Why the Personal and Emotional Repercussions of Divorce Should Never be Taken Lightly

Vanessa Fox
Partner and Head of
Family Law
hlw Keeble Hawson

A recent article and new TV series focussed on Britain’s top female lawyers dealing with the lives of the superrich.

Perhaps too much was said about such lawyers’ astronomical hourly charges and killer heels, but this made me think about the real life personal and emotional cost of divorce.

The article made some assumptions that divorce is sometimes taken lightly and that couples these lawyers represented dispose of their relationships like changing their phone.

No one divorces lightly – not even millionaires or billionaires. The trauma of relationship breakdown is always massive.

I have never yet represented a relatively poor or wealthy client who did not bitterly regret the breakdown of their relationship – even if they hid it well.

Among the many things I dispute in the article is the claim that men regret divorce more than women. In my extensive experience, men often seem to me to be more upset and the long- term effect can be greater.

I don’t agree that it is always a mistake to sign a post nuptial agreement. This is often a good way of keeping the relationship going. Expert legal advice on the agreement, however, is crucial.

On the issue of power dressing in court, it does not matter what you wear, or what handbag you take to court – though it is probably sensible to leave Chanel or Mulberry bags at home and take a cheaper handbag.

However, I did once take a photo of a husband’s Bentley (with personalised plate) outside court and showed it to the Judge when the husband claimed he was living in poverty!

On the plus side, I agree that an hour with a lawyer to discuss what you might be giving up is crucial – and that it is expensive to use a lawyer as a therapist. I always advocate a holistic approach and advise all my clients that support from a counsellor is crucial.

I also agree that children should not be used as pawns. In reality, clients try to avoid this anyway.

I also agree that focus on what is important and on the deal itself is helpful – but it is the lawyer’s job to help their client focus and explain what is important and what can be let go.

The most important thing to hang onto is that separation and divorce is tragic and painful, but it will pass and you will move on to something else – a better life perhaps – with help from lawyers, financial advisors and counsellors.

It is the combined expert advice and support from a group that will help you – and not just your lawyer.

Click here for more articles by Vanessa Fox

About Vanessa

hlw Keeble Hawson partner, Vanessa Fox, has been head of the firm’s family law department since 1991.

The latest edition of the Legal 500 Guide praises Vanessa for her ‘broad knowledge of finance and childcare, and for her passion for collaboration; she is efficient, caring and robust’.

Collaboratively trained and a qualified mediator, Vanessa is a former chair of South Yorkshire Resolution and a member of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel and the Children Panel.

She can be contacted on 0114 290 6232 or at vanessafox@hlwkeeblehawson.co.uk.

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