Divorce, perimenopause and menopause with Farhana Shahzady

Farhana is an accredited family law specialist and mediator working with Family Law Partners in London. During her 20-year career, Farhana often noticed an unspoken element at play when helping women through divorce, but it wasn’t until she identified perimenopause within her peer group and those close to her that she appreciated the extent of the problem and was able to professionally decipher the impact of menopause on relationship breakdown. Farhana launched the Family Law Menopause Project to see whether any other colleagues in family law were factoring in this important element and to raise awareness of perimenopause and menopause when it comes to family cases dealing with divorce, splitting the assets, children issues or domestic abuse.

Farhana’s tips for family lawyers:

  1. Listen, enquire, and communicate. Look for cues and don’t be afraid to ask questions
  2. If you think a client is experiencing peri/menopausal symptoms affecting their relationships and wellbeing, invite them to see their doctor
  3. Factor the menopause into your cases. Pick a family process that suits the client, for example arbitration or mediation, and be sympathetic.

Visit Farhana’s family law practice at www.familylawpartners.co.uk

Follow Farhana on Twitter at @ShahzadyLaw or @LawMenopause and @LawMenopause on Instagram

Podcast Transcript:

Dr Louise Newson [00:00:09] Hello. I’m Dr. Louise Newson and welcome to my podcast. I’m a GP and menopause specialist and I run the Newson Health Menopause and Wellbeing Centre here in Stratford upon Avon. I’m also the founder of The Menopause Charity and the menopause support app called balance. On the podcast, I will be joined each week by an exciting guest to help provide evidence, based information and advice about both the perimenopause and the menopause.

Dr Louise Newson [00:00:46] So today in the studio, I’m very delighted to introduce to you someone I’ve recently connected with and doing a huge amount of work actually, which is very exciting. So she’s called Farhana Shahzady and she’s a lawyer and has a keen interest in the menopause for lots of reasons. So welcome today and thanks for joining me.

Farhana Shahzady [00:01:04] Oh, Louise, it’s a real pleasure to join you. When I speak to you, I feel really inspired. So I could divulge everything to you as well. It must be something that a GP has, like a priest, I want to tell you about…

Dr Louise Newson [00:01:15] Oh, no, that’s great. You know, it’s such a privilege being a doctor. And I always say to my husband, we have the best jobs and to be a confidante to so many people. And the other thing I really enjoy is that I see and speak to people I would never speak to in other walks of life as a doctor. The number of patients I’ve seen, the stories that I could or shouldn’t divulge sometimes is quite amazing, actually. And as you know, every connection you have with people, you just learn from, don’t you? And I think when you’re a teenager, you think you can rule the world. And I think, gosh, how naive I was I, 30 or 40 years ago?

Farhana Shahzady [00:01:50] No, absolutely. I think the sad thing for doctors, unlike lawyers, in fact, is that you have very limited time. Your lists are very, very full. So I’ve read on average GPs get 9 minutes with each of their patients. The privilege of being a lawyer is, is that in fact clients do tell us a great deal as well and we triage. But we can spend an hour, I can spend an hour and a half with my clients, but in fact, that’s why I think menopause and family law hasn’t been readily discussed. It hasn’t been, I see clients but I don’t talk about menopause. And so that’s why I came to this particular line of work in this particular project, because I was concerned about that as I grew older as well.

Dr Louise Newson [00:02:28] Yeah, it’s very interesting. So when I reflect my time in hospital medicine, actually I did have more time because you’re not pressurised as much. Often outpatients are longer. When you’re doing ward rounds, you can actually spend quite a long time sometimes with patients. But menopause wasn’t on my radar, so I neglected a lot of women. And then as a general practitioner, I was very lucky because I worked in the same practice for 20 years. So I did get to know my patients really well. But you only have snippets of like you say 8/9 minutes, and then you’re sort of changing and moving to other conversations next time you see them. But when I started to do menopause work, I realised that I could do it, but usually in two or three consultations. So the beauty, I’m very privileged now that I have around 20/30 minutes with my patients and then I get to know them really well. And it’s sometimes the little things that they don’t want to bother a doctor with that are the most important things actually. And we know that a lot of women see the menopause as a natural phenomenon. And for most of us, it’s because we age. But actually it doesn’t mean it’s natural. It’s not natural to live without our hormones, and it’s not natural to live until we’re 80. So people don’t want to talk to the doctor sometimes about the menopause. And some of the work we’re doing, we’re realising that people talk more in the workplace, they talk more to their friends, they talk more on social media, or they might talk more to a nurse or pharmacist. So when you connected me about your work, I thought actually, I’ve never thought about, you know, lawyers that having more time and people divulging, especially when they’re coming to you, difficult crisis situations when their relationships are broken down. And we know that menopause is a trigger for relationships breaking down. So how did you get into thinking about the menopause?

