What Can I Do To Help? Supporting Somebody through their breakup (PART-2)

As we previously mentioned in Part 1 of this 2-part blog series, friends and family can be a great assistance to a person who is exiting their relationship. That person will be going through a life changing event and having someone to trust and lean on when their ‘usual’ world has just collapsed can really make a difference. Let’s see how can supporting somebody through their breakup can actually help them.

We’ve compiled a list of practical ways that you can assist a friend or family member who is going through separation.

  1. Can You be Heard?
  • When assisting your friend through this time, the children, no matter what their ages, should never be involved in any discussions, or in the hearing of any negative and denigrating conversations about either of their parents.
  • This will cause harm and further stress to the children. If the children are in the next room, they will hear the conversation. Ensure they are occupied with headphones if possible or send them outside in the garden to play, if practicable.
  • Harm will also be caused if the child repeats the conversation to the other parent. As unintentional and as out of context as the comment may be to the other parent by the child, the result could have catastrophic consequences for the children and your friend.
  1. Lend a shoulder
  • As well as your sympathy and caring, being able to provide information, can be very valuable. Do a bit of research and help point them in the direction of expert and qualified advice, like relationship counselling, domestic violence services, financial advisors, psychologists or a family lawyer who is able to provide 15 minutes of free legal Family Law advice.
  • People are often surprised and relieved that a burning question can be answered, or a myth dispelled, by calling and speaking to one of our lawyers.
  • Attending appointments with your friend – being there can assist in simple ways, for example, by reminding your friend of questions that may have slipped their mind; or even by offering to drive, as a safety precaution, as your friend may be too nervous and stressed to provide their full concentration to the road.
  1. Safety Issues
  • If any person, animal or property is in immediate danger do not hesitate to call 000 and try to remove yourselves from the danger.
  • Escape Routes – Helping to strengthen your friend’s feeling of safety for their children and pets, is imperative. This is where your research can also be of assistance by providing access to contact numbers for services which can provide professional help, or if possible, provide a roof for their pets or them, until alternative accommodation can be arranged.
  • Be very careful and use your discretion in intervening in such matters, as the reaction from the person you are trying to assist may provoke a hostile and negative response from the other party. If you are a neighbour, it would be well advised to call 000 if there is a violent argument next door, and let the Police deal with the situation.
  1. Social Media – Before you post, you should remind yourself of the old phrase, which is most relevant in this instance, silence is golden.
  • Check all social media, from Instagram, Twitter and Linked-In, your Facebook friends list, and privacy settings.
  • If your friend is in a domestically violent relationship, the perpetrator can often use mutual Facebook friends, and associates, as a back door to access your friend’s location, jeopardising the safety of the children and themselves.
  • Whilst you are checking your privacy settings, don’t be tempted to weigh in on personal comments on your friend’s ex or their parenting abilities. These comments could be used against your friend during family law proceedings. Threating or abusing the ex on Facebook may unintentionally be breaching a Protection Order, as the Respondent will be liable for the acts of any third party not keeping the peace and causing distress to the aggrieved.
  1. Bush Law
  • Don’t compare your legal outcome (or anyone else’s, like the work colleague’s friend who got/lost everything), because the law does not operate in a vacuum.
  • Everybody’s circumstances are different, what was relevant for you, or the work colleague’s mate, may not be relevant for your friend.
  • (Good) Family Lawyers will never provide a guaranteed outcome as to what the Judge will decide, but a range of entitlements, after they have examined the evidence.
  • Even if asked, do not attempt to mediate or help negotiate the dispute, as you could end up losing two friends, or perceived as siding with one over the other.
  • Worst case scenario, you may be required as a witness at a criminal hearing, if not a potential victim, as well as your friend.
  • Domestic Violence is insidious, and you may be unaware of the dynamics which have played out behind closed doors, and the extent of the power imbalance and coercive control between them. There is no negotiation when it comes to domestic violence.

Should you, or somebody you know require some expert family law advice, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Gold Coast or Logan family lawyers for 15 minutes of free telephone advice on 07 5679 8016.

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