The publication of these ‘101 Questions’, and more particularly the 101 Answers which follow and are aimed at those who are facing the daunting and at times bewildering prospect of picking up and reforming their lives, parenting and finances after separation, could not be more welcome, coming, as it does, at a time when more and more are having to cope with these major life-challenges without professional advice or guidance.
Any reader would be well advised to invest the time in reading it from cover to cover, thereby gaining a real ‘feel’ for the approach of family law professionals and the courts.
For many, separation from a spouse or long-term partner sufficient to trigger the need to engage with the issues covered in this book will be a once in a lifetime event. They will be facing the significant challenges that separation generates for the first time and without any experience or understanding of what may be involved. Expectations of entitlement and of what is ‘right’ and ‘just’ may run high; emotions may well be both raw and powerful. A common view amongst the judiciary is that there is a need for a range of interventions aimed at assisting those who come to the Family Court by managing their expectations at an early stage as to what the court can and cannot do for them. This book is therefore both welcome and timely simply because it is most likely to succeed in meeting this very need.
A parent in a family case who is hungry for hard information, sound realistic advice and a ‘feel’ for the court process will find much to feed on in these pages; they may also consume them knowing that they have been compiled from a gender-neutral perspective, with the aim simply of providing practical and legally accurate information without any underlying agenda.
Most ‘self-help’ books seem to be penned by a single author or a small team. In contrast, each of these ‘101 Questions’ is answered by a different expert. This, obviously, has the benefit of enhancing the quality of the individual answers, but, in my view, there is a greater value when the book is read a whole. Each specialist contribution, like a pixel, builds up to a bigger picture. Whether the question is about pension sharing or a worry about the alcohol consumption of the other parent, the author, being experienced in working with families and the Family Court across the board, when describing how best to approach the micro-issue is also contributing to an overall understanding of how the legal system engages with the issues generated by separation more generally. It is this latter aspect, which is, in my view, of great value and marks this work out from others. Irrespective of the current pressing problem that may have caused a parent to pick this book up, any reader would be well advised to invest the time in reading it from cover to cover, thereby gaining a real ‘feel’ for the approach of family law professionals and the courts in general to these important and difficult problems.
The Rt. Hon. Sir Andrew McFarlane
President of the Family Division
Posted on February 6, 2019