The Summer is drawing to a close, holidays have been taken, the football transfer window has closed, the lighter nights are gradually drawing in and the school run has been added to traffic flow. I guess I shall soon be back to the gym rather than striding across the Common or out-pacing narrowboats in the Summer breeze.

So the Autumn – season of mellow fruitfulness – has arrived. The Americans with their no-nonsense approach, call it ‘fall’ to remind them to dodge leaves and fruit.  ‘Dodging fruit’ is a transatlantic sport it seems, but their main course portions make up for it.   Travellers’ Tip: it is always worth spotting the proportion of American tourists being catered for before deciding on what to order – what to us Brits might be noodles for a table of four might be regarded as a single portion, as I once discovered.   Would it be followed by a wafer-thin slice of peach?   “Fall Off!” or something similar emanated from the Creosote party of diners.    But enough of fruit-dodgers.

Family lawyers have long conditioned themselves to expect two or three peak times for new enquiries: September, when the children are back to school and the memory of a miserable family vacation is fresh; January, when the family have been crammed together, over-stuffed and the relationship feels like a ‘turkey’ and there is a minor surge in February, when crass commercialisation has surrounded the 14th February with a sea of pink schmaltz, much to the annoyance of those for whom their relationship fails to sizzle, sparkle or steam.   More ‘Gone in Sixty Seconds’ than ‘9½ weeks’ those domestic dossiers could not even be ‘sexed-up’ by Tony Blair on a mission for Bush.  More black armband than little black book, February like those other pinch-points in the year usually see an increase in enquiries.

‘How do I stand?’ is a common enquiry at such times, falling on family solicitors’ ears like the ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ of a few weeks before.

Avoiding trite responses to such questions is a mark of professionalism.  We have a complex system in which subjective ‘fairness’ is recognised as being more important than mathematical certainty and it requires nuanced thinking to deliver such outcomes.   Responsible lawyers do not promise outcomes, but comprehensible evaluations, tactical experience and diligent approaches.

Fall out.