Disclosure of documents subject to implied undertakings
Last night we saw the first of a six part series which focuses on the world of divorce.
It is a drama; they use dramatic license to make the show interesting and appealing to the public and to fit into six parts. The show is the first of its kind in this country and it is exciting to see our profession featured in a high profile drama, which will provide a platform for family law issues to be discussed. I hope The Split will also give us the opportunity to share our advice, thoughts and experiences from inside the profession.
Episode one features Davey and Goldie Mackenzie; a wealthy couple who, unbeknown to Goldie, are going to get divorced. When we initially thought that Hannah Defoe was instructed by Mr Mackenzie, she gives Goldie advice about the kind of lawyer she should find to represent her. She suggests that she find someone who will give her the divorce they would want if they were to ever find themselves in that situation. Although I hope that no one finds themselves in the situation Goldie did, I agree that it is important to find a lawyer that suits you. Facing a separation, whether it is your decision or not, is a difficult time and your relationship with your lawyer is a very personal one. You need to be able to trust and communicate with them in order to get the best out of one another. My colleagues Cady and Michael have recently written blogs in which they provide advice and practical tips about the working with lawyers and preparing your best case:
You may have noticed at the beginning of the show that the Senior Partner at Noble and Hale referred to Hannah as ‘a lawyer who likes to settle’. He goes on to say that litigation makes money and so she must litigate. Fortunately, that is not a sentiment that most family lawyers share. We all want what is best for our clients and our job is to work with them to understand what they need and to achieve this as quickly and amicably as possible. There are certainly occasions when you need to go to court but this is not usually a client’s or a lawyer’s primary aim.
Finally, we are also introduced to Rex and Sarah Pope who are at a round table meeting to discuss both the content of Rex’s stand up comedy show ‘My Ex Wife’s a Bitch’ and the arrangements for their son. I was told by the producers that phrases such as ‘child access’, which no longer form part of our vocabulary as family lawyers, were needed here so that the wider public understood what the dispute was about.
Although the terminology and specific scenario is unlikely to occur in our offices, the storyline shows just how emotional the process can be. As family lawyers, it is our job to help navigate those emotions while providing advice based on our knowledge of the law and the court system. Our law states that, when making decisions about a child’s upbringing, their welfare is the paramount consideration. It also says that there is a presumption (unless the contrary is shown) that the involvement of both parents in a child’s life is likely to further that child’s welfare. Hannah Defoe articulates this slightly differently, and in the context of her particular case, by saying that it is almost always better for a child to see their dad.
I look forward to the next episode of The Split, on 1 May at 9pm.
If you would like to speak to Connie Atkinson or any other member of our family team about any of the issues raised in this blog or through storylines featured in The Split, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
You may also be interested in reading our previous blogs with our reflections on the first series of The Split.
Connie Atkinson, a Senior Associate in our family and divorce team, has been one of the legal advisers on the script of The Split, seasons 1 and 2.
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