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With the news that Angelina Jolie and her children are seeking therapy while her divorce from Brad Pitt proceeds, are children the silent victims of divorce? A new book published by Mishcon de Reya with children’s charity Place2Be features children’s heart breaking stories of growing up in the middle of divorce. The stories include a child who would like to speak to her Dad more but her Mum wants to save her credit. Or the girl who came home from school one day to find that her Dad had gone. “I felt like they left me all by myself. I felt like my life wouldn’t be the same again…I did have a photo of Dad by my bedside but Mum didn’t like it…I think maybe she threw it away. I wish I still had it”. Sadly, the anxiety reported by these children is not uncommon. Unhappy parents may deceive themselves into thinking that they are protecting their children but that in itself may have a damaging effect. Couples rely on myths such as assuming that pre-schoolers will not know what is going on, or that arguing when the children have gone to bed means that they do not know about it. But what of the child who lies awake listening to the raised voices, and then wonders why it has gone quiet. Children are intuitive and will be able to detect the tension and atmosphere in the home. This may have a knock on effect on their behaviour both in the home and at school. Sometimes parents cannot see past their own situation to see the damaging effect their behaviour is having on their children. This can include letting the child stay up late or eat junk food, knowing that their spouse would disapprove. A number of parents send their child to the other parent in old or ill-fitting clothing to force the other parent to spend money buying clothes but what effect does that have on the child sent in last year’s t-shirt? Parents trying to hurt each other can end up hurting their child far more. Instead, children should be at the focus of any discussions about divorce and separating. At Ramsdens, all of our family lawyers are committed to resolving relationship breakdown in a constructive and non-confrontational way, seeking to ensure that the short term process of dividing lives and finances does not cause lifelong damage to the children. We are pleased to be able to offer early morning and late night appointments across our twelve offices between 7.45am and 7.00pm at a time to suit you. Call our Family Law Helpline on 08000 147720, email or text LAW to 67777 to arrange your appointment today and we can discuss how you can separate your lives, focussing on your children.