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Gripping new legal drama series The Split hits the screens on Tuesday 24th April at 9pm on BBC1, telling the story of a tight-knit family of female divorce lawyers – and what happens when one of their rising-stars leaves the firm.

 

But how does it compare with the reality of working in the family department of a modern law firm?

 

Our Rob Parker, experienced family solicitor at Lamb Brooks, gives a run-down of a typical day-in-life of a lawyer working in this fast-paced and emotionally-charged area:

  • 8.15am, I arrive early to fire-fight some emails in overnight. Amongst them, one particularly anxious message is from a stressed wife who needs to pay the next mortgage payment by the end of the week, but is still waiting on maintenance from her husband. I make an urgent phone call to the husband’s solicitor asking that they impress upon him the seriousness of the situation; otherwise an emergency court application will have to be lodged. Another client was supposed to see his children at the weekend, but the mother was two hours late dropping them for no clear reason. I dictate an urgent letter reminding her of the terms of the court order and the risk that we’ll return matters to court for enforcement. I then get to an email from a client who is in mediation with his wife who needs some help sorting out the fine detail of his financial settlement. I give him my second opinion and offer my support in helping to resolve this swiftly.
 
  • 9.30am, I’m straight into my first meeting of the day – a tearful woman who has recently learned of her civil partner’s affair. They’ve tried relationship counselling but they now both just want to move on. In spite of their difficulties, communication is still good between them and I recommend using a method called ‘collaborative practice’ to sort things out. This involves meeting face-to-face with the lawyers on hand to iron out the practicalities of the paperwork and financial settlement. Clients and lawyers alike are finding this to be a more dignified and increasingly popular way of working, ensuring the separating couple retain control over the process and the outcome. I make contact with the solicitor acting for the other party and we schedule a first four-way meeting to get the ball rolling.
 
  • 11am, I meet with a successful, wealthy businessman who was widowed. He is about to remarry and wants to put in place an agreement to protect his wealth should things go wrong, just so that his children from his first marriage do not lose out on their inheritance. I recommend a straight forward prenuptial agreement and take some details. Happily, being a family lawyer isn’t just about the doom and gloom of ending relationships – it is also increasingly about joining and making families, and this is an exciting, growing area of law to be advising on.
 
  • 2pm, after a quick bite to eat and a few more emails at my desk, it is off to court to represent a husband in a financial settlement hearing. His wife has been reluctant to put the house on the market for quite some time. After we look online for some alternative property particulars locally, we succeed in persuading the judge to recommend that the house be sold albeit with the sale proceeds weighted in the wife’s favour to enable her and their son to get somewhere new of a good standard. After drafting the agreement at court and getting it sealed by the judge, both parties are relieved to have the matter finalised so that they can move on and avoid the stress of a full-blown trial.
 
  • 4.30pm, back in the office, after dictating my attendance note from this afternoon’s hearing and a debriefing letter to my client, I catch up on some emails and read up on the case notes for a wife who is coming to see me first thing in the morning. She has been the victim of some pushing and shoving and nasty threats from her husband in front of the children, and it is looking likely that I will have to walk down to court with her straight away in the morning to seek an emergency injunction.
 

Rob comments, ‘In the fast-paced field of family law, the reality is that no two days are ever the same. And although it can be a stressful time for my clients, the job satisfaction comes from really getting to know their circumstances and the issues they face, and helping to make a real difference to their lives.’

 

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.