Farhana Shahzady [00:04:13] Well, I’ve been practicing for 20 years. And so over that long period of time, I’ve accumulated a lot of anecdotal knowledge about relationship breakdown and divorce. And in recent years, I’ve trained as a mediator as well. And I think – I hope I’m right in thinking that family law has started to evolve. So it used to be quite litigious. So lawyers are equated with court battles and we have, I think, evolved into trying to problem-solve and deal with disputes so it never enters into court. And I’m very privileged because I work at a firm called Family Law Partners and at my particular practice, the client journey is paramount. That’s what we’re interested in. So we might use litigation, go to court if we need to, but mediation, we have arbitration available. We also have a new scheme which is to help two clients who want to see us together, and we’ll try as a team to resolve their dispute. That’s really uncommon Louise, that’s really quite new because typically, lawyers deal with one client at a time, but we can see couples. But as part of my journey, I realised maybe about five or six years ago, which probably reflects my personal journey, that there was something going wrong for some of my wives and we’d end up in court battling away at something. But I felt it was real discomfort for them. I felt there was something that wasn’t being discussed, but I couldn’t figure it out because I hadn’t reached that point myself. So maybe in the last three or four years, as I’ve changed – and I squarely identify as being perimenopausal – I can see that for some of my clients, that’s similar to how they must feel. But we don’t ask them, Louise. I typically don’t ask. My peers haven’t. As a professional we haven’t asked. So I decided to launch the Family Law Menopause Project to see what my colleagues were doing and to try and raise awareness of menopause and perimenopause. And the results through the survey was quite small. I thought the results were quite startling, and what it really showed was that 81% of family lawyers identified with the fact that they weren’t asking their clients and they didn’t know anything about it, and they didn’t factor the perimenopause and menopause into their work. So that’s quite clear. 60% of family lawyers didn’t think lawyers would discuss menopause or perimenopause with them. And for me, what was very interesting is 65% of lawyers felt that there was a financial prejudice for wives because of menopause. And this for me is my…

Dr Louise Newson [00:06:38] Huge, isn’t it, 65. So that’s the majority.

Farhana Shahzady [00:06:41] Yeah. And I won’t tell you about the intricacies of family law and how it works financially in terms of split, but it’s probably safe to say that there has been a culture of a clean break. So the aim of the court is to separate financially people, couples as they split. But actually, for a menopausal woman or a perimenopause woman, we know from the symptoms that, Louise, you speak so eloquently about that it has a major impact on not only their health, but their work.

Dr Louise Newson [00:07:09] Yes.

Farhana Shahzady [00:07:09] And I hope we can talk about some of the statistics around work and how it affects their relationships. But it means they probably won’t achieve a clean break. So will a woman who has left her work or hasn’t been in work for a number of years, rehabilitate sufficiently to have an income that will support her? And very often children as well, because she may have children, teenage children. I think it’s a very big ask and I think that’s what I identify with some of my clients is that women have had a clean break or had very limited maintenance and they won’t financially survive very well. And there are poverty statistics for women, that I hope we can talk about. So it’s a constellation of issues and I think the convergence of divorce and menopause is pretty toxic.

Dr Louise Newson [00:07:55] Yes. And I hadn’t realised quite how bad it was until I opened my clinic and started to see any hundreds and now thousands of women. And some of them have come because they’ve been to relate and a relate counsellor or they’ve had some marriage guidance and somebody has said, have you thought about the menopause? And why, you know, and then I did some quite large work with West Midlands Fire Brigade and it’s very male dominated and a lot of those men were talking about how their partners had really changed and they weren’t the women that they married and they didn’t know what was going on. And if they mention the hormones and it often caused a bit of an argument and discussed almost – this was a few years ago when menopause was less spoken about. But I find it really sad. I’ve got no idea the percentage of marriages that break down or relationships that fail because of the perimenopause or menopause. And I think we’ll never know because so many times the perimenopause or menopause isn’t diagnosed. And what’s really interesting talking to you and your colleagues is how you’re saying about we don’t ask about the perimenopause or menopause, but actually why should you really? Because what about hypothyroidism or clinical depression? You’re not clinicians. So I feel because we fail often so much as clinicians with the menopause, we know that the minority of women receive treatment, despite NICE guidance showing us that the majority of women would benefit from HRT. There’s a huge number of – in fact we know there’s millions of women out there – who are needlessly suffering because of inadequate menopause care and treatment. So it’s left to people like you who are feeling bad that you’re not asking about the menopause. And I feel that’s a real injustice to women, actually. And it’s putting pressure on your work, whereas actually, you shouldn’t be seeing women who are suffering when there is treatment available, if that makes sense.

