Family Finance Forum – March 2019
What a night! On 7 March 2019 we held our first Family Finance Forum of 2019 – and it was a hit! The aim of this series is to bring professionals into family law and generate an understanding of the process of divorce from different aspects whether financial, emotional or psychological.
The theme for this forum was the emotional and psychological impact a divorce or separation can have on clients, colleagues and employees and how we can help overcome those difficulties.
Our case study focussed on Ant McPartlin and Lisa Armstrong, and the ‘third wheel’ in all of this, Declan Donnelly. We considered how Ant’s addiction and subsequent affair were factors in causing the breakdown of the marriage, and what impact that has had on not only Ant and Lisa, but on their friends, family, work colleagues, PR teams, the public and not forgetting their chocolate Labrador, Hurley.
The forum was chaired by Jennifer Curtis, one of the partners in our team; and we were joined by a wonderful panel of experts who put forward their views on different support networks that are available to help separating couples like Ant and Lisa. They are:
Maura McKibbin – Mediator
Maura looked at things from a mediation perspective. She discussed the differences between different personalities and how this affects us when we are decision making, and how one party is always further down the line in terms of accepting the separation and the other.
Maura considered the best time to suggest mediation to clients, and highlighted the importance of remembering that you can potentially ‘pause’ court proceedings to mediate if you both agree. Maura described mediation as “a process that is intended to help people plan their separated future” and reminded all of us that no advisor will know your ex-partner as well as you do.
Lindsay George – Counsellor and Psychotherapist
Lindsay reminded us that we not only assist people through difficult times at work. Many of us will have friends, relatives, neighbours who are going through a separation or divorce and it is crucial to remember when to step in, and when to pass the baton.
Lindsay was clear in that friends are friends, and not counsellors. It is so easy to offer to ‘bring a bottle of wine round and have a natter’ – but are you doing more harm than good? If you have serious concerns about how your friend is acting, if their drinking habits have rocketed or they look as though they haven’t slept in months, you may need to consider signposting them to professional advice.
Lindsay acknowledged that all professionals involved in a separation will, to some extent, counsel their clients and try to help them in all sorts of different ways. But it is important to remember that when their lawyer is asking for financial disclosure, their financial advisor is pestering them about the joint trust fund, the mediator scheduling the next appointment and their ex-partner is pressuring them to sign their life away, there’s a very vulnerable person in the middle of all of this. Can that person cope?
Charlotte Dean – P3 People Management
Charlotte discussed how you can help people in the work place. She stressed the importance of acknowledging a change in someone’s behaviour and supporting that person as best you can, whilst maintaining a commercial focus.
As a manager, it is your role to get the best out of your staff and if that means being amenable when they have a court hearing listed at short notice, or allowing them to leave work a little early to go to a solicitor’s appointment, if that helps that person perform their duties properly – why not let them? That being said, you must be commercially aware and balance the needs of your employee with the needs of your business.
There are numerous schemes available throughout workplaces such as designated Mental Health First Aiders, personnel or even just specific employees who act as a ‘go to’ between your concerns and your managers.
Charlotte engaged in discussions after the presentation about the need for on-going training surrounding mental health for all staff as it should not be one person’s responsibility to spot the warning signs about someone who is struggling with a separation, or other issues generally.
Jennifer Curtis – Family Law Solicitor
We absolutely loved hearing our guest speakers give their professional view on things, alongside our resident family lawyer – Jennifer Curtis.
In taking us through the case study, Jennifer discussed the impact of numerous circumstances such as addiction and adultery on the overall outcome of a separation, and how that can ultimately affect the financial matters and arrangements for the children.
Jennifer discussed the importance of acknowledging when a client needs other services to assist them in achieving a ‘full package’ of advice when going through a divorce or separation. This could include advice from independent financial advisors, forensic accountants, tax specialists, barristers, and wealth managers.
The purpose of the forum is to introduce like-minded individuals who can build connections and cross-refer to one another when assisting clients through a divorce or separation. We thoroughly enjoyed watching the attendees open up discussions and swap business cards. Before and after the presentation, there was a great opportunity to network, catch up and eat lots of mouth-watering canapés! Thank you to Gusto, Alderley Edge for hosting a fabulous evening.
If anyone is interested in coming to the next event (currently pencilled in for June 2019) – please contact Alexandra Wainwright at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jennifer Curtis on email@example.com .