Why your lawyer concentrates on facts, not feelings

by Peter Magee on October 18, 2011

Peter Magee
It can be very difficult to work out what is best for your child, yourself, or your financial future, when you separate.  It is often an extremely emotional time, and you may sometimes feel that your lawyer only looks at the facts and not at your feelings.  Apart from advising you not to destroy property and not to publish embarrassing or inflammatory material about the other person on Facebook or anywhere else, lawyers generally leave clients to deal with the emotional side of separation without the lawyer’s involvement. Friends, family and counsellors can provide you with valuable emotional support during legal proceedings, and a lot of them will also tell you about what happened in their own family law cases but they cannot offer you sound legal advice (unless they are also family lawyers!)

As lawyers, we can only provide you with a legal solution to the problems that you raise, and that is why you need to be clear in your own mind as to what are the best and worst outcomes for you. At the time of separation emotions are raw, however as time passes, a lot of people find it is possible to reach a polite working relationship with their ex-partner. Despite the hurt, anger, frustration or sadness you may feel at separation, you need to be able to provide your lawyer with clear and realistic instructions about the results you wish to achieve.

You also need to be clear about what it is that you want your lawyer to do, not what your neighbour or workmate or family members think you should do.

I have had so many clients tell me that they wanted 50/50 care of their children (like their workmate), or to keep the family home (like their neighbour did), or an apology from their mother in law. Each time, I have asked for my client to consider the practicality of what they are asking for, and whether it will really work in their situation. Where one parent works interstate, 50/50 time with a child is not usually practical and not likely to be in the best interests of the child. Where the asset pool includes a house which has a huge mortgage, if there is no way to pay out the mortgage and it must be refinanced. No matter what orders you come up with, the bank might not allow the refinance to a person with a single income. As for the apology, the Court cannot order people who are not parties to its proceedings to do, or not do things.

Everyone needs a lot of emotional support during separation. It can help to hear about the experiences of other separated people, or the legal outcomes they achieved in their family law settlements. But when instructing your lawyer, you need to focus on your own unique situation, provide your honest instructions, and discuss with your lawyer what the realistic best and worst case scenarios will be for you, in your circumstances.

Your lawyer cannot provide you with the key to a happy life, but we can help you to reach a resolution which will allow you to move on with your life.  The most satisfying outcome for you will be one you help to build yourself.

If you are currently considering or experiencing a family separation you can contact Armstrong Legal to speak to one of our experienced and friendly family law solicitors about the options available to you. Your lawyer will be able to explain to you what other support services are available to help you during this difficult time.

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