Once you have separated you will be inundated with well meaning advice from people who have ‘gone through it’. This means they want to burden you with their experience.
As a lawyer you hear it time and time again ‘my mates been through it and he told me she got the lot,’ or ‘my mates just been to court and spend a hundred grand and got nothing,’ or ‘someone told me the Judge gave him half the school holidays.’
The stories are offered as well meaning signposts to you, so you do not even think about:
- Taking a particular position with respect to your children/property dispute.
- Going to court. Or
- Participating in mediation because it is bound to fail.
Not to take anything away from what your well-meaning friends/acquaintances/work colleagues/family tell you, it pays to remember that this is what happened in their separation and their family law case.
Does this mean it will happen in yours?
First, not two cases are alike. Each case has different facts, different figures, different parties, different lawyers and so on (you get the picture).
No two cases ever follow the same pathway. The facts might be similar, but this does not mean they move along the same way.
Then, if your matter is at court, no two judges are alike. Each judge comes to a case with his or her own unique approach (and no day is the same). It is not unknown for the same judge to make a different decision on cases that on the face of it might seem similar.
Mother A moves about 5 hours away from her usual place of residence with the children. Father makes urgent interim application for the children to come back. Judge does not bring the mother back.
Two weeks later there is a case with similar facts in front of the same judge. Mother B moves with children about 5 hours away from the father. Children still see their father every second weekend. Bearing in mind the judge’s decision two weeks earlier there is a good chance the mother will get to stay. Not so. Judge makes the opposite order and mother has to come back with the children.
There is no such thing as knowing what is going to happen when couples separate or what orders a court might make or what the final outcome will be.
We can look to the past and other cases to obtain an understanding of what might happen. But you should never believe just because someone tells you of what happened in his or her case, that this is going to happen in yours.
Make decisions that are right for you. Instead of listening to well meaning people close to you get some sound legal advice. Think about the legal advice. If you are still not sure get a second opinion. Then make up your mind of what you are going to do. You should also get some counseling to help you deal with the separation.
There is nothing wrong with going against what your lawyer advises, as long as you are making a decision in your interest. At the end of the day a lawyer can only give you legal advice. You still have to lead your life once the dispute between you and your ex is over.
Remember and informed decision is a good decision. Never make a decision if you are under pressure or are asked to do it in a hurry.
And get legal advice for your particular situation.