Most family law matters come with heightened emotions and stress. It, however, does not always have to be that way. Staying focused and rational is important to get the best results.
Many legal practitioners will tell you, the one aspect of family law, that differentiates it from other branches of law, is the emotions that it brings to their clients. It would often happen that a client breaks down, or sheds a tear in your office. This is understandable, as family law issues have a lot of history behind it. Even simple family law legal matters, for example, the terms of an antenuptial contract, can stir emotion. The lawyer under such cases has to act as a mediator, pacifier and legal advisor at the same time.
Types of family law matters that cause heightened emotions and anxiety
Before we delve into this topic, let us first bring things into perspective. These are some of the family law matters we are referring to:
- Divorces (Contested or Undefended);
- Domestic Violence matters;
- Child maintenance disputes; and
- Child custody disputes.
The actual list is more extensive. You may even want to consider including last wills and testaments and winding up of deceased estates. As can be seen from the types of matters mentioned, there are always children involved or personal relationships. Some of these relationships have lasted for decades. We often see people who were married for more than 30 years, getting divorced. And in other cases, the relationship, albeit personal, could have been for a very short while, but still, elicit a lot of emotions. For example, a domestic violence family legal matter.
The personal nature of family matters makes it harder to deal with
One of the challenges for a legal practitioner is to try to convince the client that he or she should trust the law, and not focus too much on the other party. For example, in a divorce matter, where a spouse has been abused or constantly been bullied during the relationship. The abused spouse would very often agree to sign away everything just to get divorced speedily. This is not only unfair but could lead to many issues in the future. This situation must be avoided at all costs.
Intimidation in abusive relationships
Then we have the challenge in a domestic violence matter. A party who has been abused would agree on withdrawing an application for a protection order, even though it is dangerous to do so. Or there is the situation where a party would agree that a protection order is issued against them due to being intimidated either by the other party or by his or her lawyer. This they do not do because of having committed domestic violence, but just to get the matter over and done with. The consequence of that is the applying party would have an interdict and a warrant of arrest against you which may be abused.
Intimidation in child maintenance or alimony cases
We cannot count the number of times we have been told that the reason why a parent does not want to approach the maintenance court, is due to being told by the other parent that he or she will get much less than what they are currently receiving. This is emotional and psychological abuse and not in the child’s best interest. One reason for believing the abuser is due to the relationship the parties had. The abuser was controlling and abusive during the relationship, and the victim has been brainwashed into believing everything the abuser said.
What people must try to understand in family legal matters?
Although it is understandable for someone to be anxious when dealing with family law related matters, it is important to note that issues need to be dealt with properly. If your spouse was abusive during your relationship, that does not mean it has to continue after your relationship ended. There are laws in place to protect people from abuse and violence. For example, the Domestic Violence Act. If you make use of the law, you would have a better chance of getting the legal results you want. Go to the police if necessary.
Final words to people who are intimidated by, or is afraid of the other party
Although it is easier said than done, we implore people not to allow themselves to be bullied when it comes to family law matters. This includes being intimidated by the other party, or his or her lawyer. If you have rights; enforce them. Believe in yourself and your cause and others will learn to respect it. Many cases are won by unrepresented litigants who were up against a team of lawyers. Moreover, no one has the right to belittle you or deny you of your rights. Take a stand and fight for what is right.
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