How empathy will assist you in a family law settlement
Image: Priscilla du Preez | UnsplashThere is no doubt that separation is often painful and traumatic. Often empathy is an essential ingredient to get you through the turmoil. This might include a simple acknowledgement of the pain that you are going through. Someone who shows real interest in what the person is saying, being encouraging and supportive.
by Kirsty Salvestro
The term empathy is often used to describe the ability to sense another person’s emotions, together with the ability to imagine what someone else is thinking or feeling. People who show empathy create a safe space for people to express their feelings, which allows them a greater understanding and to build and strengthen their relationships.
Being empathetic does not mean that you are giving up or giving in. In fact, it allows a greater understanding, which, in a family law setting, can open many doors, and help you see and create more options so that you can move forward and find peace.
There are several ways that empathy can really assist you through your family law settlement:
1. Receiving empathy from your family and friendsOften the first point of contact, after you separate, is to talk to your loved ones. What you do not need at this stage is someone who will tell you their story, be enraged with you and encourage you to go for the throat. The best option is to have someone on your team who really understands, who will just listen and support you, and guide you to stay calm and practical. You do not need extra heightened emotions at this point, no matter how much they love you.
2. Empathy from your lawyerThere are so many emotions tied up with the process: you may be stressed, confused, and often overwhelmed. This creates confusion and uncertainty. If you can find a lawyer that displays empathy, one who can see and appreciate what you need right now, your entire separation process will be impacted. Each situation is different, and your lawyer needs to be able to be aware and adapt the advice, guidance and support they give you to work into your very specific needs. Note that knowing how to detect empathy – in a lawyer or anyone else – can be a complex process, so try to do your best to discern this carefully. For example, does the person you’re talking to listen attentively, or cut you off, already poised with an ‘answer’ to your situation, before fully hearing you out?
3. The hardest of all – empathy towards each otherThe more you give the more you get here! Yes it may be that you have just separated and there is a lot of pain and hurt going around, but I can promise you, if you can just take the time to stay calm, listen and even try to put yourself in your ex-spouse’s shoes, you will see things much more clearly and you will also often gain a better understanding so that you can work together to reach solutions.
If you can find empathy in these areas, you are likely to see the following impacts on your situation:

1. You will reduce the stress and heartache and avoid the emotional roller coaster that a contested divorce will cause.

2. You will be able to create more options and be able to reach an amicable solution quickly.

3. You will save time and money on legal fees as you will be able to focus on practical decisions rather than emotional ones.

4. You will have a better relationship moving forward with your ex, and this will not only benefit your children, but this will benefit you.
About the author:
Kirsty Salvestro is a family lawyer, mediator, and divorce guide, and the author of the book What are we fighting for? A peaceful pathway for separating couples. She feels that moving away from litigious based solutions towards more client-led methods can save time, save money, and perhaps even help people build a new relationship post-separation.

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