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The strength of sibling relationships when coping with divorce

Posted on 13th April 2021 in Family Law

Posted by

Bea Taylor

The strength of sibling relationships when coping with divorce

Divorce can be traumatic for all involved, however siblings can sometimes strengthen their relationship by going through this shared experience.

When a couple get a divorce it is often a stressful and difficult time and can be particularly painful for the children.  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

  • 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.


Points to consider when thinking about your children’s needs

Consideration of child arrangements can sometimes be forgotten following the breakdown of a relationship in the midst of 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.


How can Tozers help?

For further help or information about anything mentioned in this article, or to talk to one of our dedicated Family team, visit their hub page.

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