Family Disputes cause much heartache and feelings of helplessness. Over the years, I have encountered several families who seem to want to settle their disputes but are so emotionally drained that they cannot seem to communicate their thoughts to their partners clearly.
It becomes hard for them to put pen to paper or to try and articulate their thoughts. They find it hard to negotiate between themselves as mixed feelings come to the surface and prevent any real constructive negotiations from taking place.
This is understandable.
It’s not easy trying to juggle mixed feelings and, at the same time, reach an agreement.
Many family law cases involve children. In fact, many of these cases are disputes about the care arrangements that need to be dealt with.
Numerous parents, I have spoken to say that their children seem to know that things are just not right at home, even when they try to avoid conversation in front of them.
They explain that they can see a shift in their children’s behaviour.
They feel their children are saddened by the situation they find themselves in between parents who disagree most times.
These children are often confused and feel they need to choose a side when they don’t. Being caught in this crossfire can confuse, and this confusion then hosts a range of other feelings within them.
The family becomes involved in what appears to be a never-ending cycle of mixed emotions.
I often advise clients to try and reach an agreement that ensures that the children enjoy a meaningful relationship with each parent (unless other issues of concern exist).
The focus should be on the best interests of the children and what would protect them best. Arguing over minor issues that can easily be dealt with causes pain and delays settlement.
Of course, some cases require urgent attention and action, for example, cases in which there is family violence or a risk of violence, substance abuse or a risk of one parent leaving the country with the children without consent.
Every case is different and is dealt with accordingly.
Having heard many client stories over the years has enabled me to pinpoint areas of concern that need to be dealt with immediately.
Family Lawyers will generally encourage and assist with early settlement.
We can assist by giving you advice about your rights and responsibilities as a parent. We can help with putting forth options, preparing parenting plans, preparing consent orders and doing all we can to avoid litigation.
If it becomes apparent that the only way forward is to go to court, we can assist with the preparation of Court applications and can appear on your behalf.
Sometimes, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger and brighter picture. Still, by putting the children at the forefront of your mind and trying to do what’s best for them, negotiations can become less adversarial and more focus-driven and comforting.