Real Housewives – Real Family (Law) Issues?

Real Housewives – Real Family (Law) Issues?

Judge as much as you like – I’m reality TV obsessed. Much to the dismay of my own friends and family, my favourite way to relax is usually watching diamond-clad-fifty-somethings arguing at dinner parties over who said what about who…

Regardless of your views on the housewives themselves, the family lawyer in me was quite moved by the most recent Real Housewives of Beverly Hills episode, which showed two of the show’s long-standing figures, Kyle Richards and her husband Mauricio Umansky, break the news of their separation to their four daughters.

While the pair’s rocky marriage had been the main topic of the latest season, it was the first time we had seen them discuss their separation with their kids.

As someone who deals with family breakdowns for a living, it was encouraging to see Kyle and Mauricio sit down, amicably together, to gently explain the situation to their girls, and discuss what the next steps would be for their family. Although neither were quite sure of where things were headed, their conversation showed a desire for putting the children and the family first – no matter what came next.

Despite the Housewives franchise being fairly unserious and usually just a bit of easy watching, this episode highlighted the impact that family breakdown has on everyone involved – and the potential benefit that approaching your next steps amicably, and as a family, can have.

How can I keep things amicable?

When it comes to separating, there are lots of things that parties can do to maintain a good relationship, both for the benefit of their own mental well-being, and the benefit of any children they have together.

Consult with a family lawyer

If you think that your relationship is headed towards separation, it’s beneficial to take some advice from a family lawyer, even in the early stages.

Arguments can be caused by parties throwing around inaccurate legal advice they’ve heard from friends or family, or making unrealistic demands that have no basis. Knowing your legal rights can help inform your conversations, and allow you to have meaningful and realistic discussions about what you both want to do next.

Get organised

Assets and liabilities of the relationship will have to be dealt with in the event of a separation, and so parties will need to pull together all the financial information they have about anything they “own or owe”. That will usually include the house, cars, bank accounts, pensions, credit cards, and so on.

Delays in getting that information together, although sometimes unavoidable, can make parties feel anxious or frustrated. There may be some mistrust from one party that the other is reluctant to come forward about their financial information. Those unpleasant emotions can result in ill-feeling between parties, and may result in irrational decisions being made.

Having everything laid out in front of you from the start will make it easier to have sensible discussions about settlement.

Consider mediation for amicable resolutions

Where you find yourselves at odds over certain matters regarding separation, it’s common for once amicable discussions to become a bit more tense.

Mediation can be a very useful way to reach a resolution while maintaining a good relationship with one another. Mediation is a dispute resolution process where a neutral third party, known as the mediator, helps individuals or parties in conflict to communicate, understand each other’s perspectives, and work towards finding a solution that works for both of them.

The collaborative nature of mediation encourages open communication and cooperation between parties. By working together to find solutions, parties can maintain a more amicable relationship compared to the adversarial nature of court.

Focus on the wellbeing of the children

“Putting the children first” is something we hear often when couples separate, and it essentially means making an active effort to prioritise the wellbeing and best interests of any children involved.

It involves making decisions that consider the emotional, mental, and physical needs of the children – above any personal grievances that may exist between parties.

Putting the children first may include maintaining open communication between parents, creating a stable environment for the children, and working collaboratively to make decisions about contact and residence.

Adopting this approach should minimise the negative impact of divorce on the children, and foster a supportive co-parenting relationship for their benefit.

I know many critics of reality television will be torn between Kyle and Mauricio’s on-camera display – was it a heartfelt insight into their family life, or simply just for show?

Regardless, it was positive from a family lawyer’s perspective to see Kyle and Mauricio be willing to talk openly to their children about their separation, and seemingly, doing so with love for one another and a desire to make things work – whether they are together, or not. I hope they find whatever kind of resolution that will work for them, and their family, in the future.

If you’re experiencing a separation and would benefit from advice tailored to your situation, contact Gemma Nimmo.

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