No. This is not an exclusive about Snow White, or indeed Brexit, although similar principles apply.
No. I am not a psychologist or a counsellor, but practising divorce law, a good lawyer should have empathy and sympathy for their client, and their spouse.
A lawyer should have a good understanding of the emotional and psychological burdens placed upon both husband and wife, facing the prospects of divorce.
A good strategy in divorce is first and foremost to listen to your client. That does not just include instructions, but going deeper, to understand where your client is in terms of the specific stage of grief/mourning, encountered.
Breaking up is like losing a member of the family. It is as if someone close to you, died; that feeling of emptiness and loneliness, or joy and contentment, as the case may be…
Before those reading fill their minds with vitriol and bitterness, it need not be like that.
Just as those in a relationship going through hard times, recall only the bad things, there must have been some attraction; some good things to start with or else you would not have entered into a relationship in the first place.
My starting point, and that of any good lawyer acting in their client’s best interests, would be to seek to save the marriage, especially when there are children involved.
Indeed, the courts expect husband and wife to attend counselling to try and work things out. There is a positive duty upon husband and wife to try to reconcile their differences.
The latest child psychologist expert reports say that parents in an unloving relationship should remain together, however unhappy they are, for the sake of the children, so long as they can keep their arguments behind closed doors. If however, those arguments spill outside of those closed doors, the general recommendations are for those parents to no longer be together.
You resolved your differences? I am happy for you.
You were unable to resolve your differences and commence divorce? The heavens cry…Very few divorces are straight-forward and without pain. If managed well, however, the usual issues that cause friction, can be minimalised.
I am not about to give away trade secrets as to what buttons cause more or less effect, when pressed. Instead, you need to consider where you are, and where your husband/wife is, in relation to the stages.
The sevens stages of grief are as follows:
People are different. They get to different stages at different times. It is important to recognise where both husband and wife hold. Husband may be in denial, whereas wife is angry, or vice versa. When they are both in different places, any negotiations in relation to contact with children, or financial matters, are unlikely to be productive.
Someone who remains bitter and angry, will seldom be in the right frame of mind to negotiate anything other than an ‘all or nothing approach’. Room for compromise when in the stage of anger, is nigh on impossible.
Just like Brexit, we were united in shock. The ‘remainers’ shocked at a decision to leave, and the ‘leavers’, shocked they obtained the majority vote.
A decision made to divorce, should be your own, and not that of your family dictating how they know best. They mean well, but it really must be your decision whether to remain or to leave.
Some politicians in our country, went through a stage of denial to challenge the fairness or the vote having regard to misrepresentations, and disinformation as to what was better or worse. Relationships flow that way sometimes.
Moving on, one hopes that mediation or a financial dispute resolution hearing can push a husband and wife to a stage of bargaining. Someone at a point of depression or apathy during negotiations, will likely abandon any fight they have, favouring a quiet life, and the possibility of just being rid of a former partner at any cost.
A good lawyer should recognise someone in that stage and seek to adjourn a time to negotiate, so that their client can deal with such a bout of despondency.
Be mindful as to where you are in the seven stages. Recognise that there has to be some re-positioning in terms of compromise, and a different mind-set when negotiating, however, bitter and upsetting the split may be.
Professor David Rosen is a Solicitor-Advocate. He is a partner and head of litigation at Darlingtons Solicitors LLP; a Certified Fraud Examiner with further memberships with the Society of Legal Scholars, the Law Society, Resolution, and SAHCA. He is an honorary professor of law at Brunel University where he regularly lectures upon fraud, and advocacy amongst other subjects.
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