Being a Family lawyer can be a difficult job. You sometimes have to get to grips with managing the expectations of your clients by making sure that they make decisions that are in their best interests, and advising that certain issues are just “not worth pursuing”. The central issue to this is normally cost. Sometimes, as a lawyer, we have to say it is not cost effective to pursue something that your client may want to “as a matter of principle”.
Somebody going through a divorce may be very emotive about a particular issue, but the “legal worth” of pursuing it does not make commercial sense for them. Navigating your client through such issues can be a minefield, as it’s paramount that you listen to your client and their concerns, but sometimes you have to steer them back to what is legally important in achieving the best outcome for them in legal proceedings.
Divorcing spouses regularly disagree on an array of issues, and it’s important that you do not fall into the trap of getting embroiled in “tit for tat” correspondence. Whilst your client may feel very strongly about answering every single point raised, quite often doing that, just makes the situation worse and the position of the parties can polarise even further.
It’s crucial that you listen to your clients and not dismiss their concerns, but it is paramount that you keep a clear cool head to avoid running up unnecessary costs and acrimonious exchanges. This is particularly relevant if the divorcing spouses have children, as they will have to find some level of communication in the future without the need of intermediaries.
Whilst a client may sometimes say “it’s not the money, it’s the principle”, those extra costs in answering those “tit for tat” points out of a matter of principle, could lead to much greater difficulties for them. So, ultimately, “they may win the battle, but lose the war”. My clients may not always appreciate my candid advice on such issues at the time, but I hope in the long run they realise I was acting in their best interests.
“Be aware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship”. (Benjamin Franklin).
For more information or to speak to a member of our Family Law Team call 0800 088 6004.