Posted on 21 Oct. 2013
Guiding our clients through life-changing events
By Slater and Gordon
As a family lawyer I receive many referrals from other lawyers whose clients’ relationships have broken down while going through the legal claims process.
There is a logical explanation for this. The truth is that life changing events, good or bad, can often lead us to re-evaluate every aspect of our lives. The relationships we keep are obviously a big part of our lives so if we are not entirely happy it is only natural that this would come into consideration.
As lawyers many of the people we help are going through a period of great change in their lives. With any type of change comes uncertainty, which can be stressful and take toll on a person’s mental and psychological wellbeing. It can make them despondent, quick to temper and generally difficult to be around.
In such trying circumstances the tolerance of their partners can be pushed to breaking point so there is no wonder when things don’t go well on the home front. Eventually the deterioration of the relationship may reach a point of no return and that’s when the lawyer handling the legal claim refers the client to me for family law advice.
There is of course another life changing event people may go through during the legal claims process that can also have a bearing on their relationships. Depending on the circumstances it could be that the client is set to obtain a large settlement sum from a legal claim. The sudden change in financial circumstances can be just as pivotal a life changing event as the circumstances leading to the legal claim. Money gives us freedom to start a fresh and re-access what we are doing with our lives and who we are with. If the person expecting to receive the payout has not been entirely happy in their relationship they may wish to take the money and go.
Whatever the reason, having the relationship break down can complicate a case significantly beyond the original legal claim. At the time I consult with the client often the client is worried that the ex-partner will attempt to claim a large share of the settlement from the legal claim being negotiated.
On such occasions I work together with the Slater and Gordon lawyer to take up the fight on behalf of our client on two fronts; first, to negotiate a settlement from the legal claim on behalf of our client; and second, to preserve that settlement and other assets in a family law dispute with the ex-partner.
My task is to argue a case that allows for my client’s special needs within the meaning of the Family Law Act 1975, by preserving a greater percentage in the property settlement than what would otherwise be received in normal circumstances.
Getting the timing right is also important in such cases to ensure the client is not swamped with detail. Ideally in this situation, if we can get the family law case with the ex-partner settled first, our client can focus entirely on the original legal claim with greater certainty.
Finally, when separating financial property with an ex-partner it was important clients amend their will. This is another specialist service provided by Slater and Gordon giving our client peace of mind that their loved ones will be taken care of according to their wishes.
At Slater and Gordon it is not uncommon for our lawyers with expertise in different areas of law to work together so our clients can look to the future with financial certainty knowing that their assets are secure and their needs are taken care of.
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