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17 DEC 2013

Divorcing and separating couples’ biggest regret is impact on children

Two-thirds of divorced or separated couples with children have stated that their biggest regret about splitting up was the impact it had on their children, a new survey has found.

The research (pdf) was commissioned by law firm Seddons in conjunction with The Marriage Foundation and surveyed 867 individuals who had gone through a divorce or separation, 461 of whom had children.   

Women were more regretful about the impact on their children with 38 per cent citing it as their biggest regret compared to 26 per cent of men. Also when asked who was most affected by the divorce or separation, 27 per cent of women said the children while only 20 per cent of men thought the children were most affected.

However, despite their regrets, most respondents indicated that both their relationship with their child (74 per cent) and their children's personal relationships (70 per cent) had not been affected. Nearly a quarter of respondents reported no perceived negative impact on their children whatsoever.

Other biggest regrets cited were the financial consequences (24 per cent) and the way the divorce was conducted (21 per cent). Overall, a majority of respondents (61 per cent) did not regret marrying or cohabitating, despite it ending in a divorce or separation. Of those that did regret their relationship, 32 per cent of women but only 18 per cent of men said ‘it wasn't worth the subsequent pain', suggesting that women find breaking up more painful than men.

The survey also identified that the vast majority of couples failed to get any counselling when the relationship was in difficulty, with large proportions having decided that it was either ‘too late', they ‘never thought about it', or they ‘didn't think it would make a difference'. Given the chance to change the way in which they separated, 24 per cent indicated that they would increase communication with their partner. 

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