There have been two cases in the media recently where family matters, with separated parents and custody issues of the children, have ended tragically. After the case of the missing father and his four year old daughter in Northern NSW, we have seen a similar story unfold in Melbourne last week with the death of an 11 year old boy and his father. Unfortunately, matters whereby people harm themselves or others as a consequence of marital breakdown are far too prevalent.
As family lawyers, whilst we are able to identify potential warning signs, we are simply not trained to assist clients in dealing with those feelings. We know, through experience, that the family law process can cause stress, financial hardship and feelings of loss and uncertainty. For parents, the prospect of spending less time with your children, or the fear of them relocating interstate or overseas, is difficult to process and adapt to.
For that reason, two things are imperative. Firstly, knowledge of what the process will be, and the potential risks and problems, must be obtained. Often times it is the uncertainty that causes the most concern. It is possible for people to worry about things that are unlikely to come to fruition or conversely, be unaware of potential outcomes. By obtaining professional advice at the outset, you will be better informed about the likely outcomes and that will assist in reducing the stress of your situation.
Secondly, and more importantly, if you begin to feel overwhelmed, depressed, angry or as if the whole situation is hopeless, you must seek professional assistance. It is very difficult to obtain a perspective of your situation whilst you are in the midst of it, and to have objectivity in relation to what you are going through. There are many professionals that work in the family law area that are well equipped to assist you in obtaining the appropriate help. Counsellors, financial advisors and single parent support groups can all provide support on how to deal with the enormous pressure that you are under.
Family breakdowns are never easy and it is very hard to grasp the changes in your life, particularly where children are involved. By obtaining the correct assistance and advice you will put yourself in a better position to understand and accept these changes. The most important thing for everyone involved is to always put the best interests of the children first.