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The Law and You: Acting rationally with high emotions

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Acting rationally. When you’re going through a highly emotionally charged separation from your spouse or partner, it’s easier said than done to stay cool.

This column shares four tips to help get you through the initial painful period of separation, and even through negotiations and/or matters in Court. They can help you reach an amicable and faster resolution so you can get on with your life.

Get experts involved from the beginning.

This includes lawyers that are experts in family law. Often the expert will also have a good black book of other experts in relevant fields to draw upon when troubleshooting issues on your behalf.

Pause and reflect before you hit the send button with email and text messages.

These can be used in Court. Ask what impression the email or text message gives of you. Would you be troubled to see your message reproduced in court documents? Don’t use capital letters, which can mean you’re shouting (not helpful in rational conversation). The same can be said of exclamation marks.

Be careful when posting or commenting on social media.

This includes Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat or Instagram. These can be used in Court. Ask if a post, photo or comment from any social media channel would leave you red-faced in Court. Ask how it could be interpreted by your former partner, your lawyer or a Judge. Remember that privacy settings don’t always protect your posts being viewed.

Apologise when you are in the wrong.

We’re all human and sometimes emotions get the better of us when dealing with sensitive issues such as children and finances. If you make a mistake, or say something you regret, own up to it as soon as possible and apologise.

couple sitting and thinking feature

How will these tips help?

Applying these tips can help you better manage situations and prevent your family law matter from turning into a drawn out and more expensive process than it has to be (depending on the circumstances of course).

When do these tips apply?

These tips apply across many family law issues, including children’s matters (such as best care arrangements and children’s rights) and financial matters (such as dividing assets, debts or superannuation). They can also help to ensure you property settlement is fair.

What if I can’t reason with someone?

Of course it’s not always possible to reason with someone, no matter how hard you want to.

There are many reasons for this, including abuse or family violence in the relationship—either between you and your former partner, or you and a family member or new partner, or your former partner and your child. Another reason that could prevent you from reasoning with someone is if one or both parties suffer mental illness (whether diagnosed or not), have a drug and/or alcohol dependency or an addiction.

Any of these factors can have a negative impact on the dynamic, causing rational discussions to be difficult or creating a situation that requires urgent action.

What should I do when I’ve tried my best and can’t reason?

You should consult an experienced lawyer that specialises in family law matters. They’ll be able to guide you and help you get on with your life. They understand the framework the Courts use to determine:

  • parenting and financial matters
  • if there is agreement on the way forward
  • if there is a contest requiring judicial determination.

Remember, the Court doesn’t simply “rubber stamp” agreements. They apply the principles of the Family Law Act and case law to determine the best outcome.

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