Children and teenagers whose parents have divorced say their exam grades suffer and they are driven to drink or drugs or feel pressure to get involved in the break-up, according to new research released in the UK.
Around one in five young people surveyed in a ComRes poll commissioned by family lawyers’ association Resolution said their exam results suffered as a result of a family breakdown.
Two-thirds said their GCSE results were affected and 44% struggled with their A-Levels as a result, while 15% were disrupted by having to move schools.
Many even said their health was affected, as 28% said they changed their eating habits in the wake of a split. around 14% said they had started to drink alcohol, while 13% admitted experimenting with drugs
The figures, released to mark the start of Family Dispute Resolution Week, also show more than one in 4 said their parents tried to involve them in the dispute.
Jo Edwards, chairman of Resolution, which represents 6,500 family law professionals in England and Wales said 100,000 children a year saw their parents divorce.
She said: “These new findings show the wide-ranging impact of divorce and separation on young people.
“It underlines just how important it is that parents going through a split manage their separation in a way that minimises the stress and impact on the entire family, especially children, otherwise their exam results could suffer. Divorce and separation is always traumatic, but there is a better way to deal with it.”
Molly Baker, 16, from Sheffield, was seven when her parents decided to split up, although their divorce was not finalised until three years ago.
She said: “The divorce affected my primary education because I would get taken out of lessons to talk to teachers about how I was feeling or about what was happening now in the proceedings, which meant I missed out on time in class.
“As I got older it became easier to focus just on school work and receive the correct support and understanding in secondary education.”
ComRes surveyed 4,031 UK adults and 500 young people with experience of parental separation or divorce aged between 14 and 22.
Resolution pointed to a variety of ways to solve divorce disputes, including mediation or arbitration, which, aided by solicitors, could be “quick and cost effective”.