This time last year, many of us couldn’t have imagined what was awaiting us “around the corner”.  With everything from fires that were burning around the country, to floods, and a Global pandemic reaching our shores. Not to mention the financial crisis that has affected so many lives, 2020 has certainly presented its challenges for many of us.

Family Law Lawyer, Jacqui Bilson has seen firsthand the effects of 2020 on families. “I’ve seen a significant number of cases that can be tied to the effects of 2020. Being sympathetic to a client’s needs and situations can help in having a client open up to then having a clear understanding of their situation,” says Jacqui.

Now more than ever its Jacqui’s expertise in Humanities and Counselling is proving to be an essential aspect of working in the Family Law arena.

“Many clients arrive at my office feeling completely helpless, their body language says as much, before we’ve even said a word,” says Jacqui.

“By employing empowering communication techniques, I’ve found my clients have benefited from my expertise in Counselling because I was able to have a greater understanding and empathy to help their case,” added Jacqui.

With this in mind and heading into the festive season, (typically a stressful period for the best of us, pre-pandemic!) Bilson Law is offering their tips for what you can look out for with your family members & friends (and colleagues) who may be doing it tough.

  1. Is a girlfriend, sister, aunt maybe even your mum withdrawn and isolated? Are they not as enthusiastic as they normally would be? Not turning up to events (even online events)? Look out for these signs of constantly declining invitations.
  2.  Are they saying they are not coping? Perhaps they brush off the question of “Are you ok?” with a simple “yeah” and move on to another topic. Perhaps they are feeling overwhelmed with life pressures? Are they taking less care with their appearance, perhaps when they would usually take the time to do their hair and make-up, now they’re giving it a miss? While you don’t have to be pointed and say “what’s up with the dishevelled” look… You’ll want to ask gently and quietly away from others.
  3. Have they confided in you that their relationship is not what it used to be? Perhaps they’ve said something that was out of character, it may be a call for help. Perhaps not directly, but they may be dropping subtle lines or “digging” on their partner? Keep an ear out for any signals.
  4. Are they drinking alcohol more than usual? We all know 2020 has pushed many of us to drink more, especially during the lockdown, it is critical to keep an eye on this sort of behaviour.

With these signs to look out for, the critical next step is, what should I do next?

This is where a lot of people struggle.

  1. DIG deeper, for example: ask your friend  “How have you really been?”, “What has been happening?” and then followed with “What is that like?” or “How has that been?”. You never know, dig a little, you might just be the sounding boarding that person needed, to share their feelings! Remember try not to offer advice, simply listen. If they do ask for your advice, refer them to a professional, such as a Counsellor, Lawyer or Psychiatrist. In terms of WHERE you should have these conversations you may want to take a girlfriend out for coffee or take her and the kids to the park, let the children play while you listen to your friend. She may very well appreciate the “break” from every day, even if it’s just for a short period of time.
  2. HELP. If you are unable to listen because it’s triggering past issues for you or for whatever reason, suggest some support. Make sure you know what help is available. Google the numbers for Lifeline, Beyond Blue or a relevant counsellor. Offer to help connect them with the support service. You may even want to offer to drive them to an appointment or sit with them as they make a call. Just having someone nearby may be the support they need. If you feel listening isn’t something you can do, perhaps prepare some dinners, or better yet, organise a cleaner or some time out for her in some way (maybe a massage or beauty treatment – something that’s directly for her).
  3. CHECK-IN. Follow up! A text, a quick call, whatever works.  A person struggling may not be able to catch up, for a variety of reasons so please remember, an invitation doesn’t need to result in an action to be an effective intervention strategy, the invitation itself can be like a dose of medicine. Sometimes the greatest help can be someone who checks in regularly. If you have to set a reminder to do so, then do that! Whatever will help your friend in need.

While there are uncertainties about 2021, in terms of waiting for a vaccine for COVID19, and the impact from global economies (the appointment of a new US President, the COVID19 pandemic in Europe and USA) and reaction to the end of financial support from the Australian Government, if you’re feeling the pressure, you can take action now and seek professional advice.

Jacqui reminds us that having a conversation with a Lawyer or Counsellor is by no means an obligation to carry out any action. “By simply talking through your situation and what the possible outcomes may be can provide you with help and perspective you require.”

“A good lawyer will not only look at the individual’s situation critically they will be sympathetic and work towards understanding the complexities of the case to result in a positive outcome for all involved,” finished Jacqui.


Jacqui is a family law lawyer with experience representing clients in negotiations, mediation and Court (including Federal Circuit Court and Family Court) at Sydney, Parramatta and Newcastle in NSW.

Jacqui has experience in complex matters including where there have been serious allegations of risk and family violence including Magellan Protocol matters.

Prior to becoming a lawyer, for more than 17 years, Jacqui studied and worked extensively in the social science and humanities arena. She completed a Diploma in Welfare, Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) and a Graduate Diploma in Counselling and has worked with various communities and client groups.

It is experts in social science who guide the family law courts. With Jacqui’s extensive background in social science and the humanities, she brings a unique and effective approach to her family law practice.

Jacqui is passionate about achieving the best results for clients and ensuring clients are informed every step of the way.

Photo created by yanalya