Vulnerable divorcees risk losing everything at the hands of expensive lawyers, according to barrister and author Dominique Grubisa.
The author of Getting to Ex - Taking control of your divorce has suggested that the process of divorce and the automatic reliance on expensive lawyers needs to change.
"[As a barrister] I found we get entrenched in what we as lawyers, in our system, perceive how things should be done....we never actually think commercially and [cases] just go on the litigation treadmill and come off the other end," she says.
Through her years of experience in family law, Grubisa observed vulnerable divorcees in need of emotional support who mistakenly expected their lawyers to provide it. According to Grubisa, lawyers provide a false sense of security and this comes at a high price.
"I found that of all areas of law, family law was the most difficult as these people are going through a horrible time and tend not to think clearly, so they dump everything on the lawyers thinking, in their vulnerability, that they will fix it all up," Grubisa explains.
"Unfortunately, if you don't know what you want or what is best, no-one else will help you and in the end the decision goes to a third party - a judge who imposes something that neither party wants and it's lose/lose for everyone, apart from the lawyers who get paid anyway."
While Grubisa acknowledges that lawyers are there to assist with divorce cases where needed, she says there are times when it is better to rely on one's own knowledge and experience to make a contribution to the application for divorce. She says people have to take control of their case rather than leaving it all to third parties.
"The way I see it you should be the general and the lawyers should be the soldiers in the trenches. You bring in an expert when you need one, but you don't hand them the reigns - you help them achieve a win/win," she says.
"It's not about destroying your opponent and it will help people get to the point where they can settle their case on their terms, no matter how unreasonable the spouse, which is the best possible outcome."
In her book, Grubisa has provided a practical guide that describes each step of the divorce process, including the lawyer's role, and teaches divorcees how to minimise legal bills.
Drawing on her cousin's experience as an emotional divorcee, Grubisa says she wrote the book because she felt she had to explain to divorcees that even though they will need a lawyer at some point, they can still do the ground work and minimise their legal bill.
"[The book] is not bagging lawyers... [But] people just want to pay someone to make it all go away but they don't actually know what's involved. There's all this mystique around the law," she says. "[Divorcees] should take responsibility and take control."
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