The holidays are a time when emotions can run high even in the happiest of households. So it means they can be hugely difficult for families that are experiencing relationship breakdowns – particularly when any separation is relatively new.
The film ‘Marriage Story’ currently streaming on Netflix highlights how complicated, layered and devastating a marriage breakdown can be. It accurately plays out the range of emotions that most divorcees will experience from sadness and despair through to fear and anger. And it also explores how divorce and separation impacts all family members, extended as well as immediate.
However, for me, the movie’s main message is how important it is to find the right lawyer who will listen to what you want to achieve – and guide you through what can sometimes be a terrible time in the best way possible.
It’s fair to say that the lawyers in Marriage Story are (I hope!) exaggerated, dated stereotypes of what people might think a ‘good’ lawyer looks and sounds like. However, they bear no resemblance to the specialist lawyers I work alongside. Watching the film is a crash course in how not to choose a solicitor and shows how easily matters can spiral into acrimony if the parties are steered down the wrong path. While both sides start out wanting to deal with matters amicably between them, they end up in bitter court proceedings through fear and bad advice.
Although the court process can sometimes be the best option, it is only suitable in a small minority of cases when one party just won’t engage in the process and progress can’t be made. In my experience, most divorce cases don’t go to court and are resolved through dispute resolution processes such as negotiation, mediation, collaborative law or arbitration. All these approaches are far less contentious and more relaxed than the traditional court route, requiring the parties to play an active role in making key decisions about the divorce settlement and arrangements for children.
Over the last 15 years or so, I have helped many couples navigate the divorce process via dispute resolution processes, and these options are, without doubt, more effective and less expensive than court litigation. Some couples even manage to remain friends at the end of it!
At Sharp Family Law we know how hard divorce can be, particularly when children are involved. We therefore do our utmost not to make it any harder. We appreciate that every aspect of life is affected by divorce and emotional, financial as well as legal specialists are needed. Therefore, we’re committed to working alongside other experts, from family counsellors through to financial advisers. We make sure the appropriate professionals are on hand to provide guidance and advice every step of the way.
While in Marriage Story (spoiler alert!) the parties manage to reach a place where they have a healthy relationship and co-parent respectfully, they achieve this despite the process rather than as a result of it. Our aim is to help couples get to that same place without experiencing the destructive impact of endless months of painful, as well as expensive, court proceedings.
If you’re unfortunate enough to experience relationship issues over the holidays and it looks like it may lead to separation, then it’s important to receive advice from a solicitor who will take the time to listen to what you want and advise you on a process that’s right for your family. At Sharp Family Law we will do just that.