The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill
June 8, 2020

A statement from Penny Mansfield CBE, co-director of OnePlusOne:

“The aims of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill in the House of Commons today (Monday 8th June 2020) for its second reading, are laudable but need to go further.  

Removing fault and creating conditions for couples to be able to divorce more amicably are positive steps. However, as it currently stands, the bill is silent on the provision of relationship support, which should be recognised as essential both in the early stages of relationship difficulties as well as at the point of divorce.

When we see the impact relationship distress and divorce has on both adults and children – as evidence gathered over the last 30 years shows – it is clear that more needs to be done to support parents at an early stage, when things first start to go wrong.  

We are calling on the government to commit to funding those services which support couples when they first need help. For example, the transition to parenthood is a key moment in any relationship when it is likely to experience new challenges.

By providing access to strong support networks, couples have the best chance of working through issues they may face along the way.

Where divorce is decided to be the best option, it’s important to understand the impact this can have on both parents and their children.

The emotional readiness of either partner when their relationship breaks down is critical to their ability to make decisions. Understandably, the partner who initiates the separation is likely to be more emotionally prepared for what lies ahead than the partner who didn’t see the break up coming.  In such circumstances, their unreadiness can last for up to two years. This can make decisions surrounding parenting particularly difficult.

Parenting is never easy. Parenting apart can bring even more emotional and practical difficulties.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill must ensure that adequate aftercare is available to support parents. Even after the breakdown of a marriage, parents still have the important role of parenting, and doing this apart presents new challenges for them to navigate. Providing them with the support they need is essential for both the wellbeing of parent and child.

In some parts of North America, parenting after parting courses are mandatory and having a positive effect. When we know how damaging parental conflict can be for the life chances of children, the UK government should adopt a similar level of commitment.”