back to blog

Can we take the sting out of the divorce tail? 

by Teelan & Silwal

11 January 2024

Divorce.  Such a sharp, hard-hitting word, which can make you shudder, and which conjures images of battle lines being drawn.  If you look at any tabloid newspaper, you are hit with stories of couples at war, inflammatory language about a relationship breakdown, blame being cast and fights for custody of children.  Yet, this does not need to – and should not – be the case.  

Divorce is one of the most stressful experiences you can go through and can bring with it a sense of grief: for the end of the relationship, for the loss of the future life together or plans that may have been made.  Not only do you have to deal emotionally with the breakdown of a relationship and the potential impact upon any children of the family, you also need to detangle your lives together, find a new home and possibly a new job.  

Going through a divorce can be a brutal and harrowing experience for some.  For others, it can be a time of great sadness, but what it should not be is a war between two people.  Of course, there are exceptions to how a divorce can proceed, and I think in particular of anyone who has suffered at the hands of an abusive partner, for example.  For the vast majority of people, though, it should be possible to get through a divorce without feeling completely broken by the end of it.   

So how can we take the sting out of the divorce tail?  Removing the element of blame from divorce, as was introduced nearly two years ago, is a starting point, but there also has to be a commitment from the couple to be as amicable as possible and to work together to reach a resolution.  One way to help achieve that is by changing and softening the language that separating couples use with each other, with any children of the family and indeed the language used between the legal professionals involved.    

Without question, momentum has been building within the legal profession to move away from outdated combative language, which perpetuates conflict between a separating couple, to a more neutral language, but this shift to less confrontational language needs to be seen more widely than just within the legal profession.  Our media, politicians and even soap opera writers all have their own role to play in bringing about the change that is so desperately needed.  In March 2023, the Government announced a consultation into mandatory mediation, which “will mean separating couples have to attempt to agree their child custody and financial arrangements through a qualified mediator with court action being a last resort.”  “Child custody”….! We moved away from this term and towards “parental responsibility”, as set out in the Children Act 1989, over thirty years ago.  Our politicians need to do better and ditch the outdated language and move towards the correct language of a “Child Arrangements Order”, as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014, rather than “custody”, which quite frankly makes children sound more like chattels than the most important part of the family and the first consideration.

If you would like advice about your situation from solicitors who will actively work to take the sting out of your divorce, then please contact us.

Other blog articles


2 Stephen Street


The Stanley Building
7 Pancras Square