Bayside Family Law Solutions are privileged to hear the stories – both the wins and challenges – from the individuals and families we support. We’re pleased to share these unique stories with you, beginning with this journey through separation and settlement. This blog reflects our client’s unique experiences as she moved through life changes and the legal process.
“When I first separated from my partner of eleven years, I was an emotional mess. Although I hadn’t been happy in the relationship for a while, I didn’t want it to end. I wanted it to change but that was not possible. I was still reeling from this relationship when I first met with my solicitor. I cried as I shared my ‘sorry story’ at our first meeting. Fortunately, my solicitor was calm, supportive and helped me to focus on what needed to be done to navigate the legal aspects of the separation and achieve a fair property settlement.
The thought of fighting for my legal rights was stressful and some friends and family members advised me not to pursue it. The other option was to simply accept what my ex-partner was offering. I knew this was not fair, and that I needed to put my needs first and push through the challenges.
I am in my 60s and have heard too many stories of women who have ended up extremely disadvantaged when they have decided pursuing a fair settlement has been too much for them. I did not want to be in that situation. By working on my own feelings, and taking advice from my legal team, we finally achieved a successful outcome through court ordered mediation.
In this article, I am happy to share the following thoughts and recommendations that helped me to navigate the process and ultimately grow through it.”
Understand your emotions
The most difficult and important thing for me was to regain control of my emotions. My relationship breakdown was devastating and I was left feeling a range of emotions – from grief to fear and anger. The anger I felt was exacerbated when I received correspondence that outlined an outcome that would have been extremely disadvantageous to me. If I had carried the anger I felt when this correspondence first arrived through to the end of the process, things would have been very different. I took steps in understanding that while the anger I felt was normal, it wasn’t helpful. If I had continued with this fury, I may not have achieved as positive an outcome as I did.
Seek emotional support
If you are struggling emotionally from the relationship breakdown, there is plenty of help available. Many people are eligible for subsidised counselling through Medicare with referral from a GP. In addition to seeing a counsellor, there is a large amount of supplementary information online. I found several YouTube channels particularly useful. There are helpful guides for those with trouble sleeping, calming meditations and affirmations for reflection and great resources from mental health and wellbeing organisations for tough days.
Through face-to-face counselling, accessing the resources above and working to programs specific to my experience I was able to let go of the pain and focus on approaching the settlement from a more rational and less emotional standpoint.
Flip the angle.
It is simple to feel like the victim in the process of separation and settlement. In this sense, it can be a natural reaction to look at your legal team as potential rescuers. Instead, it is important to work with them to flip the dynamic towards your own empowerment. By making a choice and effort to exclude myself from additional drama, I was able to view the members of my legal team as being like coaches rather than rescuers. I needed to play my part to achieve a good outcome, take advice from the ‘coach’ and let them do their job.
Solicitors, barristers and mediators are experts in family law. They will advise you on where you stand in relation to the law and what information and evidence you need to provide to back up your case. They will prepare the arguments and affidavits but can only do so if provided with the relevant information. It can be time-consuming and emotionally draining to put all of that together, but doing as good a job as you can is important. This is a time when counselling can help you to cope with the stress.
There will be times when your solicitor, barrister, or a mediator, will say things that you don’t want to hear. Maybe your case is not as strong as you thought, or you perceive the law to be unfair. In my case the mediator pointed out that I could lose if the case went to a hearing, and that the offer on the table at that point of time could be better than what a judge might rule. Thus, I listened and took advice from my solicitor and barrister and responded in an empowered way. I decided not to accept the offer on the table at that point and subsequently received a better one.
Shift the focus
Try to stop focusing on your ex-partner, what they did or what they’re doing. Instead, shift the focus to yourself, your life and your future. Your life will change, so focus on what you want out of it. The parts you want to bring with you into your new stage of life and the parts you want to leave behind. Shift the focus from reacting to what’s happening to you, to responding to the situation with thought and measure. Reconnect with yourself and focus on your dreams and desired outcomes.
It was our privilege at Bayside Family Law Solutions to work with this client, and successfully achieve an outcome that enables them to look forward to a future with hope and optimism. For similar support, reach out here.