For family lawyers the approach of Christmas heralds a number of challenges and concerns. There’s the increase in calls from distressed parents unable to reach agreement about whether their children will spend Christmas Eve with them or their ex-partner. Then there’s the rush to complete and submit paperwork to the courts before the Christmas shut-down. And, not forgetting the, dare I say dread of the deluge of phone calls that tend to face every family lawyer in the first few working days of the New Year.
Of course, these concerns are nothing compared to the worries that face many of our clients. Part of our role as family lawyers is to bring clarity and reduce uncertainty for clients, being accessible to answer their questions and set their mind at rest.
Here are twelve of the most common concerns that those going through divorce or separation bring to their lawyer.
- Where will I live? For most couples their home is afforded on the basis of their joint income and when they separate they have genuine worries about how they can keep a roof over their head.
- Can I actually get divorced? Or in lawyer speak, are there grounds for divorce? A number of people still seem to think that they have to be separated for a period of time or need to admit adultery in order to get a divorce.
- How long will it take? A reasonable question, but one we as lawyers are not entirely in control of as divorce has to follow a certain set of steps and process and disruption, by one of the parties, court questions or demands for more details can cause delay.
- Can my children stay living with me? It’s mostly mums that ask this questions, but not exclusively.
- Will I get to see my children? This is more often the question that fathers ask, especially if the separation is acrimonious and they’ve been told their partner will ‘do anything to prevent them having a relationship with their children’.
- Can we agree a financial split between us? There’s a simple answer to this one and it’s yes. But, and of course there’s always a but, it is important to understand the full implications of the agreement you reach.
- Do I have to go to mediation? Since the Government introduced the requirement to at least consider mediation in disputes around children this is a common concern for those who feel they are being railroaded into something they are not comfortable with.
- Do I have to declare all my assets, even those I had before we married or from personal inheritance? A fair question you might think but one people aren’t always happy to hear the answer to. As was reiterated by two recent cases in the Supreme Court, it’s imperative to be open and honest about your finances.
- Who gets to keep the pets? As surprising as it might be to non pet owners disputes over family pets are far from uncommon.
- Will I still be able to make important decisions about my child’s upbringing? A real concern for separated parents who don’t see their children on a day to day basis.
- Do I need a lawyer? Another sensible question and one we’re more than happy to answer, sometimes even confirming that ‘no, you don’t.’
- How much will it cost? An essential question to ask your lawyer – don’t be afraid to ask for clarity around fees
Don’t let unnecessary concerns and unanswered questions spoil Christmas for you and your family. If you’ve got questions about divorce, separation or arrangements for your children our lawyers can help.
Divorce & family law solicitor