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Family Dispute Resolution Week starts a media debate

“It's time to get family justice back on the agenda,” says Jo Edwards

The third annual Family Dispute Resolution Week has been judged a great success by Resolution. The organisation released the results of a survey asking children and young people about how they felt their parents' divorce had affected them. These statistics made headlines across the country which Jo Edwards, Resolution's chair, believes has started a debate across the printed press and across the airwaves.

She said:

"Inevitably, as often happens when you start a debate, some groups sought to use the story to their own advantage, peddling a pro-marriage message and suggesting that these findings prove beyond doubt that parents need to stay together for the sake of the kids.

"This misses the point. One of the risks associated with promoting a non-confrontational approach to divorce is that, sadly, the initial words get lost and people see you as promoting divorce. Nothing could be further from the truth. Resolution is not, never has been, and certainly for as long as I am Chair, never will be a 'pro' or 'anti' marriage organisation. As I put it to one radio station: 'While Resolution supports getting marriage right and advocates marriage counselling where there are marital difficulties, we encourage getting divorce right where the marriage is unsalvageable.'

"Whether we like it or not, sometimes parents break up, and regrettably sometimes this can negatively impact on their children. Isn't it in all of our interests to try and do something about that? Simply saying 'parents should stay together' is too simplistic and a naïve answer. Yes, for some people that will be possible, but for many, staying together guarantees one thing – that their children will be raised in an environment ridden with conflict and devoid of love – and that can be far more damaging than maturely calling time on the relationship and managing the break-up in an appropriate way.

"I am glad that, from TV, to radio, to social media and even in the House of Lords, people are talking about the wider implications of divorce as a result of DR Week. Resolution members see the ripple effect of trauma that can emanate from a high-conflict separation. It's something that too many children go through in this country and it's time it came to an end. Parents have it in their power to choose a better way for their family. My hope is that, going forward, we can have a nuanced public conversation about divorce, free from ideological taint. The cuts to family legal aid and resulting drop in mediation numbers have set this country back – it's time to get family justice back on the agenda. Our children's futures are too important to risk."