I smiled, wryly the other day at the cartoon in the Times of the divorce lawyer typing his seasonal email to his client: “We hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family, full of joy and family togetherness … but just in case, we offer an excellent advice package on divorce at very competitive rates…”
The festive season is a stressful time of year for a lot of people and it can push fragile relationships over the edge. Maybe that’s why January is such a busy time of year for us divorce lawyers. With that in mind, and based on my 20 plus years’ experience in the field I’ve put together a few thoughts on things to think through before rushing to the phone and talking a divorce lawyer.
Think first – act later
I know it sounds like common sense but we can all be guilty of not really thinking through the consequences of our actions. For example, the angry client who rants and raves to their lawyer and then demands they send out an extremely aggressive letter to their spouse immediately.This is not a helpful way to start the divorce process and before you know it court proceedings are issued and a Judge is having to determine what is best for the children or how the assets should be divided which nine times out of ten is not what either party wanted.
Keep the children out of it
It is understandable you may wish to discuss the situation with your children, particularly if you feel you have been wronged. However, you need to remember that they are the innocent party in these matters and they shouldn’t be caught in the middle of the arguments. Of course, you should tell them that there is going to be a change in their circumstances but reassure them that you are both doing everything possible to agree arrangements and that you will of course always be there for them.
Get proper advice
Too often I speak to people who have been advised by well-meaning friends or family who have been through a divorce or relationship breakdown. They decide that that advice is correct and believe what they have been told. Misinformation and misunderstanding can add to the distress felt. Every relationship is different and you need to be advised on the legal position for your set of circumstances. It’s essential therefore that you seek out a family law specialist and get accurate, professional advice. With proper advice, you will make better decisions, being open to negotiation if a reasonable offer is received or standing firm if your rights are being ignored.
Don’t ignore your emotions
Talking to a trained health professional or counsellor about the changes that are occurring in your life may help. Too often people decide to keep their feelings inside and try to cope. Not only does this impact on your health and may also hindering any new relationship, it will also affect your ability to make decisions and understand the advice your lawyer is giving you. Your lawyer is not the right person to give you counselling, but they may be able to suggest someone who can help you through this difficult time.
For most the festive season is one full of family and fun, but for anyone in a difficult relationship I hope these thought help and that if you are in a difficult relationship at the moment you find some peace and tranquillity during the festive season.