Posted in Family Law, Divorce Drawbacks
by Karen O'Donovan
on Thursday 30 June 2016

Divorce Drawbacks

Summary of article: “Survey shows impact of divorce on mothers”, written by Karen O’Donovan, printed in the Evening Echo on Wednesday, June 8th, 2016.

Although Ireland has a relatively low divorce rate in comparison with other European countries, the number of parents becoming divorced is continuously rising. The obvious benefit of divorce for parents is the feeling of relief; however children can be crucially impacted when it comes to this topic. Following separation of parents, a lot of the focus can be on the distribution of assets among the parents involved and sometimes the fear and tension felt by children can be neglected or not adequately addressed.

As a result of such issues, a survey was undertaken in the Munster area. Family law solicitors, barristers, psychologists and other relevant professionals who work in the field of separation and divorce were asked to fill out a 10 question survey with two or three possible answers. 100 fully completed surveys were used for the statistical analysis.

Some of the main findings included that, following a divorce; women are more likely to have their career diminished and be the primary carer for the children. When considering divorce, fathers are less concerned with career prospects. Regarding extra expenses incurred as a result of divorce, 60% of the survey participants said they should be paid by the higher earner, while 40% believe the State should incur these costs.

The risk of poverty and deprivation for a mother is also very significant. According to the 2011 Census, a family of one adult and kids under 18 years of age have a 31.7% risk of poverty which is almost three times that of households with two adults and kids under 18 years of age (11.1%). The findings also show that there is not enough public awareness regarding the knowledge of services provided by the State to those involved in the divorce procedure.

Divorce undoubtedly has a significant impact on kids. Not only is their household structure changed following a separation but children also have to adjust to splitting time between their parents. It has been found that children of divorced parents may not reach their full potential regarding their education. 60% of those who undertook the survey felt that these children are more likely to exhibit poor concentration or learning difficulties. Certain adolescents could also experience antisocial behaviour. It is because of consequences like these that there should be a service provided for those affected. Schools can be a safe place for students and because it is not the responsibility of teachers to care for their welfare, relevant personnel could operate in schools to help these affected students. Regardless, it is imperative that parents and schools liaise with one another for the benefit of the youngsters involved.

Mental health is a topic constantly becoming more talked about in our society. Although many people experience mental health issues, children or teenagers who have experienced their parent’s separation can be more susceptible to becoming mentally unwell at some stage in their lives.

In conclusion, questions remain as to who should be responsible for adolescents following the process of having gone through their parents’ divorce. There is undoubtedly a lack of practical resources and funds available in this area. Adolescents, who are our future, need adequate care and attention at this crucial time of their lives in order to develop in the best possible way.   

Christina Broderick, June 30th 2016