This is the most personal blog I have written but I thought it would be helpful to share my story…
The question I get asked most often is “why did you decide to stop working as a solicitor?” The main reason involves the lady sitting next to me in the photo opposite – my lovely mum.
The photo was taken in August 2016 at a celebratory lunch marking the 6 year anniversary of my divorce consultancy business.
It felt very apt to share this celebration with the person who provided me with the inspiration for my business which I feel so passionate about.
I was a family law solicitor when my parents got divorced
My parents got divorced when I was in my late twenties. At the time I was practising as a family law solicitor. I had always prided myself on being understanding and empathetic towards my clients. However, it wasn’t until my own parents got divorced that I started to fully appreciate what an individual going through divorce really faces.
Being a solicitor wasn’t enough
As a family law solicitor my role had been to provide legal advice and representation to my clients. Solicitors who choose to specialise in family law, tend to have caring personalities and a desire to help people. However, I recognised that as a solicitor, I was limited as to the level of overall assistance I could provide my clients when they were going through such a challenging time in their lives.
What help my mum needed
Seeing my mum struggle with the end of her marriage and her divorce experience was distressing as both a daughter and family law solicitor. I knew what she was facing with the legal process and the natural first step was for me to find an experienced solicitor to represent her which I did.
However, there was a great deal of additional help that she required before, during and beyond the legal process that would not have been naturally provided by the solicitor. There was so much more help that she needed and deserved to ensure her divorce experience was as manageable as possible and to put her in the best place to feel able to move on past the divorce.
The difficult issues that come up
People going through divorce face a complex range of issues. The significant ones (but this is by no means an exhaustive list) being:
- emotional challenges – processing the end of their marriage and life as they know it
- practical considerations – what physical changes will there be in their life – e.g. moving home
- financial factors to work through – possible changes to their lifestyle, budgeting
- children matters – changes to living arrangements and parenting plans
Where was the help?
It became evident to me, during my parents’ divorce, that there were no or little resources and/or professionals readily available who specialised in providing help in all these important areas. (Please note – this was 16yrs ago and I appreciate there is now much more help out there).
Whilst it was pretty straightforward for me to find my mum a family law solicitor, how could I ensure she received help with all the other equally important issues she faced? The easy answer was to provide this assistance myself. So that’s what I did!
It had its challenges of course; I was her daughter for one. My parents had been married for nearly 35 years and I only knew life with Mum and Dad being together. Like most people (despite the work I did), my initial thoughts were that this was the sort of thing that happened to other families…
What help I provided
My focus was on helping my lovely mum. She had always been there for me growing up and it was now my turn to look after her whilst she navigated through this challenging time in her life. Mum was very appreciative of my help and told me what a positive difference it has made to have that additional support and guidance over and above the legal representation from the solicitor:
“Rhiannon was a huge help in getting me through a difficult time. I very much appreciated the sympathetic manner coupled with a real understanding of the practicalities involved. As a result, I was in a far better position to understand and assimilate advice from my solicitor.” – Mum
Some of the additional help I was able to provide included:
- Helping her find a family law specialist solicitor
- Assisting with the preparation of her Financial Statement and collecting of financial documents
- Providing a sounding board for decision making regarding her financial settlement to help her make informed decisions
- Talking through the letters of advice from her solicitor to help her gather her thoughts and communicate clear instructions to her solicitor
- Practical help to put in place the terms of the financial order – viewing new properties etc.
- Post-divorce support to help Mum make plans to move forward with her life
- finding her a chartered financial planner to help with money management and budgeting
- And of course as a daughter – providing her with love and support and checking in on her regularly to see how she was and if she needed anything
Mum: I’m incredibly proud of how much my mum has accomplished in the last 16yrs ago and how she has been able to move forward with her life after such a difficult time. She is financially self-sufficient, has a lovely new home, has built up a great network of friends (she already had great friends and a supportive family before the divorce, who had also been a huge help).
Me: It became clear to me the value this type of additional support could provide for other people going through divorce and separation. I began to create my business plans for what became my divorce consultancy service. I decided I wanted to provide more than support during the legal process and so trained as a personal development coach (this provides me with essential additional skills to help support people on a personal level). I now use both my legal experience and coaching skills to provide support and guidance to people at all the different stages of divorce and separation.
Over the last 9yrs, I have greatly developed the services I now provide to my clients to address all the different issues that may arise during their divorce journeys. I intend to continue to work on finding new ways in which I can help make a positive difference to someone’s divorce journey and recovery.
Could I help you or someone you know?
Divorce and separation is a difficult time in anyone’s life(and that of their families). It can be difficult to know who to turn to for help. The solicitor is there to provide legal advice and representation but there will be many other aspects to your experience for which you may need help and support. The Benefits of Divorce Coaching can help you before, during and after your divorce journey. You may find it helpful to read what clients have said about working with me. Perhaps you could relate to some of these frequently heard statements?
If you have found the tips in this blog useful then you’ll find lots more in my eBooks, which you can purchase and download today.