“Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” – by Billy Joel

Sitting in a local restaurant last night, I was overwhelmed by the conversations taking place around me that were related to families going through separation. It was a little like the Billy Joel song “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” when he sings about Brenda and Eddie “starting to fight when the money got tight and they just didn’t count on the tears” leading to “it’s always the same in the end, they got a divorce as a matter of course”.

The restaurant I was at had wonderful food, and great drinks, but was a cosy little place where you were almost sitting directly next to your fellow diners which meant that overhearing conversations was inevitable. A group of women sitting behind me were strategising how one of them could leave her marriage given her limited financial independence. A group of friends to my right were having an intense conversation about a friend of theirs that should leave her husband, and they discussed at length the isolating behaviours displayed by the husband and they couldn’t come up with a plan for their friend to get her out of what they considered to be a difficult situation. The questions both groups were asking were the same – What can she do? What help can she access? What happens to the kids? How does she get some money to get by?

As a family lawyer, perhaps my ears prick up at the mention of particular words or phrases – but I would say that most of us know someone going through a separation or have been through a separation. For our friends or family, we worry about them and we talk about how we can help them in tough times. I wanted to step away from the delicious plate in front of me, and talk to these groups of people as a family lawyer – but of course I didn’t as it wasn’t the time, nor the place for those conversations.

The questions being asked over drinks at a restaurant can often be answered by a family lawyer. If you know someone going through a separation, perhaps suggest to them that they see a family lawyer for an initial consultation – and get some answers. Both Sophie Pearson and Rebecca Durkin are available for initial consultations in both our Southport and Burleigh Heads office.

Rebecca Durkin