This disturbing statistic was the result of a recent poll of 4000 parents and children conducted by a national newspaper to provide us with a glimpse into the workings of the family court system, and to flag up potential areas of improvement. One of the most prominent issues raised was the overwhelming amount of automatic decisions to place custody of children with the mother, despite the effect this can have on the children and their relationship with their father.
Effects On Children
As mentioned above, one in three children whose parents divorce lose contact with their fathers, but the issues go deeper than that. When asked how they coped with the divorce, almost a tenth of children involved in an acrimonious divorce were left feeling isolated, used and even suicidal, turning to drink, drugs and crime later on in life.
Children involved in an unhappy divorce are often left feeling manipulated, used and even unloved, which can lead to severe emotional and behavioural problems. Being pitted against their fathers by their mothers or vice versa, the impact on their future relationships and attitudes towards marriage and divorce are drastically affected. We are now at risk of a generation of young people who are bearing the scars of this divorce 'boom' and the resulting lack of father figures in their lives.
Effects On Parents
Perhaps more alarming than the effect divorce has on children involved is the behaviour of the parents in such situations. We all like to think that we would never do anything hurtful or even mildly wrong when our families are involved, but the results surprised us. When questioned about their divorce, a large percentage confessed to using their children as bargaining tools to get what they want, or that they strung out the divorce proceedings for personal gain despite the children's wellbeing. Unfortunately, the nature of the family court system encourages parents to engage in a 'punch up' type affair between two angry partners, using the children as tools to get what they want or leaving them to become collateral damage. Even more worrying, a quarter of children involved in such a divorce said they had been asked to lie to one parent by the other about multiple things, while another 15 percent admitted they had been asked to 'spy' on a parent by the other.
The system as it stands polarises the parents and puts the children right in the middle - and it's a system that is viewed by many as failing. With the rates of acrimonious divorce rising in the UK and the court system still tending to default towards awarding custody (at least temporarily) to mothers, its unsurprising that fathers are losing contact with their children, and the children themselves are facing the fallout. Divorce can affect every family unit differently, but the way the case is handled and how you conduct yourself is the key to resolving your problems with minimal collateral damage.