A prominent family lawyer from Shrewsbury is supporting a national campaign for a change in the law to reduce the fallout from divorce on children, after figures released today reveal the impact of conflict between separating parents.

In a new poll, 79% of the population agreed conflict from divorce or separation can affect negatively children’s mental health, a figure rising to 87% among those who experienced their parents’ divorce as children.

The data also shows that 77% believed conflict could affect children’s academic performance, and a further two-thirds felt social interactions and the ability to form healthy romantic relationships were also jeopardised.

Sandy Edwards from Aaron & Partners solicitors in Shrewsbury is raising the issue as part of Good Divorce Week – a national awareness initiative being led by Resolution, which campaigns for a fairer family justice system and commissioned the new YouGov poll.

Good Divorce Week aims to provide practical help, highlighting ways for separating parents to put their children’s needs first, as well as calling on government to urgently remove blame from the divorce process.

As 200,000 people divorce each year in England and Wales, an overwhelming 79% of the public support measures that would remove blame from the divorce process, with 71% believing change is urgently needed to reduce the negative impact on children.

Sandy has written to Owen Paterson, the Member of Parliament for North Shropshire, urging him to engage with Resolution and listen to calls for the modernisation of family law by removing the need for blame in a divorce.

And she explained that while most parents she works with want to act in a child’s best interests, the current fault-based divorce system can make this a challenge.
Sandy added: “Each day I work with separating parents to help them resolve their own issues in a way that provides a fair outcome to everyone in the family, especially any children.

In some cases, however, even with the most amicable break up, the requirement to apportion blame for the breakdown of the marriage can create unnecessary conflict that can threaten the entire process.

Currently, unless a couple can prove they’ve been separated for two years with consent or five years without, the only way to get a divorce is to attribute blame.

Around 60% of divorces in England and Wales are based on fault, compared with only 6-7% in Scotland where the law is different.

Many couples are surprised that they cannot just cite irreconcilable differences or say they’ve grown apart.

With 90% of professionals saying the current law makes it harder to reduce conflict between separating couples, Resolution has been campaigning for a number of years to remove blame from the divorce process.

Evidence shows the impact of conflict stemming from the requirement to blame can have a detrimental effect on the couple and any children they may have.”

Resolution has made resources available, to the public and local practitioners, to help them campaign to change the system and raise awareness of the long-term impact this conflict can have on children. These are available at www.resolution.org.uk/GoodDivorceWeek

Sandy Edwards is an experienced family practitioner who is also a trained collaborative lawyer, a process whereby the parties sign an agreement not to go to Court and attempt to resolve matters around the table with the assistance and support of their lawyers and other professionals.

For an initial consultation please contact Sandy on sandy.edwards@aaronandpartners.com or on 01743 453 689.

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