This week has been declared Family Dispute Resolution Awareness Week. Why and what is its relevance in the North East?
The overwhelming majority of people in the North East believe that putting children’s interests first or avoiding conflict are the most important factors if going through divorce, according to a new survey from Resolution, the national family law association.
Four out of five (80%) say that putting children’s interests first would be their most or second most important consideration in a divorce, and half (47%) would prioritise making the divorce as conflict-free as possible.
Despite this, over four-fifths of people (83%) believe that children end up being the main casualties of divorce, and 44% believe that conflict is inevitable in separation and divorce. Despite the increasing availability of non-court alternatives, nearly half (46%) think that most divorces involve a visit to court.
In stark contrast to some of the high-profile divorce cases in recent years, financial factors are not seen as particularly important, with just 1% saying that being financially better off than their partner would be the most important consideration should they divorce.
These findings highlight how people have good intentions to prioritise the well-being of children and to avoid conflict during separation, but this can often be derailed by a lack of knowledge of non-court based options and an exposure to the adversarial nature of courts. Something is going very wrong, and often the result is emotionally and financially drained parents, and deeply distressed children.
The survey was conducted to mark Family Dispute Resolution Week, which started yesterday and is being held to raise awareness of non-confrontational methods of resolving family breakdown, such as mediation, collaborative law and arbitration.
As part of the week, Resolution is launching a new advice guide, ’Separating Together: Your options for separation and divorce’, designed to help separating couples understand and explore non-court based methods of resolving issues arising on the breakdown of a relationship.
These methods can help prevent separation and divorce from being needlessly adversarial, and often can benefit the whole family through fairer settlements and by prioritising the interests of children.
The survey results come at an important time for family law in England and Wales. The most recent statistics show a rise in divorce rates; and the family courts are facing the strain.