With Lockdown upon us, and people feeling trapped in marriages they want to leave, for us professionals in Family Law, now more than ever, is the time we are thinking of how to reduce adversity in our work with clients.
Being stuck together with health worries, possibly financial worries too and no where to go to take our mind off these problems, must seem like a dry tinderbox for families in devastating conflict. If we approach the wrong practitioner, one who is only thinking of an hourly fee or ‘winning’ this can easily encourage a more positioned stance of what we are entitled to and how awful the other person sounds etc.
The traditional view people have around divorce, perpetuated by the media and movies, is that it is combative, destructive and costly in both finances and emotions: basically this is the start of war, or this is war.
What I know, working as a family consultant with the great team at Sussex Family Solutions and other lawyers who share an interest in collaborating and mediating, is that there is a different route. By working hard in a collaborative style we can help families through the process together. There is less fear and anxiety for the parents and therefore the children too.
Acknowledging a client’s grief, pain or despair at their family situation is necessary and helpful. Often we are the first person someone tells. It can be hard to talk to family and friends about something you don’t alway understand yourself.
However although, we as collaborative practitioners, do provide empathy for the client, the difference in a collaborative or mediation approach is that we don’t rescue and we don’t collude with either parent/party. As these are traits which later are unhelpful and disempowering.
Helping families manage the tension, and working out practicalities together through divorce is just part of what family consultants do.
The lawyers I work with are dedicated in trying to help couples find an agreement together. This is not to say it isn’t difficult, of course it is. Cutting, splitting, dividing is always painful. But it is less painful in a more supportive environment. We try to ensure the cuts don’t get infected, and that they don’t tear families apart.
Working hard to help families separate together in this strange situation is more important than ever for everyone’s mental health and that of our children.