The devil’s in the detail

The law is constantly evolving.  Especially family law.  Not a week goes by that we do not read a decision in which the Court has interpreted existing law in a ‘new’ way, or applied an existing concept to fresh situations.  That is because family breakdowns themselves are so unique, and wide-ranging.

As lawyers, we must keep up with that evolution.  As professionals we do that in a variety of ways. For me, reading blogs is a good way of keeping in touch with the content of the law, and crucially, the thoughts and experiences of the lawyers who work in this field locally, nationally and internationally.

In one such blog, a lawyer recounted (anonymously) the conduct of one of his client’s spouses.  That lawyer described their amazement at the steps which had been taken by their client’s former spouse in trying to achieve a particular objective.The insight into the tale of the extreme actions alleged to have been undertaken by the former spouse, was compelling.

By a curious twist of fate, I came to be consulted by that former spouse, only weeks after reading the blog. That person explained the same situation, their actions, and the reason for them. It could not have been more different to the manner in which that person’s spouse had described the events in question to their lawyer.

For me, it was a timely reminder that in many cases, as in life, there are two ‘sides’ to the same story. It struck me that this is why family lawyers (and indeed, lawyers in any field) have a role.  We ensure that both sides of the story are presented in full.

It is often impossible to determine who is ‘right’, and who is ‘wrong’ in those situations.  Independent evidence often wins the day. Conflicting versions of events will not always be directly relevant in family law cases.  But there will be times when it is.

Be prepared, therefore, to give your family lawyer clear and detailed instructions (facts such as dates, times and places).  Isolate whether there is any independent evidence which would corroborate your version of events (a third party witness, a video recording, a document), and ensure that your lawyer knows about it.

The devil can be in the detail, so ensure that your lawyer is armed with all the detail.

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