Joanne Major, Principal of Major Family Law, the North East’s leading family law specialists, comments in the Northern Insight this month it is a generally accepted truism that divorce is one of the most stressful life events one can go through, coming second only to the death of a spouse on the Holmes & Rahe Stress Scale, with similar scores on the equivalent scale for children.

The end of a marriage has been likened to a bereavement and the physiological effects can be similar. Stress, anxiety, depression, tiredness and lack of focus are common symptoms, along with feelings of abandonment and rejection, the worry of coping financially, and adjusting to being one instead of part of a couple.

Whilst the range of possible effects of divorce are generally acknowledged, there has been little in the way of professional support available historically to help address those effects and to meet the needs of the individual. As lawyers, we are trained in legal procedure, in problem solving and in promoting our clients’ best interests, but not specifically in dealing with our clients’ emotional issues. Although we often find ourselves counsellor as well as counsel, better support is needed which focuses entirely on the client’s needs.

Whilst there has been a steadily growing acceptance in recent years within the legal profession that steps should be taken to make the divorce process less adversarial wherever possible and to focus on assisting clients to achieve a satisfactory resolution by constructive, non-confrontational methods, this only goes some of the way to addressing the lack of emotional support for people struggling to cope on a personal and emotional level with the end of their marriage.

As a niche practice dealing exclusively with family law matters, Major Family Law have always been concerned to offer clients a comprehensive service, and take a holistic view of the definition of client support. For this reason, in a unique step, we offer our clients the opportunity to access a Family Consultant as part of the separation and divorce process.

Whilst Family Consultants are already in use around the country, they are largely used for support specifically within the collaborative process when divorcing couples are working towards reaching an amicable agreement in relation to financial and children matters.

What makes the service we offer unique is that we do not offer it within the specific framework of a divorce settlement process; it is a stand-alone service accessible at any stage when a client feels the need for additional support. Whilst being an independent and confidential service, it complements our own expertise and reflects our client-focused approach.

Graeme Armstrong, our Family Consultant, is qualified in delivering relationship counselling and guidance to individuals, couples, families and young people over the age of 11 and has been a Senior Team member for Relate Northumberland and Tyneside, and has Post Graduate Diplomas in Relationship Therapies. Over the past year Graeme has helped dozens of our clients to both process their emotions and work them at this difficult and potentially devastating time, allowing them to approach their relationships, and their future, in a more responsive and positive way. You don’t have to be seeing a Major Family Lawyer to see Graeme, and his work with you will be confidential. Some of the issues that Graeme has helped our clients with include:

  • Confused or devastated thoughts and feelings
  • Coming to terms with the loss of a relationship
  • How life changes after a relationship breaks up: how do I survive and thrive?
  • How to work through this relationship in depth and take steps to leave
  • Parenting after parting: how to tell your children what’s happening and how best to move forward
  • The impact of divorce on your children and how to work to minimise this
  • Help if you are struggling with anxiety, low mood or lacking in self confidence


From our point of view at Major Family Law, being able to offer this exclusive service to our clients is just as important as referring them to an expert accountant or pensions adviser when that is the advice they need. We are delighted to be working with Graeme and being able to offer our clients such a unique and holistic approach.

Divorce in the 21st century is not just about who gets the house. If you think you could benefit from the services we can offer, and in particular our Family Consultant, then please do contact us in strict confidence to find out more.