Anyone who watched the recent TV drama The Split may be looking at family lawyers – women in particular – through slightly different eyes. With the main cast all working for the family firm – apart from one who works for a rival – it offers a somewhat-dramatic view of family law.
Which got me thinking… what do people really know about family lawyers? Are there lots of perceptions and perhaps misconceptions out there which could give people a false impression about what to expect?
I’ve worked as a family lawyer for many (many) years. My particular specialism is complicated financial disputes and disputes over children. I am also a family mediator collaborative lawyer and arbitrator. I love my work and the positive difference that it can make to people’s lives.
It may sound strange to hear a family lawyer talking about ‘positive differences’. Surely I’m here to deal with divorce and family breakups and financial disputes? What can be positive about any of these?
Yes, that’s true. But I’m also here to help people to find a resolution to their issues in the easiest possible way. We can’t mend relationships or magically solve problems but we can offer a smooth, helpful service that results in breakups and disputes being handled with as little drama as possible.
Making the first move
I know that sometimes taking the first step can be the hardest move for a woman. She may have been living unhappily for many years, building up in her head all the reasons she can’t leave – how she would manage financially is often a big reason. Sometimes there’s a trigger, such as children leaving home, or sometimes it’s more of a realisation that things haven’t been working out for some time.
Often by the time a woman comes to see us she has got to the point of simply having had enough and realising that she can’t go on with things as they are. It is undeniably an emotionally difficult time, as lives are being unravelled and rebuilt.
What I would say to a woman at this point is that you have to trust the process and that ultimately you will get to the point that you want to. Of course I can’t promise absolutely everything will go your way, but lots of things will and we always aim for the smoothest-possible resolution.
And what my experience has also taught me is that once the process gets underway women start to gain confidence. By the time we’ve reached a resolution and they can start to put the experience behind them, women start to flourish and come alive, and I am so pleased to have played a part getting them to that point.
As a family lawyer, I know that people are relying on me. It’s a privileged position to be in as I am helping them to find a new path in their lives and move away from often unhappy (and frequently unhealthy) situations. I can’t wave a magic wand and I do have to work within the confines of the law, but I want people to understand the law is there to help them, not to trip them up.
I often act as a confidante to my clients, and am party to very personal information that perhaps they haven’t told anyone else at all. Yes I’m a lawyer, not a counsellor, but I’m also human! I am so full of admiration for those who have had such difficult things to cope with yet have found the courage and confidence to try to move on with their lives. Sometimes I feel that I have helped my clients not only find their way but also find themselves.
I will always strive to find the best solution to support them on this journey.
The Lester Aldridge family team deal with these and other issues on a regular basis and are frequently instructed by clients regarding divorce proceedings.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of separation, arrangements for your children or wish to protect your assets prior to getting married, contact the family team on 01202 786161 or email [email protected]