One of our clients who was a deep sea diver likened separation to his first dive. He had all of the theory locked in his mind but as soon as he hit the water there were some basic issues about which he hadn’t really thought. The most pressing issue, he told us, was to continue breathing while under water.
The most basic of requirements and issues are often disguised by the emotions. Michael could no longer live in the marriage and told Mary that he was leaving the matrimonial home. Mary was distraught. She was now a single mother of a small child aged 14 months. How was she to survive? Michael had gone.
Mary sought advice from her family. The family was angry with Michael. Mary was told, among other things, to tell Michael to wake up to himself; to take all of the money out of the bank account; not let Michael see his 14 month old daughter; change all of the locks on the doors, and to run the credit card up to its maximum limit.
In these circumstances, all of this advice is unhelpful.
Eventually, Mary sought the assistance of an experienced Family Lawyer. They made an assessment as to what were Mary’s immediate needs. “The very first thing that we should do Mary is write to Michael about what financial provision he intends to make for you and the child”. Now there is good advice.
A well-drafted letter can often eliminate the need to do anything else. Mary’s Family Law Specialist wrote to Michael. It was Michael’s intention that the joint account into which his wages were paid was to remain available to Mary until such time as some other arrangement was agreed to.
That simple advice from Mary’s Family Law Specialist could possibly have saved Mary thousands of dollars. In addition, it had lifted enormous stress from Mary’s shoulders.
Mary was now financially comfortable for the immediate future. She and their child were not going to starve. They had a roof over their heads. There was money available to them. Mary could now start to think logically in relation to her future needs and how those needs could be met in the long term.
If short term issues are identified and addressed people have space to think about the long term questions. The short term issues are generally accommodation, availability of money and spending time with children.
If the party to a separation gets advice that is destructive, unrealistic or plainly wrong in the initial period, then it is very difficult to achieve a long term realistic outcome. “I will get you everything. I will crush him.” This is the type of advice that is destructive, unrealistic and just plain wrong.
If you obtain proper and realistic advice from the outset, it paves the way for an outcome which is acceptable to both parties and, most importantly, the children.
If you would like more information, contact us to arrange an initial consultation or call (02) 9523 3007.