There has been much in the media about marriage and divorce lately. From so-called “divorce day”, to speculation about whether marriage is essentially the cause of our sixth in line to the throne seeking exile, the portrayal of marital breakdown and divorce law in Marriage Story, or reports of Ant McPartlin's divorce settlement, it is clear that journalists, filmmakers and social commentators remain fascinated by marital breakdown.
The common thread running through all comment is that relationship breakdown is a complex business, in every sense of the word. And it is portrayed as a business, with the value of settlements commonly featuring in reports of celebrity relationship breakdown.
The breakdown of a significant relationship brings different challenges at different life stages:
The term "starter marriage" is used to describe a marriage which takes place at a young age. Whilst couples who separate in their 20's or early 30's may not yet have accrued significant wealth yet, issues around financial contributions made by parents and fertility law issues commonly crop up.
Cohabitation is more common, bringing complex queries about financial provision and what happens if a cohabitant passes away.
Parental rights and responsibilities can present issues in relation to family creation, and subsequent relationship breakdown, or indeed in relation to single parenthood using donor sperm.
The term "Silver Separators" has been coined by the media to refer to individuals who decide to separate in their 50's, 60's and beyond. Such cases can involve complex considerations relating to financial provision.
The end of the life cycle can herald family law issues, particularly where the deceased has entered into a significant second relationship but not disentangled the legal issues flowing from the breakdown of a marriage. Whatever life stage a person is at, though, there will inevitably be emotional, practical and financial fallout.
The portrayal of family lawyers in the media is not always positive. "Marriage Story" mirrors the numerous and nuanced dynamics at play in a difficult divorce, including the dynamic between lawyers, the choice of process used to resolve financial and child related issues, and how stress and the human survival instinct inform the behaviour of and decisions made by the individuals involved in the separation.
It would not surprise me if recent media portrayals of family lawyers caused consternation on the part of individuals who may need to consult one.
But the business of family law need not necessarily be wholly negative.
The potential damage can be minimised and the opportunity for building a successful, positive future maximised:
- Define what you wish the future to bring, not just for you but for the person you once loved, and your child/ren
- Think longer-term – the desire for revenge might feel good now, but will it still feel cathartic in six months’ time?
- Seek out trusted advisors. Sound advice now can pay dividends
- Consider surrounding yourself with a team of trusted advisors who can provide bespoke legal, financial, emotional, and co-parenting advice
- Remember that relationship breakdown is a process leading to a more settled future
- Do not assume that the narrative is fixed. A supportive family lawyer can assist you in finding a more constructive way to resolve issues.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of family law, please contact :
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