If you are here, I guess you might want to know a little more about me? Well here goes!
I am a wife, mum to two, Divorce Lawyer (don’t hold that against me!) and lover of chocolate, coffee and anything colourful! I love to write, dance and spend any free moment I have ‘crafting’ (or as I like to call it #bedazzling!)
By day I am an accredited specialist family lawyer and the Director of BFLC- a firm I created in 2008 as I felt that the usual way of helping separating families just didn’t quite cut it! Now I run a bustling practice here and while we are based in Brisbane, we help families all over Australia. I have been working in family law for 20 years now and have won a number of Awards along the way as a result of my work in advocating and implementing change in this tricky part of the legal system.
I am a specialist in working with separating families in a way that keeps them away from the Courts and enables them to remain friends for the future. This takes courage, and is not for everyone, but divorce is one of the most challenging moments any of us can experience and after 20 years in family law I have come to learn that a long, expensive and combative legal process is rarely good for anyone. I have spent many years learning and now teaching my colleagues in family law, particularly in collaborative practice- a process that helps separating families find solutions that keeps them out of the Courts.
I have also spent much of my career acting as an Independent Children’s Lawyer- a role where I am appointed by the Family Law Courts to advocate on behalf of children in complex parenting cases.
I also regularly act as a Separate Representative in the Children’s Court- in matters where vulnerable children are in need of protection through our care and protection system.
Working for children in the family law system reminds me daily of how important the decisions we make as parents really are- whether that be during our relationships or at the end of them.
I published my first book, Splitsville- How to separate, stay out of court and stay friends in 2015 and have since spent countless hours training family lawyers in Australia and around the world in better ways we can help our clients through divorce.
In my ‘other hours’ I work with lawyers around Australia through my ‘side hustle’ ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life’. After managing my own experience of burn out thanks to my life as a lawyer, I now work helping others ensure they can build great lives in law (and outside of it too!)
My podcast and book both titled ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life’ offer insights and resources for legal professionals seeking fulfilling careers and happiness both in law and in life.
I didn’t set out to be a happiness advocate in law but it seems that is just how it has all come together and in 2019 I was recognised as the 2019 Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards Wellness Advocate of the Year and the inaugural winner of the Minds Court Individual Wellness Advocate in Law.
These days I still work with families all around Australia helping them through divorce and separation and all the bits in between. But in my ‘free time’ I am working hard to change the way lawyers practise law, to reduce our overly high rates of anxiety, depression and psychological illhealth just in case one of my girls decides this crazy career might be for her too!
So there you go. Me in a few paragraphs!
If you are looking for assistance through divorce and separation I would welcome the chance to work with you. Me/my firm and our style of lawyering is not for everyone but we work best if you are looking to untangle the legal aspects of your relationship with dignity and grace so that when the dust has settled, you can look back on this tricky period with some pride.
Collaboration is definitely not “taking the easy way out” as evidenced by the many complicating factors that led us to the point of no return in our long marriage. It is the best option for the right people; those who really do want to attempt to divorce with their dignity intact, maintain their values and integrity and can manage to communicate despite the obvious difficulties a marriage breakdown brings to your life. At times, the sadness and tragedy of the broken relationship was lost in the money talk which practically speaking, in the end is what the negotiations focused on.
Lawyers are like a new pair of shoes. You need to try them on & see if the style is truly yours & the fit is comfortable and works for you. If not, you are entitled to change your mind. Clarissa Rayward was a perfect fit for me as a person & my case. It was still a roller coaster ride I would much rather not have boarded, but it was my unavoidable destiny. A new chapter now begins…..
“There are far better things ahead than what we leave behind” C. S. Lewis
It's been 4 years since everything changed, but for quite some time now, life has been good. We are still a family and Lisa and I can still have a laugh and talk about the good things we shared together. The kids are growing up and I'm confident that they are happy and healthy with the way family life is.
I hope you are well and are carving out time for yourself and your family amongst all the energy and wisdom you put into your business and share with people like me.
It can be hard, under such circumstances, to see which direction to sail your ship. You are desperately trying to keep it afloat as you are bailing out and patching leaks.
I arrived in Clarissa's office sleep deprived and distraught. She was able to provide compassion and understanding, but also a calm clear process to work through the mess in front of me. I felt listened to, supported and cared for at a time when I needed it most. My questions were always discussed with openness, accounts clearly explained, concerns addressed.
Throughout, Clarissa was able to support me in navigating a sensible financial separation without becoming mired in unnecessary acrimonious (and costly) arguments.
I first met Clarissa in late October 2014. Clarissa listened to my visceral story of horrific domestic violence with compassion and a beautifully sensitive and perfectly practical response to pave a way forward. From that moment Clarissa protected me and my children through the securing of sole parental responsibility for my two children, the property orders, and finally the divorce in early October 2016.
I can appreciate that my circumstances are rare, but it is evident to me that the collaborative family law approach of Clarissa and the BFLC works in all divorce situations.
Clarissa is truly phenomenal in her expertise to negotiate with empathy while achieving the best possible outcomes.
The most accurate way I could describe Clarissa is a guardian angel for the modern world.
She will teach/help you not to sweat the the little things, which at the time dont seem so little! She will support you through the darkest of times times when you think things can get no worse or hurt any more and help to ensure that you remain true to yourself and see that there is light. Clarissa puts your family first and helps you to understand that all of this angst that you feel is simply part of the steps to get to the other end, helping you to ensure that you and your family are kept in tact.
Don't be fooled though, she has a fierce streak and will fight for you when it is needed. Her main priority though is you!! She will look at every avenue to settle your matter without having the added stress of court and help you settle your matter as mature rational people. However should the need arise to attend court she will support and guide you every step of the way. Clarissa only surrounds herself with like minded professionals, so any other person that she recommends be part of the team rest assured you will be in caring and capable hands.
Clarissa is not like any other solicitor or lawyer you have ever encountered. She is true and real. Clarissa has supported me through my darkest moments and I can honestly say that there is no other person that I would want or ask for to be in my corner. I have not one ounce of hesitation in recommending Clarissa.