Advice Column, Health, Lifestyle, Parenting


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MBI Attorneys, share advice on the subject of divorce and reveal this law firms unique approach.

How often as parents have we all used spelling a word out as a device to prevent our children from understanding what we are talking about?

The hit country and western song of the above name goes a long way towards exposing the complexities and pain attached to divorce.

“The spelling out loud of ‘divorce’ by singer Tammy Wynette was certainly a parody but also a soulful rendition of the tale of a parent using an age old ruse in order to spare her child from hearing the dreaded word,” says Beverly Brown, senior partner and co-founder of MBI Attorneys.

The song is a divorcee’s perspective on the pending collapse of the marriage.  Although written from the woman’s angle it aptly represents either side of the gender coin in the divorce stakes with both parties trying to protect the children caught in the middle and yet get off the battlefield with as few wounds as possible.

“I thought it would never happen to me, is a phrase I have heard many times in consultation with clients grappling with this life changing decision and seeking guidance on how to proceed.

“Indeed in many instances over the seventeen years I have been practicing as a family law attorney, I have consulted with clients who have not yet finalised that decision in their minds and who desperately seek insight into the impact it would have on their family, their lives and their financial future,” she adds.

Beverly says there are a myriad of reasons why people can move to considering divorce.  “Some are what would be considered obvious – infidelity; physical or verbal abuse; drug or alcohol addiction. Financial pressure is high on the list and places immense stress on a marriage. In fact studies show that in times of recession divorce statistics rocket skywards.

“Other reasons can be of a more subtle nature with insidious changes in a relationship taking place over time with one party changing to an extent that the other can no longer tolerate.  This eventually leads to the realisation that living apart is probably the only decision if both partners are to provide a happy environment for their children and themselves,” says Beverly.

The harsh reality.

Chantelle Martins, partner, MBI attorneys,  adds that the implications of this harsh reality are immense.  “The financial impact of having to sustain two households from the same income that to date has often barely managed to sustain one, is only one consideration.

“There are also the emotional implications – everyone is wounded and egos are dented but the latter needs to be put aside where children are concerned. Attorneys don’t usually look at the wellness aspect of a pending divorce but this is essential and fundamental to how MBI approaches divorce.  The emotional or social implications can include loss of friendships; anxiety and even depression which in turn holds implications for the entire family unit,” notes Chantelle.

So, what to do when the decision is taken?

Beverly advises that the first thing to do is to take responsibility for the choice of attorney.  “You can go to a lawyer for a legal solution but be aware that this may not be a practical solution for your family.

“What you need is an attorney who will support you whilst driving the process in your best interest.  Selecting an attorney is easy – find one who truly understands your particular situation.  In short – the lawyer must ‘get it’.  If they don’t ‘get it’ – walk on – they are not right for you.  You need an attorney who truly understands the reality of the immense trauma you are suffering which often includes living on enemy territory,” says Beverly.

MBI takes the approach of empowering our clients with knowledge and understanding of the legal process and the available options.

Chantelle explains: “In collaboration with the client we prepare a carefully considered strategy which aims to put the client back in control of their lives.  This translates into dignity and respect for clients at a time in their lives when many, if not all, are overwhelmed by events.

“The mantra of this practice is founded on three key values:

  • Know your client
  • Know your client
  • and above all – Know your client!

“This is critical in terms of the first step in divorce – which is the issuing of the summons.  Where children are involved this is a strategic move involving immense sensitivities that must be taken into account.

“In hostile situations we assist clients by calculating the impact of actions on the entire family unit.  We strive to guide clients and their families to understand that despite the fact that times are tough and even sad for them, this is how they will deal with it and get through it,” notes Chantelle.

A divorce is like an amputation: you survive it, but there’s less of you.

This is a quote from author Margaret Atwood but according to Beverly it does not have to be like that. “A strong support network of friends and family is crucial. But it must be the right support in the shape of people who are capable of making a paradigm shift and putting themselves in your shoes, as opposed to offering solace based on their personal history or disappointments.

“There is no doubt that divorce is a lonely journey so we encourage clients to establish a support network but to be discerning about who they discuss the fine details with and to be wary about taking advice from others working through their own emotional scar tissue.”

Beverly says Resilience is crucial. “Finding reserves will be difficult but knowing that you are part of the solution to this life problem and working hand in hand with your legal team brings confidence.”

Learn what resources your legal team has available, if any.  

What is meant by that?

“In the foregoing I have outlined our approach to the needs of our clients but our expertise is augmented by a support network of South Africa’s finest high profile social workers and senior advocates.   This is a powerful combination of skills that results in providing our clients with a legal dream team who puts their needs and the preservation of their family unit front and centre of all initiatives on their behalf.”

Coming out on the other side? 

Beverly says: “If you have chosen the right attorney there will be light at the end of the tunnel.”

But what about the outcomes?

“Outcomes must be examined in terms of the impact on all parties involved.

“The law is here to serve and not just be practiced for the sake of it.  At MBI we understand that. Ours is a unique approach.  We truly comprehend the reality of the trauma of divorce for our clients and our focus, from day one, is to endeavour to achieve the best outcome possible for all involved,” Beverly concludes.


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