Family law – Dispelling some myths (or breaking up doesn’t need to be quite so hard to do)

Unfortunately, many people have a distorted view of the role of lawyers in Family Law matters. Moreover, what you read, see or hear in the media, or form well- meaning acquaintances is often wrong. And very few people understand their legal position upon separation without getting advice.

So let’s try and dispel some of the more common myths about lawyers and your legal position:

Myth 1 – We are trying to keep it friendly so we shouldn’t see a lawyer.

  • Fact 1 –Keeping it as friendly as possible is certainly a good idea.
  • Fact 2 –That doesn’t mean you don’t need legal advice! Lawyers are not just there to engage in fights on your behalf and certainly are not there to encourage you to get into a fight where there does not need not be one.
  • Fact 3 –Going to see a lawyer isn’t like buying a ticket on a runaway bus. It is far more usual for us to find ourselves steering people away from fights rather than into them. A good lawyer will advise you about how to achieve the best result without getting into unnecessary disputes. We understand that you are the client, you provide instructions and we provide advice – we don’t tell you what to do.
  • Fact 4 –Knowledge is power. How do you know what you should be agreeing to if you don’t know what your basic legal rights are? If you think that you are doing yourself a favour by avoiding learning about the legal consequences of separation, you need to think again. Time and time again we see people who get themselves into difficulties (and unnecessarily stressed) because they either assumed, or maybe just hoped, that they knew how things worked – and they didn’t. One trip to a lawyer could have saved them a lot of trouble.
  • Fact 5 –Your partner might already have seen a lawyer themselves. You wouldn’t know if they had and you could be negotiating at a disadvantage with someone who is happy enough to educate themselves about the correct legal position, but would prefer that you didn’t.

If you ultimately decide to proceed without a lawyer – well, that’s your choice. But we urge you to get some advice first. We have a Free First Interview Scheme so you shouldn’t be scared off by the question of costs.

Myth 2 – I haven’t finally decided if I want to separate so I don’t need to see a lawyer.

  • Fact – You need to think carefully about the wisdom of that. Aren’t the legal consequences of separation one of the things you should be considering before making your decision? Don’t worry, we won’t be encouraging you to separate if you ultimately don’t want to do so.

Myth 3 – We’ve sorted out an agreement we are happy with, so we don’t need to see a lawyer.

  • Fact – Any property settlement you reach is not legal binding unless it is confirmed in Court Orders or through a Binding Financial Agreement. For a Financial Agreement to be binding it needs to be signed off by lawyers acting for both parties. And a Court won’t just “rubber stamp” an agreement. Why is that? Well, it’s because it is notorious that people going through separation make big mistakes in trying to sort things out themselves and will often enter into unfair settlements if they don’t get proper advice or are pushed into an agreement by the other person. You have to have legal advice (or court approval of the orders) before the agreement is recognised as legally final and binding.

Myth 4 – My friend went through this and they can tell me what I need to do.

  • Fact 1 – Friends and family who have been through this before can be very helpful in getting you through this but … note Fact two!
  • Fact 2 – What they should be telling you to do is get some legal advice. It’s dangerous to just rely on second hand advice, however well meant. Legally and practically, their circumstances might have been very different to yours. The law in this area is complex.

Myth 5 – My partner is difficult so I need to find the meanest lawyer in town to fight him/her.

  • Fact – You do need a strong, experienced lawyer who is prepared to fight for you if and when the occasion calls for it. We can do that– we’ve been involved in a number of hard fought disputes and we know how to look after our client’s interests. However, don’t confuse bombast and expressions of aggression for strength and quality of service and don’t lose sight of the fact that a calm, steady, logical mind concentrated on getting the best outcome for you is what you need most.

Myth 6 – The lawyers will string the process out as they make more money if they do so.

  • Fact – Some (but comparatively few) lawyers don’t pay enough attention to how much the process is costing the client – both financially and emotionally. That’s not the way we do business.
    We charge on a fee for service basis. So, yes, the more work we have to do, the more it costs. However, the key concept here is what “work we have to do”. We haven’t been in business this long by making matters more drawn out or complex than they need to be. We give you the advice that best suits your matter for you.

Still need a bit more information? Feel free to give us a call. It won’t cost you anything to have a chat to find out if we can help you.

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