Marlborough Magazine August 18 - Page 7

SHOWCASE STORY BY KAT PICKFORD | 7 SUSIE WILLIAMS Alleviating the financial burden of a breakup Instead of dragging out relationship property disputes in hopes of settling out of court, Blenheim’s Phil Watson is supporting clients to follow the court process and save themselves time, money and unnecessary emotional distress. The well known criminal and relationship lawyer is no stranger to the court process and says it is cheaper, and more efficient and effective to file relationship property cases in court, than to attempt to resolve them through sometimes endless negotiations through lawyers. Recent Supreme Court rulings on two high-profile relationship property cases reiterated the principle of the 50-50 split, “unless there’s a really, really good reason not to,” Phil says. “A lot of people struggle during separation - it takes a huge emotional toll on not only the partners, but on their children and extended families, too,” he says. “It can take years for cases to be settled, and all too often it turns into a nasty paper war between lawyers charging high hourly fees to write letters, which are largely ineffective.” As cases drag on, people become stuck in limbo, unable to move on before a resolution is reached. After witnessing years of finger- pointing, petty ‘he said, she said’ arguments and clumsy, ineffective negotiations, Phil has decided the best way to split is, like pulling off a bandaid, quickly and painlessly. “Splitting up does not bring out the best in us. You might think you’d be mature enough to part amicably if the situation ever arose, but there are no friends in breakups - just bruised egos, greed and retribution.” Determined to help people resolve their relationship property woes so they can move on with their lives, Phil has taken on former Project Manager and IT Consultant, Peter Jameson, as a Compliance and Research Manager. Peter says his job is to “follow the trail”, research the case, gather information, conduct interviews and compose letters, all at a fraction of the cost. Phil does the due diligence, ensuring everything is in order before signing the affidavits and filing the cases in court. Once it’s lodged in court, the system takes over, giving the other party 20 days to respond, removing all the posturing and intimidation that goes on between couples as they arm-wrestle for control. “Cases can go on and on; it becomes a war of attrition - who’s got the most money and resources to keep fighting, and in the end no one wins except the lawyers,” Peter says. “We can see there’s a need for this kind of service in Blenheim - quick, effective and as pain-free as possible.” While cases might be filed in court, 90 percent of the time relationship property disputes don’t end up in front of a judge and are resolved through the judicial process before it gets to a trial. In the judicial process, a judge will give his views on the situation and how he would rule if the case did make it to court, which gives both parties guidance about how to best proceed. “We’re just keeping it simple - following the system as it was intended to be used in an effort to make it as easy and economic as possible,” Phil says. “If you want to come in and have a chat about your options, we can give you a pretty good estimate of how much it’s likely to cost.” Phil also encourages people with existing prenuptial and property agreements and family trusts set up to protect individual financial interests to chat to their lawyers about how the recent Supreme Court rulings might impact them, or call him or Peter for a free initial consultation. “Better Call Phil” Deco House, PO Box 205, 71 Scott Street, Blenheim Phone: 03 972 2143 | watsonlegalnz@gmail.com | www.watsonlegal.co.nz