All is not fair in love and divorce.
This morning while trying to drag myself from bed with my almost two year old jumping on my head I managed to hear a headline on TV-
“A law firm with a difference- they only represent men. It is the only way that men can get a fair shake when it comes to divorce.”
This of course grabbed my attention as I always like to hear about law firms that have a point of difference but this one has me intrigued. Apparently this family law firm based in Florida, USA only represent men. The short segment that proceeded showed the female only family lawyers explaining their reasons for acting just for men- no women allowed apparently! A link to the segment is below just in case you missed it! http://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunrise/video/watch/21888411/no-women-thanks/
This really has me thinking- I am struggling to understand the connection that is supposedly being made here- that by acting for only men you are somehow better able to provide a good service and outcome for ‘men’ in the family law system.
I understand better than anyone the importance of identifying your niche in a market place and for this firm their niche seemingly is to exclude clients on the basis of gender. An intriguing branding and marketing exercise that I am grappling with in my mind. It is a marketing/ niche strategy that we have seen many other industries successfully pursue- let’s take the health and fitness industry. Here in Australia there are no shortage of female only gyms or health programs that have existed for some time now so I take from their success over time that there is a market place for the ‘female only’ or even ‘male only’ club as such.
I would never have thought to extend this to the practice of law.
I operate a successful family law firm that acts for all types of people- for adults who are experiencing separation and divorce- whether they are men or women makes no difference. Whether you are male or female, the family law and its application is the same. There is no advantage in being female or disadvantage in being male when it comes to the application of the Family Law Act in Australia.
A lawyer in the clip I watched this morning went on to talk about the ‘unfairness’ of the situation for many fathers- “To them if they have every other weekend [with their children] that’s hurtful. Why should somebody say you only see your child every other weekend but Mum gets to have them the rest of the time?”
I would suggest that to any parent the suggestion that they can only spend each alternate a mother. I have seen just as many Father’s have their children living primarily with them as I have seen Mother’s. I have also seen grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and friends all taking on the responsibility of children- it makes no difference whether they are male or female there is a far more complicated series of considerations when it comes to determining what might be the best parenting arrangements for children.
The process of divorce is hurtful for all involved- men and women. I often hear clients telling me that the law, when applied to their circumstances is ‘unfair’- of course it may be but we at least have a well developed series of principles that can be applied to assist separating families resolve their legal differences and move forward.
I enjoy working with all types of clients both men and women alike. I have never approached a family law matter from a perspective of considering whether my client is ‘male’ and therefore a certain outcome is likely. The law just does not work that way. If we are considering arrangements for children, we are looking at a whole range of considerations none of which include whether a parent is a ‘male or female’. Similarly, if we are looking to divide the assets and income of a marriage at no stage is there a consideration of the gender of the parties involved.
This weekend we are celebrating International Women’s Day- a reminder that gender divides can exist at so many differing levels of society, however I am quite certain that I would not be a talented family lawyer if I acted only for women or only for men.
So this concept of the ‘male only law firm’ as being – “the only way that men can get a fair shake when it comes to divorce”- I wholeheartedly disagree. I expect that all men and women who find themselves dealing with the family law system at times experience the sense that it is ‘unfair’. Divorce itself is ‘unfair’.
Whether the end of your relationship was your choice or has been imposed upon you it is often no harder or easier and will feel ‘unfair’.
Most people I meet with for the first time in my office when asked what they hope to achieve as a part of their divorce settlement will say something like “I just want what is fair”. Fair, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I expect that for most of us, all is not fair in love and divorce however it is up to us to make the most of what we can, to find the positives and to move forward. I expect that most men and women experiencing divorce want it to be over and for their lives to be back on track and for them to feel ‘OK’ again. I doubt that it makes much difference whether you are male or female.
The segment this morning finished with a helpful comment from the presenters- “Whether it’s men or women, the only ones who win out of the process are the lawyers”- Ah ha-so we are back to that old chestnut!