A day in the life of a family lawyer

6:00 am – the alarm rings. Today is going to be a crazy day. If I sneak downstairs quietly I can have a coffee before everyone else wakes up.

6:15 am – I’m in the kitchen when I hear the pitter-patter of little feet. The children have found me! My peaceful coffee is finished and I am prepared for the morning. The next hour and a half will resemble something out of a Benny Hill re-run as I try to herd my children out of the door.

7:45 am – the children are dropped off to school and I put my “lawyer” hat on. This morning I’m in court on an FDR. This is a big money case and my client really wants to reach an agreement and get on with her life. I like FDR hearings, they are a great way to achieve a settlement for people going through a difficult divorce and trying to sort out their finances. Even if they are very far apart in their proposals, the FDR Judge will give an indication to help guide them to a realistic position. It does sometimes involve a marathon session in court, but if a settlement is reached it is all worthwhile.

9:00 am – I arrive at the Central Family Court. I always try to be the first one there so that I can meet my client. Today my client is a victim of domestic violence and needs a little bit more support than usual. I consider it part of my job to protect her and I am there to make sure that she doesn’t run into her estranged husband on the way into court. All goes smoothly and we meet our barrister inside the court building.

11:00 am – There is one major issue keeping us from reaching an agreement. My client maintains that her estranged husband has dissipated over £2,000,000 in matrimonial assets since the date of separation. He says that the assets were all pre-marital wealth and so his “gifts” of them do not really matter.

12:30 pm – we are more than £100,000 apart and nobody wants to give in. Time for some creative problem-solving.

2:00 pm – the hearing is over. My client is very happy with the settlement we reached. After a terribly unhappy marriage, she will start a new chapter with the family home and with just over £1,500,000 in cash. She can now have a peaceful and comfortable life for herself and the children. She offers to cook our barrister and me a celebratory Italian meal to thank us! Can’t wait!

2:15 pm – having my lunch on the go today! No time to sit!

3:00 pm – I am back in the office and working on another case. I’m buried in financial disclosure. Another big money case and it is going to final hearing in a few weeks. There are papers everywhere and half of them in Russian! My client wants me to take a hard-line approach and I agree that in this case, we must aggressively pursue her interests. I have a conference with counsel in a few days to discuss strategy and a detailed analysis of the husband’s business dealings is required. I need another coffee.

3:15 pm – my mother calls from America. How does she know that I’m right in the middle of something? 6,000 miles away and she always knows. Well, a short chat can’t hurt …

3:30 pm – my mother is happy and I’m back to my papers. Honestly, I think I need a bigger desk to accommodate all of them! I’ve just spotted an inconsistency in one of the Russian documents and I need to speak to my client, it’s a good thing I speak Russian otherwise I wouldn’t have caught it!

4:00 pm – One of my other clients calls, very upset. The father of her children has again refused to bring the children home from contact. This is the third time! I will need to take some time out of my finance case to write a very stern and urgent email in this matter, this kind of thing is completely unacceptable. If the parents cannot work together I have a feeling we will be back in court on this one in the near future.

4:30 pm – the day is almost over but my “to-do” list keeps getting longer!

5:15 pm – my stern email did the trick, my client’s children are home and safe.

5:30 pm – I have a new enquiry from a father who has not seen his son for over two months. He has tried everything to communicate nicely with his son’s mother, but she is not cooperating at all. He misses his son very much and wants my advice as to his options. Disputes over children are heart-breaking sometimes, but in most cases, a little creative thinking can solve the problem and help clients come up with a parenting plan that they may not have thought of themselves. My new client is happy that he is one step closer to seeing his son, and I’m happy that I can help him. I’m a parent too, I can emphasise.

6:00 pm – just a few things to wrap up in the finance case and then its home time. The kids will be glad to see me and I can’t wait to see them. No more being a lawyer for the day, time for me to put my other hat on.

Contact Julie

If you would like more information or advice relating to this article or a Family Law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Julie Cohen by emailing julie.cohen@salaw.com or calling 01727 798067.

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