Separating from your partner can be one of the most stressful times in your life. Suddenly your greatest confidante can feel like a stranger as feelings of anger, anxiety and stress creep in. But separation doesn't have to be anchored in hurt, fighting or costly legal fees – there is a more peaceful pathway available for couples - you just need to know how to find it.
In the new book, What Are We Fighting For, family law specialist Kirsty Salvestro draws upon extensive experience to provide a step-by-step guide to amicable separation. Filled with case studies, worksheets and resources, the book prepares, teaches and guides readers through a calm and peaceful pathway, empowering them with the tools needed to navigate toward a fair and respectful solution. Salvestro says that the key to achieving this peaceful pathway is by following six key steps:
1. Stay calm: Realign yourself and your values. Map out your new pathway.
2. Prepare: Do your research. Create your team. Complete action lists and consider your needs and interests.
3. Gather: Collect all the information, documents and any advice you need.
4. Explore: Investigate, fully understand and review your needs. Do a regular reality test to make sure you are still on the pathway.
5. Negotiate: Create the right atmosphere. Know what you need to discuss. Negotiate. Find ways through your obstacles.
6. Resolve: Finalise your agreement. Test your solution. Write it up.
Insightful, accessibly written and grounded in understanding, What Are We Fighting For? is an essential guide for those navigating separation and working toward a positive future.
About the author
Kirsty Salvestro is a family lawyer and accredited mediator working exclusively in out-of-court family law solutions. Having worked as a lawyer for 18 years and having experienced separation herself as a child and adult, she has the knowledge and experience to really know what a peaceful pathway can look like for separating couples and the benefits it can bring to families. She has created her own step-by-step method that she uses with her own clients and now shares with you.
What Are We Fighting For
Question: What originally inspired the idea of What Are We Fighting For?
Kirsty Salvestro: There were many days when I would come home from work, feeling totally drained and disheartened by the constant fighting and negative behaviour that I was seeing come out of my family law work. Then there were days where I witnessed some amazing acts of human kindness and co-operation and I realised this really is the better way to do this! I decided that instead of helping clients fight, I needed to teach them ways to avoid a fight.
I found it hard to teach this being in a small rural practice that was very set in its ways, so I left that practice, set up my own "out of court solutions only" firm and ultimately wrote the book to help as many couples as I possibly could. It was created as a guide for them to work their way through their separation as much as they could on their own, focusing on their behaviour, choices and preparing them to negotiate.
Question: What did you learn, about yourself, whilst writing What Are We Fighting For?
Kirsty Salvestro: I released that it is ok to be me, someone who prefers to choose kindness and forgiveness over anger and hatred in all areas of life, including work. That there is nothing wrong with being kind, despite the fact that I had been criticised for being just that in the past. My kind and calm approach will actually help couples and change their lives for the better.
Question: What's the main message you hope readers take from What Are We Fighting For?
Kirsty Salvestro: You don't always need run straight to a lawyer immediately after separation. You need to make sure you are ready and in the right frame of mind before you do, otherwise your decision-making abilities are effected. There are often more pressing things that need to be done first, like attending counselling, getting support or even the practical things like gathering your documents and working out what you can afford.
The most important message would be to remember that there are better ways to resolve a dispute than just court and fighting. That if you can stay calm and follow my 6-step process, you will be well underway to reaching a fair and amicable settlement agreement.
Question: Can you share some tips with us featured in the book?
Kirsty Salvestro: · Stay Calm. It is not the time to take any drastic action. Avoid being reactive with your actions and decisions and stop the unnecessary texts and emails!
· Take extra care of yourself. Do things that make you feel good. Meditation, walking, yoga, running, massage. Eat well and get rest. Get support. See your GP.
· Behave. Set your own behaviour guide. Determine how you want to act, who you want to be now, during and after this separation. What are your morals and values?
· Forgive. If you need to, forgive. Let go of your resentment, anger and bitterness. If you do this, you will allow yourself to focus on positive and important aspects of your life.
· Choose a supportive team. Be careful of who you want on your team.
· Research. Research and look for information you need to stay on a peaceful pathway. Look at what options you have and do your research before you take any action.
Question: What research did you do, prior to writing What Are We Fighting For?
Kirsty Salvestro: I worked with family law clients for 18 years, I too was a child of separation and went through a separation when I was 30. So, I drew on my experiences at work and in my own life to create the advice and guidance set out in my book.
Question: What advice do you have for aspiring writers or artists?
Kirsty Salvestro: Just do it! I had always wanted to write a book but never thought it was possible. It was actually so helpful to be able to write it all down, it gave me clarity and focus on what I was trying to achieve.
To write the book, I set a goal of 5000 words each week and I made sure that by the end of each week I had achieved this goal no matter what! If you can set your own goals that are achievable, then you will get there!
Question: What or who inspired your love of reading/writing?
Kirsty Salvestro: As a child, I loved to get lost in books. My grandmother was a vivid reader, and I spent a lot of time with her as a child and so ended up sitting and reading along side her. I still surround myself with books and read as much and as widely as I can.
Question: What's next, for you?
Kirsty Salvestro: Another book! Yes. I do want to write another book. I would love to focus on the methods that other lawyers and practitioners working with separated couples can use to bring kind and calm methods into their practice. I have also turned What are we Fighting? for into an online course so keep your eyes and ears out for that one in the meantime!
Interview by Gwen van Montfort