I hope I can give you an insight into what I do and how I help people when they are often at their lowest point. When I meet people socially for the first time I am often asked “What do you do?” I usually respond with “Well I help people resolve family law issues without going to Court. I am a mediator.” I must say that usually gets a better response than simply saying “I am a family lawyer.” Few people have a fond memory of their dealings with the family court and usually want tell me how they were badly treated or let down by the court process.
Over nearly 30 years I have watched in dismay the damage caused to litigants in the Family Court both physically, psychologically and financially. This isn’t because the Family Courts don’t do what they are required to do but because 95% of cases shouldn’t be in court in the first place. Most court matters settle (again 95% is the figure quoted most often) before the trial stage through negotiation, mediation and sometimes just plain exhaustion. You might ask “Why start court proceedings in the first place?” The answer is that litigation is often just not the answer in 95% of cases!
As all lawyers know Court outcomes in property settlements are very uncertain. The Family Law Act provides a discretion to Judges on how they might ultimately decide an outcome and lawyers can rarely give precise advice as to what you might achieve as an outcome at trial. The best a lawyer can advise their client in most cases is that “We can’t be precise but we believe that you are entitled to between x% and y%. That opinion is just that, an educated opinion, that at the end of the day may be wrong because Courts make decisions based upon evidence presented at trial and judges will place their own interpretation and importance on the evidence presented. In addition, all those emotional issues you think are important generally won’t mean anything to a Judge and will have little or no influence on the court’s decision.
Our children are of course our greatest asset and deserve all the attention parents can give them, even when separating. As I often remind mediation participants “Its just not about maintaining good parental relationships with the children when they are under 18 years. It goes way beyond that. Children have 18th birthdays, 21st birthdays, go to university, get engaged, get married, have children, and yes they are your grandchildren.”
The relationship parents have with each other will go on for the rest of their life. Children will respect their parents knowing that they did all they could to maintain a civil working relationship after separation for their benefit.”
Lawyers: Is your client about to have orders made at trial or by consent? Consider getting the Court to order appointment of a parenting co-ordinator.
Parents & others: Do you have a court order or parenting plan? Is the court about to make a parenting order? A Parenting Coordinator can help you manage conflict, resolve issues and educate both parents about how to move forward and co-parent in a healthy way.