I had used a large firm of lawyers for different business purposes for many years and always been satisfied and felt I had received value for what I paid. When my wife told me she wished us to separate I went and sought advice and was referred to the firm’s family lawyer who was young, female and junior in the firm. I did not feel she understood the grief I felt about the loss of my relationship and especially my concept of family (pretty nuclear). Two weeks later my wife left the home and on that day I found there was a new relationship she was developing (who knows what stage it was at) with a workmate.
I was devastated and again returned to the law firm who made an application for parenting on my behalf and I spent 4 hours telling my story to the young lawyer. She prepared the application and affidavit and I found it inaccurate in some areas, superficial and antagonistic. The partner who I was a client of assisted and we redirected the document a bit but it just served to create war between us. My wife lawyer-ed up, the children became pawns in the war developing.
The young lawyer was a terrible counsellor, I spent $5,000 in the first 2 weeks with the firm. I stayed with that firm for about 3 months while matters just got more complicated and horrible and the children were stuck in the middle. I would have gone mad without the counsellor I engaged to help me and my family and friends. I spent over $22,000 with that firm in that time and got nowhere. Indeed I felt I went considerably backwards. Better advice would have been to go overseas (with or without the children) on a holiday and let time allow some healing.
I changed law firm and used a partner there who family law was part of his normal work. He was slightly older than me. I felt more heard, he helped me stop digging holes for myself. He understood my passion to be a father to my children. It was a good change. He encouraged me to read and study some decisions, he loaned me some law books. Eventually he let me draft documents and send them to him rather than him doing it all. He empowered me to feel more empowered. Thank you [lawyer’s name].
[Lawyer’s name] is now a judge and I have confidence he can understand those who come before him. The first young woman I am sure will be a better lawyer now she has children of her own and more life experience. I regret I stayed with that firm for so long and that they were unable to direct me more positively.