How separation and divorce impacts on children in Ireland is one of the biggest issues they face growing up. Separation and divorce not only affect the family unit, they also affect the relationship children have with one or both parents.
To start, looking at marriage statistics alone, did you know that:
Whether a couple is married or not the breakdown of a relationship between two people, also creates the potential for the breakdown of a parent and child relationship. And the figures also show that more and more children are living with just one parent.
According to the 2016 Census, 1 in 5 people live in a one parent family, and 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family. those statistics breakdown as follows: 36% single, 30% post separation/divorce and 29% widowed.
Just two years later in 2018, and the Eurostat figures show that these figures jump to 1 in 4 children living in a one parent family. It’s also worth noting that 8% of lone parent families have a disabled child, in comparison with 5% of co-parented families.
The figures for children in lone parent families are steadily increasing year on year, and at an alarming rate, and are reflective of a growing rate in relationship breakdown in our country. Ireland now has the joint highest level of one-parent families in Europe.
We shouldn’t be complacent about these statistics in any way, or just see them as a standard societal trend, because what lies behind the statistics are vulnerable children.
In short, research (Bauserman 2002) shows that children from divorced families are less well adjusted. However, research also shows that children in shared parenting situations are better adjusted, physically and psychologically. They are also better adjusted socially with peers and at school, than the children in sole custody of one parent, with limited access to their other parent. In other words shared parenting is the key.
So how the issues of custody and access are handled in the process of a relationship breakdown has a huge effect on the outcome for children.
In terms of taking action on this issue, the priority is to address the supports and education needed to limit the potential damage for the children and families who are going through the process of a relationship breakdown.
The earlier in the process that families can obtain good advice and support abut parenting issues, the better the outcomes.
Also, it is vital to ensure that continuing supports, both emotional and financial, are provided to one parent families, parent and child alike.
For the longer term, we also need to address the causes of relationship breakdown in Ireland. We need to ask:
If you need advice or support on any of the issues raised above, please call Alan Finnerty on 01 637 6200. Or you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Orpen Franks Solicitors LLP
28 & 30 Burlington Road, Dublin 4, Ireland
Telephone: +353 1 637 6200
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