Published: 08 February 2017
Author: Stringer Clark
If cupid checks out this Valentine's Day
Did you know the origins of Valentine's Day date back to the fifth century? It was originally named for a Christian martyr and a fertility celebration commemorated annually during the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia.
While Valentine’s Day is marketed as a day of romance, celebration and joy for many couples around the Western world, it may also bring up a lot of pain and heartache to the surface for couples who for a myriad reasons may have fallen out of love.
Despite the Valentine’s Day commercial hype, the reality according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics is that in 2015, there were 48,517 divorces granted in Australia, an increase of 2,019 (4.3%) from the 46,498 divorces granted in 2014.
So, how do you go about creating a peaceful divorce?
Our advice is always try to divorce on amicable terms first and while there is no guarantee it will work, if you can resolve things via conversation and mediation then you are much better off in the short and long term.
If you can speak with your partner and agree on arrangements, this is always the best way to manage a divorce, but it’s often not the case.
Like a fingerprint, no two divorces are the same and every divorce will differ to varying degrees.
The best advice regarding divorce is to be prepared
Many who have experienced divorce will share that it is a stressful, unwelcome and difficult period in their lives and there is much relief when matters are settled.
Clients often seek legal counsel before taking action and if you or a friend is considering divorce, four helpful tips follow.
- Get legal advice. We offer a one-hour free initial consultation. Some clients, typically women, have no access to assets and in most cases Stringer Clark can defer our fees until the case is finished.
- If children are involved, are they safe? In some cases, we will apply for an intervention order, encourage a client to report domestic violence to the police and/ or encourage the client to move to a safe house. These are delicate matters, particularly as sometimes an intervention order can invoke increased violence. However, police need the background of an intervention order to encourage safety.
- Preserve assets. We share with clients how they can protect their assets and this may mean bank accounts are frozen or funds are seized and saved. In some cases, it pays to double check there is a caveat on the house and that it cannot be sold or mortgaged without a joint signature.
- Get your mind right. Seek support, help or counselling to ensure you are mentally strong enough to navigate a divorce and create a desirable future for yourself and your loved ones.
In the majority of cases, our role as lawyers is to create financial settlement and make arrangements and orders for the children so that all parties concerned can move forward with a new agreed order to their lives.
Does a pattern of domestic violence make divorce more difficult?
If there is violence involved, it’s wise to get a lawyer involved to navigate this complex space.
Legal counsel may involve:
- encouraging clients to report violence to the police;
- changing the locks to a private residence;
- keeping a new address private;
- linking to domestic violence support services;
- connecting with the local general practitioner for a mental health plan and referral to a psychologist to assist with planning; and/ or
- applying for a victim of crime claim if appropriate.
For example, Emma House Domestic Violence Services in Warrnambool provide support services for women and their children who are experiencing domestic/family violence. This includes critical access to court support, accommodation options, assistance into the private rental market, intensive case management, women and children's D.V supportive counselling. In extreme cases, some clients are best to start the legal process with organisations like Emma House and we will introduce them and provide support at a later date.
Does family law guarantee a happy ending?
As the famous Hollywood actress, Meryl Streep, recently said: “Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence and when the powerful use their position to bully others we all loose.”
At Stringer Clark we provide our experience and expertise to help families move from a place of distress or conflict to a place of harmony, whereby all parties can positively move forward in to the future.