Attorney who takes cases to the heart

GOING through a divorce, a child custody dispute, or any other family law matter is a stressful experience.

GOING through a divorce, a child custody dispute, or any other family law matter is a stressful experience.

Family law and divorce can be complex and very intense, especially if there are significant assets or children involved.

Nthabiseng Monareng's goal is to take that stress off people's shoulders so they can deal with matters with cool heads.

The 31-year-old's background of more than five years in complex litigation includes a dedicated service to clients in divorce, parenting, child support, spousal abuse or child abuse, disputes involving property division and child custody, as well as visitation she also does legal marriage counselling before couples can enter into marriage.

She also holds family law workshops and training programmes for companies, groups and churches.

Monareng, who has extensive experience representing people in family law mediations, says her passion is especially in divorce.

"Divorce is the start of a new life, and although difficult, it is ultimately about empowerment. I assist both men and women to have a voice and make certain that it is heard whether through negotiation or in a divorce court."

Monareng adds that she gets fulfillment in seeing her clients move into their new future with a positive and comfortable lifestyle for themselves and their children.

Based in a small office in Dobsonville, Soweto, Monareng is a naturally caring person, and as an attorney for family law matters she takes her cases to heart.

"Too many consumers searching for a family law attorney make the mistake of the 'bigger and busier is better'. This is the farthest from the truth. The stark reality of working with the so-called 'big firms' is that you often lose the one-on-one contact with your attorney and your cases as tasks are being handed off to junior staff attorneys. These firms lack the most important element to quality representation - availability of the attorney."

Monareng says often lawyers' divorce tactics can be too aggressive and too focused on financial wins, rather than on the family and what is best for the long-term.

"As a female lawyer I understand the complexities from the women's perspective and have the ability to help both men and women with all of their divorce questions."

Monareng says the secret is to counsel each client to understand his or her wishes. Then, with the client, she forms a strategy to successfully pursue realistic goals.

Monareng, who holds an LLB degree and a number of law certificates from Wits University and other institutions, is also an author of A Simple Guide to South African Family Law, a book aimed at teaching basic legal concepts.

Monareng, who studied commercial law, got a taste of family law while working as a candidate attorney in a big firm.

"I learned compassion for people in crisis and gained insight into the plight of families in the courtroom. After a few years in the trenches I decided to put my focus on working directly with families."

Her long CV includes being a tutor at Unisa and working with the department of justice and volunteer work with a local church where she teaches people about the dangers of "vat 'n' sit" and unpacking the legal implications thereof.

Monareng recognises that the loss of a marriage affects nearly every aspect of life: emotional, financial, physical, social and spiritual.

"My goal is to help clients feel stronger and more secure when they leave my office," she says.

"Often divorce or other family law matters involving children are excellent candidates for mediation because it allows mothers and fathers to be more involved in the process and resolution of any disputes.

"Also, the process is less stressful on the children and the parents than litigation. In some cases, mediation can be mandatory.

"If your divorce decree requires mediation to resolve child custody, visitation, or other family law matters, you will be required to go through the mediation process.

"Likewise, if a judge orders mediation, you will also be required to go through the mediation process."

She says family law mediation is becoming more and more popular as an alternative dispute resolution method. Mediation is generally less expensive than litigation.

"It is faster and provides the parties an opportunity to have more input in the outcome because they are resolving issues themselves rather than a judge."