Sometimes they drink too much, eat too much, shop too much in order to mask their pain.
• And children are caught in the middle of this really damaging time – often blaming themselves for their parents break down.
• So I welcome the Introduction of a Parenting Charter to help parents understand their responsibilities when they separate and the introduction of a NO BLAME divorce as I think this will help put the best interests of the children at the centre of the process and focus parents on what’s important so children are not unduly damaged by their parents divorce and in therapy when they are 40 !
I believe parents CAN divorce with dignity and without damaging everyone’s self esteem and self confidence because as we all know there are studies that show teenagers are struggling and looking to drugs, drink and casual sex to fill the void and distress they feel when their parents divorce.
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS – so I welcome Resolution’s whole and holistic approach to supporting families throught he transition and change.
But I spoke about rather emotionally about my own journey through divorce.
I wholeheartedly believe that the launch marks the start of an important conversation about the changes that next Government needs to make, in order to bring our outdated divorce laws into line with modern life.
Resolution, who represents family justice professionals committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes, have published the Manifesto because the current laws around divorce and separation are often barriers to finding constructive outcomes in separation.
With nearly a quarter of a million people getting divorced every year, this is an issue that affects a huge number of separating couples, as well as the people around them such as friends, family, colleagues and, most importantly, any children they may have together.
Resolution’s Manifesto identifies six key areas where changes are needed to our family justice system:
1. Protect vulnerable people going through separation
2. Introduce measures to help separating people reach agreements out of court
3. Introduce a Parenting Charter to help parents understand their responsibilities when they separate
4. Allow people to divorce without blame
5. Help people understand how their divorce will affect their future finances
6. Provide at least basic legal rights for couples who live together if they separate
They and I want to see a family justice system that:
provides support through relationship breakdown
puts children first, helping separating / separated parents to work together in the child’s best interests
provides fair and lasting outcomes on relationship breakdown
protects all those at risk of harm and sufferers of domestic abuse
Click on the link attached a PDF copy of the Resolution Manifesto for Family Law. You can also download a copy here http://www.resolution.org.uk/site_content_files/files/resolution_manifesto_for_family_law.pdf