The Good Divorce – And How The Careful Use of Language Can Help.


As Helen Adam reminds us in her excellent article  Language Matters: Time to Reframe our National Vocabulary for Family Breakdown” (Helen Adam) [2021] Fam. Law 1015, the language that we use can have a profound effect on the way that we, and others, think. We often see the language of aggression and conflict used in the context of family separation. There is talk of family breakdown, custody battles and splitting up. As Helen argues so persuasively, it is time to change the language that we use around divorce and separation.

In recent months Emma Nash of Fletcher Day has launched the Family Law Language Project to promote the careful use of language by the family law community. And as Resolution reminds us again in their excellent publication “Parenting Through Separation: Putting Your Children First” (May 2021) communicating well with your partner and with your children throughout the divorce and separation process is so important. It can particularly help to develop a cooperative parenting relationship in the years ahead.

The No Fault Divorce legislation (to be available from 6th April 2022) is a very welcome step in taking the blame and fault out of the language of divorce. And as family law practitioners we all need to be mindful of the language that we use on a day-to-day basis.

Finally, you might find this podcast interesting – Communicating During Family Breakdown (September 2020).  In it you will hear FLiP Associate Nicole Phillips, Dr Emma Loveridge, the founder of Rafan House, and Senior FLiP Consultant Gillian Bishop discuss how to communicate well during a divorce or separation and in particular how to be alert to the ripple effect of your communication on your children and other family members.

As Good Divorce Week comes to an end, we all have something to learn.