The Christmas season is said to be one of the most joyful times of the year, however any good family lawyer will likely report otherwise. With immense pressure on families both socially and financially, it is unsurprising that this season is one of the busiest times of the year for the family law sector. Without wanting to sound like ‘The Grinch who stole Christmas’, the end of year holiday period has proven to be the catalyst of many relationship breakdowns. The most common of those being partner/spouse relationships. Particularly in view of the recent lockdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, many families have spent the better part of the year ‘trying to make it work’, unable to physically distance themselves from each other due to being locked down in the same home, and for some, trying to maintain some familiarity and stability for their children during the pandemic.
The New Year brings with it a sense of hope and for those families struggling to survive as a unit, it is commonly an appropriate time to take the leap into separation. A new year, begs for a new start, hence the end of year rush to address family law matters. The chances are if you are reading this blog, you are contemplating, or have already separated from your partner or spouse. Whilst this may seem daunting, it is our job as family lawyers to make this transition as painless as possible. There are various options available to you to ensure that the process is as involved or uninvolved as you would like it to be. For those who know what they want to do and simply need their agreement formalised, we would suggest engaging a solicitor to attend to the drafting to ensure the agreement is as ‘water-tight’ as possible. It is more common however that parties are unsure of what they want and in those circumstances dispute resolution services are a common starting point. In either scenario, it is a life-changing event and you would be assisted having a support person to guide you through it, whether that be a lawyer, accountant or close friend.
If you are considering separation and are unsure of whether now is the right time, we suggest that you consider the following questions:
- Are you a victim of domestic violence – domestic violence as defined under the Family Law Act 1975 goes beyond physical violence. Whilst it is a common misunderstanding, the law recognises that violence extends to emotional, psychological and financial abuse.
- Do you have assets for which you have combined ownership with your former partner or spouse and you are concerned that if you separate you may ‘lose’ your entitlement?
- Are you unable to manage amicably communicating parenting arrangements with your former partner or spouse?
- Are you concerned that your children are at risk within your family unit or whilst they are spending time with their other parent?
- Are you on amicable terms with your former partner or spouse and wish to divide your wealth as amicably as possible?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, it is an appropriate time for you to take the next step and seek out advice from a family lawyer. We are ready and able to equip you with the advice you need to start the New Year feeling more at ease. For most of our families, a clear pathway to move forward is what is most valued.
Another common issue arising during the end of year holidays occurs between separated parents struggling to navigate parenting arrangements. Incorporating each parent and their respective families into the sentimental parts of the season is often the sticking point and the cause for conflict, engaging lawyers and sometimes litigation. At Farrar Gesini Dunn, we emphasise solution focused practice. The aim of our approach is to preserve as much as possible the co-parenting relationship between parents. With that in mind, if the above applies to you, we are well rehearsed in providing parents with the right approach to resolve their dispute.
The Christmas holidays are a taxing affair for a raft reasons. If support, stability and guidance is what you require to start off the New Year on the ‘right foot’ please feel free to contact one of our experienced solicitors.
Article By: Anne Ariyaratnam
Anne is a competent and passionate lawyer. Having practised exclusively in family law since her admission, Anne has acted across a wide range of family law matters in particular, complex financial cases. Anne has also acted in complex parenting cases involving family violence and abuse (including the abuse of children). She understands the fragility of families in these cases.