Family Lives responds to Department for Education: Major changes in family courts

“Family Lives welcomes that The Children and Families Act has received Royal Assent.  When couples separate, mediation and short-term focused emotional support and advice from organisations such as Family Lives can help couples – and children- to understand what is happening and make plans for the future.  One to one counselling can assist those who are struggling with conflicting emotions related to parental separation. It’s vital that parents, children and the wider family are equipped to find their own ways through the challenges of family separation.  Many people find it difficult to admit to relationship support needs; this can be further magnified by the fact that divorce and separation is a particularly stressful experience, with conflicts and tensions often continuing post separation, causing separated parents to feel vulnerable. There is a particular issue with fathers being reluctant to seek support after a separation. Through our partnership with paternal support organisations and outreach work, Family Lives has developed an expertise in working with fathers and overcoming any reluctance to seek support.

Over a 12 month period, Family Lives’ free 24/7 Helpline found that 6357 calls were from parents and carers throughout the UK where the primary issue cited was divorce and separation.  A further 1854 concerned family law.  Regarding divorce and separation, 2931 parents talked to Family Lives specifically about child access and 3523 called to seek advice specifically around being unable to reach an agreement with their ex-partner around issues such as maintenance and access.  Overall, 51% of helpline calls were from separated parents over the year. Where divorce and separation was the primary reason for calling Family Lives helpline, parents talked particularly about lack of contact, unreliable and unwilling contact, the impact of divorce on the behaviour of their child, conflict and living arrangements. 

We will continue to support separating couples to ensure vulnerable children are better protected by a more efficient family justice system.”

Jeremy Todd, Family Lives