I am regularly asked about how I best help clients.
I think, I have a very “one to one” approach to help clients as they are sharing their emotional soul with me on many levels.
When you are dealing with a person and their personal problems, then, you, as the professional have to see past the client’s emotional issues which may cloud their vision, views and judgement.
An example of this is when I am dealing with financial matters during a divorce. One or both parties are very hurt and their emotions raw. The same applies to children act matters.
So, would you make the same decision if your emotional feelings were not in play?
I help clients in their time of need
It is Friday night or Saturday morning and they receive that unexpected letter or email.
I try and help people when they are feeling at their worst when they may have had a few drinks and all the hurt and pain of the relationship split comes back; when they have started to look around, remembering the good times and realising that the other person is not there and in some cases that their children are not there either.
The end of the relationship may mean that the home where the family spent many lovely years together has to be sold. This may mean a down-grade or not living as close to the city. A client may call (drink in hand) which may be very emotional with the person crying asking if they should send that text or make that remark on social media. My answer is always no, as it is in the heat of the moment.
Often clients will ring me at all times of the day and night, and weekend because they are seeking reassurance about an element of their case. It could be child case where there is mistrust or a financial case where a former partner has done something very silly and had a personal online attack at them. I like to be available for these moments.
I took a call on a Saturday and directed them to the police which gave them peace of mind did not upset their weekend.
Also, no one knows when anxiety calls, it is not like an alarm clock, it could be when you see other couples out and about or you see a family together in the park.
Triggers are individual to that person, so what may trigger one person may not bother another. From experience, it is has become easier to assist a client right when they need it. This time is not always when the practice is open during “office hours”. I try and advise them what to do “in the moment”.
In the moment.
Issues causing triggers could be a text call from an ex who is being nasty or walking past your old home with a new family in it. You may bump into an old friend and they do not know your situation. They innocently ask how you are. On the outside you smile while on the inside your heart is breaking.
One thing’s for sure, the anxiety is often caused by those “in the moment” times. A silly mistake or heat of the moment error can lead to regret and the anxiety kicks in. Clients often ask me how they can stop the anxiety.
I try my best to help, but often a health professional may be better placed to assist.
What I find helps clients, is being able to sit down with them and give then a plan about how to deal with all these issues. I can do this in their office or work place if it helps.
A child may return from contact unhappy; This may just be their way of internalising matters, where they have gone from one family as a whole to now, two halves. It is easy for an anxious parent to over think the child’s sadness and something untoward. Everyone who is part-of a family unit break-up needs time to adjust to the changes.
Family law is complicated and the children have their own issues with school and friends too; exams, will that boy or girl like me, will I get to the next level of my xbox game. These are the problems which fill their lives.
Will my case ever end?
When children are involved the true answer is not until they are old enough to make their own decisions.
Be assured that while the courts are blocked up with mounting cases, it is not that the system does not care. However when it was created, no one could have thought that the courts would see so much social unrest with so many couples splitting up. Both married and non-married couples often seek their remedy in the family court.
But in reality, if you divide the number of people in a city and look at the family courts; if a fraction of people make applications, just do the maths and that is without the other family court matters, like care work. Even in the High Court you come across the same problems of sitting time. There are only so many judges to go around and some of them may be taking time to draft judgements which can change a persons life, or they have been asked to go out of London to sit.
What’s happening behind the scenes?
There are lots of people who want to use the system, which is their right, but family courts are not like a franchise with one on every corner. These courts work long hours and lots of thing go un-noticed which can slow the courts down especially, since legal aid for the majority of cases is no longer available.
While a judge may want to give a case a longer time and retain a case for his or herself to deal with at all subsequent hearings, they do not choose the time estimate/listing, so they are just doing the best they can. Often they are not the listing officer. So a judge may make the phone call and they will see when there are times to suit everyone. They then have to take into account the client’s availability, re work or child care. Not only that, but there is then the issue of whether the solicitor or barrister is available, as they may have other cases or holidays to take or children school holidays or other personal commitments.
Also, experts are instructed in either children or financial matters so their time-table may or may not fit. It is not that the world is against anyone it is life and often not the fault of the system.
In financial matters, a number of people have more wealth to consider, for example a firm, companies, more than one home on different jurisdictions, tax implications, pensions and there are a lot more issues which may need to fit into the timetable.
With regards to financial elements of divorce, the family sector has introduced private Financial Dispute Resolution hearings, to try and assist the parties and the court.
The day to day workings of the family courts
Judge’s like many professionals may have to take work home or come in very early to look at their list for the morning. The list may be long and sometimes it has other matters which are not family.
Also, there are the urgent and emergency matters which the Court will always have to make time for during the day. Please always remember that those you instruct have to make sure bundles are placed in Court, position statements are drafted and cost schedules are ready (in financial matters)
I try and take a commercial view on matters and see whether issues can be settled avoiding lengthy and protracted hearings.
Costs can run into eye watering amounts because of the above which is not anyone’s fault. Unfortunately it is a reality and people want a instant response. However, family law is not just a click of a button because peoples lives are involved and therefore all of the above have to be taken into consideration..
Once that is done then consider which is your best route for you.