Marguerite Picard Blog

Hi and welcome to my blog.

This blog is a free resource for you with the aim to educate and express opinions about collaborative family law, divorce, separation and child custody. All articles are informative and are up to date with current practices. Please enjoy reading and take care of yourself. - Marguerite.


“Hello, it’s me I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet me” at the Family Court again?

Maybe the world is divided into two groups. Those who think the Family Court was invented just for them, and those who don’t.

You might be wondering why this is a problem for anyone except the people who go to court?

Let me introduce you to Mr V and Ms D who separated in 2005, and who, since then, have had 10 years of litigation in the Family Court of Australia, as well as a number of special leave applications to the High Court of Australia.

Mr V and Ms D have two children, who were very young at the time of the separation. Now those kids are teenagers.

It is impossible for parents to be in court without their kids knowing it, and it is impossible for long drawn out court cases not to deprive a family of money that could have been put to better use.

Can you imagine what it has been like to grow up with these parents? For the whole of their living memory, these kids’ parents have been at war with each other, and the kids know it. What must that be like for them? I don’t know if you’ve ever been involved in a court case, but if you have, you’ll know that it takes up not only a lot of money, but a huge amount of time and just about all of your emotional energy. When that goes on for ten years, what could be left for the kids?

Every judge, lawyer and social scientist will say that people who are caught up in continual and lengthy court cases have problems, and they’re rarely legal problems. I don’t know what was going on for Mr V and Ms D, but it is almost certain that one or both of them had addiction, personality or mental health issues. There is nothing else that can sustain ten years of litigation!

So what could have been different for this family?

It seems inevitable that they were going to end up in the court system, and that any kind of amicable resolution was beyond Mr V and Ms D. Although they are in the minority of couples, a few percentage only, these are the people the Family Court exists for. But how did the Court system help them? It’s not obvious is it?

Imagine if we had a court system that could recognise when a case was about personal dysfunction and relational conflict, and simply refuse to entertain the case until appropriate mental health or counselling interventions were in place?

That kind of intervention, well done and well-funded, has the best chance of resolving the situation or limiting the arguments between people like Mr V and Ms D. It’s a certain bet that what they told the judge they were arguing about was either the tip of the emotional iceberg, or nothing at all to do with why they ended up fighting in the legal system for ten years.

Not only would a psychological intervention have most likely saved these parents and their children from years of pain, but it would have saved us all vast sums each year, because the user does not pay for the court system. You do!

Divorce without court? Don’t leave it to luck.

Divorce without court. Amicable divorce. Good divorce. Civilised separation. There are many ways you can describe the idea of preserving your health, your wealth and your family after separation. And there are many ways to go about making sure your marriage or relationship doesn’t end in an expensive war of words between lawyers, that could do lasting damage to everyone.… Read more

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Child Support: Rich House, Poor House

Every so often I’m reminded why the child support formula is a really bad idea for some families. This week was one of those weeks, when I encountered two distressing family stories: In both of these families, the father earns very significant amounts of money. Very. In both cases the conflict between the parents is off the scale. And in… Read more

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Bird’s Nest Parenting

Who gets the House after Divorce? The Kids? Yes, sometimes the kids do get the house. For a time anyway. For many separating parents, the idea of the kids having to move or “lose” their house is painful. Over the years, I have known many couples who have tried moving in and out of the family home, instead of their… Read more

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Should I Sack my Family Lawyer?

Since you’ve read past the headline, maybe you’d like to? Have you ever thought? Why are the lawyers making this so complicated? OMG this is costing me a fortune; My lawyer never returns my calls; I’m terrified to ring my lawyer because of the cost; My lawyers letters are full of mumbo jumbo; I’ve got no idea where this is… Read more

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