The gossip must have circled the grapevine 4 times already.

Whispers and whisperers have hinted heavily that soon the anticipated latest iphone is to be released . Apparently Apple has been as secretive as it has always been since its Jobs heydays yet the rumours have still dripped and dispersed across the web. And Apple fans have been on the lookout for ‘the signs’ such as new apps being released and communication stores have been known to stop their employees from going on holiday around end of September.

It’s interesting that one of the world’s leading companies that is always on the cutting edge of technology is relying on an age-old technique of spreading the word – the gossip mill.

Reading the signs and listening to rumours is something that almost every family law client has experienced. I often get clients whose marriage is still ‘intact’ but who have either seen the writing on the wall or the warning signals. Research has shown that around 65% of men who have experienced a breakdown of their marriage saw the divorce coming.

Starting to see the signs could be a very stressful and emotionally distressing time. A question that will keep popping up is “what should I do?”

If your spouse is threatening to relocate with the children, or take them outside of Australia or acting in a way that can cause harm to anyone or to the livelihood of the parties first and foremost ensure that you have done all you could to safeguard everything. Afterwards contact a family lawyer urgently to seek injunctions and urgent orders from the Court.

However if there is no urgency and there are children to the relationship then start seeking help. A good place to start is with through dispute resolution and mediation. The Family Court and the law strongly recommend that the parties settle things amicably as it is often in the children’s best interests.

The best thing to do is to see a counsellor during this difficult time and then to see a family lawyer. There is also no point in attending mediation if you are too stressed or distressed to make any decisions or discuss the issues. There is no point attending mediation if you don’t know what to ask for, what is reasonable and what is negotiable.

A family lawyer is not just for going to court. They will tell you what to expect at separation, what the likely outcomes will be in terms of parenting and property and are also able to attend with you at settlement conferences.

Once you are aware of your rights and entitlements you can go to mediation prepared. If you settle your matter, your lawyer will also draft court orders as per your agreement so that everything ‘is in black and white’ and you have peace of mind.

So if you see the signs, get help. Stressing and over-analysing everything in the dark will not help you or your family.

By Nadia Messiha