Children - the "collateral damage" in divorce


Are your children collateral damage in your divorce?

According to Statistics South Africa, the latest data on divorce and marriages in South Africa showed an increase in divorce orders between 2013 and 2017. In addition these statistics revealed that four in ten of those divorces processed in 2017 came from marriages that did not reach their tenth wedding anniversary and that the majority of men were around 44 years old while women were 40 years of age.

A divorce can be contested or opposed and take two to three years to finalise, or uncontested (a much simpler, quicker and cost effective method). A contested divorce has the reputation of being much more acrimonious and therefore more emotional damage is done to all concerned, especially the children, who become collateral damage in the war of their parents.

A mediated parenting plan can iron out many of the sticking points and is far more preferable to having the courts decide when, how and for how long you will see your children.

When you see a mediator for a parenting plan, you and your partner are able to put on the table what your wishes and needs are related to your children. In this way it is possible to iron out differences and put in place a plan that includes both of your decisions and needs. A plan should be workable for the children from a practical point of view, take into account their needs first and consider what is best for them before looking at your own needs. Using children like a pawn in a game is unacceptable and this often becomes reality in a contested divorce.

Although you might be doing your best to protect your child from the negative influences of the divorce, children are astute and will often pick up on many of these emotions and experiences. They may want to talk about the situation you are all now facing. Many children often feel caught in the middle and this is something you should guard against. You need to take care that your child does not get pressured into taking sides as it can really cause emotional damage to children and to the relationship with their parents. This can be very upsetting for children and can damage their relationship with both parents, both of which can very often be obvious to professionals working with you. Parental alienation is a very real phenomenon that most often occurs during a separation or divorce.


More information on parental alienation will be made available on my website soon - also see info at karen spurrier mediation on facebook. Call for an appointment to discuss options.

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