Take a breath… pause for thought… and consider your options

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A mild mother of two, with a wry smile, shared details with me of a frenzied attack on her husband’s clothes the previous evening upon discovery of his adulterous affair. She confessed that things hadn’t been great in the marriage for some months, years even, with her focus on the children and her husband’s on his work.

He was due back from a business trip that night, unaware of his wife’s recent discovery and vengeful act on his clothes. She wasn’t absolutely certain that he was having an affair but simply saw red when she ‘mistakenly’ opened his credit card statement and noted an entry or two which, in her view, appeared suspicious. She could have been advised to issue divorce proceedings immediately and obtain a court order removing the apparent rogue from the family home.

Clearly this couple needed to talk and decide where their lives were going. My experience told me that a divorce might be on the cards, or it might not. I discussed the various options open to her, including the different methods of negotiation and dispute resolution available as real and successful alternatives to a bitter battle at court. She was surprised to learn that she didn’t necessarily have to go to court to sort matters out. I recommended family therapist, mediators and marriage guidance services in the area and we agreed that I would do nothing until she had spoken with her husband that evening. I checked for any history of domestic violence and there was none. Indeed, she had quite shocked herself by her recent emotional outburst and was already beginning to think about the cost of replacing those ruined clothes.

When a relationship breaks down, it is a natural reaction of friends and family to take sides and indulge the wronged party by demonising the other and allocating blame all one way. Although we still hear divorce horror stories, fictional and factual, family law practice has evolved and many family lawyers have been trained to replace our natural instincts of alignment and defence by focusing instead on practical advice and searching for solutions. Most, including all solicitors at Sharp Family Law, are members of Resolution, a national organisation that supports and promotes a conciliatory approach, from the tone of a letter to use of language and choice of actions.

At Sharp Family Law, we work actively with our clients and collaboratively with other professional to produce resolution, not prolong conflict. We offer resolution through non-adversarial approaches like Collaborative Law, Family Mediation and Constructive Negotiation, where clients can find, tailor and produce an outcome that would work better for them and their family after a separation and/or divorce. We will also represent clients in court litigation when that proves necessary.

Sometimes, as with the lady mentioned above, the best advice is to do nothing but take a breath, pause for thought, decide where in life you want to be, and know how you want to get there.

Article by Sharon Giles

Sharon helps clients to reshape and rebuild their lives beyond a breakup and preserve relationships for the long term. She encourages them to look beyond their present situation, to visualise an alternative future and make informed and realistic decisions to shape it.