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How does divorce affect siblings?

Posted on 29th November 2021 in Family Law

Posted by

Aimee Aspinall

Associate and Chartered Legal Executive
How does divorce affect siblings?

Divorce can be traumatic for everyone involved, especially children, however siblings can often strengthen their relationship by going through this shared experience.

It is widely understood divorce can have a negative impact on children as they witness their parent’s separation and all that it entails. When trying to understand how divorce impacts siblings it is vital to acknowledge that, for some, the shared experience can enhance their pre-existing relationship.


Positive consequences of divorce for children

Stability - Uncertainty about the future can be an inherent part of divorce, with siblings often having to travel back and forth between their parents and/or step parents. Children appreciate predictability and routine so any sudden changes can cause additional stress.  Siblings are able to act as one of the few constant forms of stability throughout this difficult time.

Reassurance – Siblings can provide a comforting emotional and physical presence to each other and help alleviate stress. Siblings may feel they can talk openly to each other about what is happening rather than with their parents for fear of upsetting or angering them.  Sometimes simply knowing that they are not alone in their feelings of anxiety or sadness can be the reassurance they need.

Safety – Often older siblings will help their younger siblings through divorce by caring for them and ensuring they have someone who will look out for them during difficult times. Older siblings may also act as a shield in protecting their siblings from any conflict between their parents which can be distressing.


The importance of keeping siblings together

Siblings can help each other come to terms with divorce and the impact it has on the current and future family dynamic.  During the divorce process, the children may become embroiled in the disputes between the parents which may result in the unjustifiable separation of siblings where one or both parents prevent their children from seeing one another. This can have a detrimental impact as the separation of siblings can mean their one constant presence is taken away leaving siblings suffering from intense separation anxiety.

Emotions can sometimes get in the way when parents separate and it can be difficult to work out what to do for the best in relation to your children. The starting point must always be to put your children’s needs at the forefront of your mind.


Thinking about children’s needs during separation

Consideration of child arrangements can sometimes be forgotten following the breakdown of a relationship during a divorce, so it is important to try and agree on future plans as early as possible to ensure their routine is not suddenly disrupted. When considering child arrangements, it is always a good idea to keep your children informed about what your plans are and to ask them for their own opinions where possible.

It can be helpful to consider the following points in relation to your children’s needs;

  • The age of your children and how their needs will change as they grow up.
  • Whether your children have different needs and require different arrangements.
  • Your children’s wishes and feelings.
  • How any changes will affect your children.
  • How your children will remain in contact with friends and family.
  • Where your children go to school and any other extracurricular activities.


Making child arrangements

If your relationship breaks down, you and your ex-partner should be able to avoid going to Court if you can listen to one another and agree on where your children will live, how much time they will spend with each of their parents and how your children will be supported financially.

You should seek the advice of a solicitor if you are unable to agree on child arrangements.


Find out more

For any help or support with separation, child arrangement orders, or supporting your children, then please contact our dedicated Family Law team. 

To read more insights on Family Law, divorce and separation, please visit our Good Divorce Week page.

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