I was recently invited to my first divorce party. This is significant as I was the divorce lawyer involved. I was touched to receive the invite as it means a lot that the client a) thought to invite the person who went through all the horrible stuff with her and b) that having gone through all of the horrible stuff with her she still wanted to invite me despite, I suppose, the role I played and the association of a divorce lawyer with all the horrible stuff.
Over the years we become more than client and lawyer. We become friends in many cases. We become immersed in our clients' lives and, depending on how long a case takes, we can watch their children grow up.
The party is not really a divorce party, rather a party to mark a new start in this client's life. That is what she is celebrating, the new opportunities that she can embrace and the new challenges ahead. She starts with a (relatively) clean slate and a lot wiser than she was some years ago. She has survived and grown stronger despite and the trials and tribulations of the past few years.
For anyone, a separation and divorce at the end of a relationship is hard, whether they are the instigator or the other party. Hardly anyone sets out to cause their spouse pain. They loved one another once. It is reaching the other end and getting on with life that is important. Life really is too short to devote what can be years to a destructive and bruising divorce.
Of course there are issues which need to be resolved - finances, maintenance and arrangements for children - and if agreement cannot be reached, whether by negotiation, collaboration or meditation, then reference to the Court's decision is necessary. Nevertheless for the majority of separated couples most of their issues can, and therefore should, be capable of agreement. With a degree of willing on both sides and a sense that both respect and recognise the important issues of the other, it should be possible to reach agreement and in so doing saving time stress, worry and, of course, money. A good deal achieved by agreement gives a family solicitor as much satisfaction, if not more, than a favourable judgement after a long Court hearing.
It is very easy to slip into the trap of "he said, she said" tit for tat. Using lawyers to "beat each other up" is not a positive or productive exercise and most solicitors discourage it. It is far more healthy, in my view, to focus on the new opportunities which arise, even if not all are obvious initially – the wife who has to go back to work to make ends meet often discovers a passion for a career given up long ago. The father who works most weekends rediscovers his children and the joy of free/family time at the weekend.
And, of course, new beginnings will often include a new relationship. Always older and often wiser after a divorce or separation, people tend to be very cautious going into a new relationship - often their first new relationship in many years - sometimes with a cohabitation agreement in place to try to avoid a row second time around. The joy and excitement of that new relationship can provide a real boost after the "horrible stuff".
So at the party I shall celebrate for all those clients enjoying a new beginning.
Harper Macleod's team of family solicitors understands that divorce and separation can have a huge impact on your life, and can guide you through the best course of action with sensitivity and objectivity. Getting the best advice is crucial to resolving your situation, and there are many options available to you, from litigation and arbitration to negotiation, mediation and collaboration. We have also designed a number of packaged fees which, in certain circumstances, will let you know from the outset what the costs will be.
To talk to one of our team call 0141 227 9545.