Divorced parents say financial matters are the biggest challenge they face in managing their children with their ex-spouse, a new YouGov survey has revealed.
A quarter of divorced parents said financial matters were their biggest challenge (as a co-parenting challenge) followed by contact or visitation issues, parenting styles and holidays (15%, 12%, and 10% respectively). Dealing with school and meeting an ex-spouses’ new partner also featured on the list (7%, and 8% respectively).
The YouGov poll of 1,003 adult divorcees in the UK commissioned by law firm Irwin Mitchell found that many parents are managing and resolving their disputes regarding children by text messages (14%).
Almost a third of the divorced parents surveyed said having children made them fight harder for their rights, with lawyers saying couples should consider taking back control of their separation with mediation often being a quicker, cheaper and more amicable solution than going to court.
The survey also reveals that money (51%) and the impact on children (47%) are among divorcees biggest fears during the divorce process. A third of respondents said legal fees and where they would live post-divorce were also major concerns.
Having children also impacts parents’ attitudes towards the divorce process in differing ways with 28% of respondents saying it made them fight harder and 21% saying it made the process more amicable; a further 10% said having children made them want to go through mediation and discussion.
Ros Bever, Head of the specialist family and divorce team at law firm Irwin Mitchell, said:
“We know that children have a major impact on the way parents approach divorce. Some will fight harder some will want a more amicable split. What this latest research shows is that the impact on children and the financial aspects of supporting their children post-divorce is front and centre of parents’ minds.
Many divorcees are really worried about money post-divorce, especially if one partner was a higher earner in the marriage. Property and living arrangements are also very high on the list of biggest fears.”
Despite these fears during the divorce process, more divorcees don’t believe co-parenting classes should be mandatory (43%), although a large proportion (35%) of those surveyed still believe they should.
Two years ago the Government introduced no-fault divorce which allows couples to separate without apportioning blame. The hope was that this would lead to friendlier separations which would alleviate some pressure on the courts.
However the survey found that just 14% of respondents had resolved their divorce through mediation which is designed to be less adversarial than heading to court. This is despite the Government introducing £500 mediation vouchers in 2021 for people meeting a certain criteria to try and encourage people to settle out of court post-Covid.
Former BBC News presenter Joanna Gosling, now a specialist mediator at Irwin Mitchell after switching careers last year added:
“Divorce is one of the most stressful life events people can go through, especially if there are children involved and the recent cost of living crisis has simply added to those fears. It’s why its really important that those in the professions raise awareness of the alternative options for resolving a divorce such as mediation, arbitration, no-fault divorce and the collaborative process.
Our research shows that very few divorcees are going through mediation but sitting down and discussing matters in a controlled and professional manner can lead to a more cost effective and quicker resolution to a separation and set the foundations for a better future co-parenting.”
*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1003 divorced adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 20th – 25th November 2023. The survey was carried out online.
With thanks to Irwin Mitchell for supplying their survey results.