On Wednesday 29th May 2013 Barnardos held a conference emphasising the importance of supporting children in family breakdown situations. It explored the impact of family breakdown, separation and / or divorce on their lives and the importance of involving and supporting them when their family case is heard by the court or in other mechanisms e.g. mediation or child contact centres.
Children love growing up in a stable familiar family environment so change to their family circumstances can have a huge impact on their lives. It is a very individual experience for every child, but feelings of isolation, confusion and fear of the unknown are common. Children can feel trapped between their parents and afraid of being honest about one parent to another out of sense of loyalty or fear of further anger within the house. This emotional burden on the child can affect their wellbeing, their ability to cope with the transition and their educational and social development both in the short term and into their future. While in some cases the relationship breakdown might lead to a positive impact on the child in other cases the child, can be very distressed out of fear that they will not see their non-resident parent again. Interestingly, while the majority of children continue to be raised in a traditional nuclear family, one in six children are living in lone parent households. According to the Census 2011, the rate of marital breakdown (number of separated and divorced as a proportion of those ever married) is up from 8.7% to just under 10%. Specifically the number of divorced people rose significantly to 87,770 up from 35,059 in 2006 while the number of separated people levelled off at 116,194 up from 107,263 in 2006.