The Long-Term Impact of Divorce Upon Child Development Marcia Mediation

A family law mediator requires a diverse set of skills to effectively facilitate the resolution of disputes between parties involved in family law matters. Some of the key skills of a family law mediator include: 1. Communication Skills: Mediators ne...

At Marcia Mediation, we believe that in any separation involving children, the opinions and welfare of those children should be a primary consideration, and not an afterthought. By adopting a child-inclusive mediation approach, we aim to minimise harm and distress.

Dependants can feature in any separation, including mixed-sex divorce, mixed-sex civil partnership dissolution, and same-sex divorce or dissolution where there are dependants from previous relationships, surrogacy, adoption and other such processes.

Whatever your circumstances, child-inclusive mediation can help to ensure that the separation process – both emotional and legal – does not harm your child’s long-term development.

How parental conflict harms children

An acrimonious divorce can have lasting consequences for child development, especially if the child is exposed directly to the conflict between their parents.

In 2022, Professor Gordon Harold of the University of Cambridge prepared a summary of the evidence surrounding Inter-Parental Conflict and Family Separation for the Family Solutions Group.

He noted that:

  • Family separation is inevitably stressful for dependants in the short term
  • Lasting impact comes from the conflict witnessed before, during and after separation
  • Children (including teenagers) take around two years to adjust to separation
  • In cases with high conflict, this adaptation process can take much longer
  • Reducing parental conflict is linked with better long-term outcomes

These improved outcomes not only deliver better mental and emotional health for the parents and dependants, but can prevent costs and other problems for society as a whole.

What negative outcomes can be avoided?

The list of potential negative outcomes in high-conflict cases goes beyond short-term stress and sadness.

Professor Harold lists a variety of psychological and behavioural issues that may arise in dependants following a high-conflict parental separation:

  • Abnormal brain development
  • Academic failure
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Behavioural problems
  • Criminal behaviour
  • Homelessness
  • Parenting problems
  • Peer problems
  • Relationship problems
  • Substance abuse

This ‘arrested development’ can pass on to the next generation, as the dependant from the original divorce, once they reach adulthood, may find it more difficult to interact with their own children.

Benefits of low-conflict divorce

Some of the direct benefits of low-conflict divorce include financial savings in policing and the criminal justice system, the education system and the health and social care system.

Better mental health and development – both psychological and emotional – means dependants can contribute to society in the usual way once they reach adulthood.

And by allowing those dependants to have a more positive experience of their own parents, even after the breakdown of the household and family structure, they are better placed to raise children of their own if and when the time comes.

Ask us about child-inclusive mediation

If you have children of any age, or any other vulnerable household members, speak to Marcia Mediation today about child-inclusive mediation and ensure that all affected parties are represented and protected during the mediation process. For more information on the details of how child inclusive mediation works, see some of the most common questions a mediator is likely to ask your child.

Divorce and dissolution are, by definition, about families. Losing that household structure can be distressing – and we can’t promise to eliminate the sadness from the process completely.

But by keeping all affected parties firmly in mind throughout the separation negotiations, mediation can reduce conflict and ensure children’s voices are heard, so there is no more than the absolute minimum of necessary stress and upset.

Could mediation help you?
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If you have any questions, call us on 07791 560 161 or fill out this form

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