Farhana Shahzady [00:09:46] No, it does make perfect sense. But I suspect, Louise, that we family lawyers see those wives before you see them. Yes. And I think the reason for that is, is that whilst there’s going to be further research, and I know we’re going to be doing some work together to see if we can have a look at some of the trends of divorce and menopause that there is clearly, in my mind, a convergence between the two. And you’ve spoken about some of the health difficulties and, you know, issues with sex. So actually, I do talk about sex with some of my clients and I know the statistics which say that for menopausal / perimenopausal women, 51% describe how there’s difficulties with sex with their spouse or their partner, and that they don’t feel very sexy. And I find in practice, many of the divorce petitions I’ve done over the previous 20 years have been based on no physical intimacy with their partner, issues to do with communication as well. Now communication is an interesting issue because that is the bedrock of a successful marriage or relationship isn’t it? I’m sure, Louise, you’ll be able to tell me how actually communication can become very strained due to perimenopause and menopause. You know, the psychological buffeting, the physical buffeting. You know, the sleep problems, the aches, the pains. It must have a massive impact on the ability to discuss matters.

Dr Louise Newson [00:11:06] It absolutely does. And the psychological impact of the menopause is huge. And a lot of women have symptoms such as just feeling very low and flat, but they have reduced self-worth. They have low self-esteem. They feel very vulnerable. They have often crippling anxiety. You know, I speak to a lot of women who say that their anxiety has gone through the roof, so they don’t even want to pack a suitcase if they’re going on holiday or they don’t want to drive the car. They’re too worried about using a bus or going on the tube. And so just day to day living can be really quite difficult for them. And that’s very difficult if they’re the person that’s taking their children to school or, you know, packing for a holiday that everyone’s looked forward to for a whole year. And it sounds very trivial doesn’t it mean to worry to pack a suitcase? But actually that is a problem. And, you know, I know when I was perimenopausal, I kept forgetting to pack the right things for my children in their school bags because I’d often put the wrong, you know, things in the wrong bags. Or I wouldn’t pack their sports stuff. And, you know, that has a real impact on the children. And they come home, well, they’ll say, ‘Mummy, I’ve told you already that I am going to such and such for tea’ and I’ve completely forgotten. So then my husband is going ‘Do you not listen? Is that because you’re working too hard? Why are you not listening to your children?’. And you can see – and then he was annoying me because just his breathing was annoying me, his presence was annoying me because I was an irritable, crotchety menopausal women. But I didn’t know what was going on. I just thought I was working too hard. And that’s me as a menopause specialist. So – and I adore my husband, we’ve never argued before other than those few months when I was struggling with my hormones. But if I was in a toxic relationship, if I did have no support and very little education and didn’t speak English, maybe as my first language, then how on earth am I going to find out that it’s my hormones? I’d think it’s just me. And, you know, then we look at domestic abuse as, you know, increases during the perimenopause and a lot of people who are abused, either physically or psychologically, have this feeling that they deserve to be abused. And there’s this cycle that goes on. And if they have got feelings of reduced self-worth, lower self-esteem, and then they’re abused, they say, ‘Well, that’s what I deserve to be like that because I’m such a failure and I fail at everything. And now I failed in my relationship, but I don’t expect any more’. And I hear these stories all the time in my clinic and I think, hang on a minute, you’re only 45. You’re telling me you still love your husband, but your relationship’s failed? Do not make a decision. Let’s treat your menopause and see what happens to your relationship. And I’ve saved so many relationships, but I only see the tip of the iceberg. And that’s really tragic for both sides, isn’t it?

Farhana Shahzady [00:13:39] Absolutely is. And you see my job as a family lawyer and the job of my colleagues is to try and understand these issues. So I’m not sure we have a get out of jail card because I think with awareness, which Louise you and your clinicians and, you know, some really excellent experts in this field now have helped us to understand the issues. And actually, if you stand back and look at it, of course, it makes perfect sense. If you have the level of issues physically and mentally at a particular period in your life due to hormonal deficiency, it’s going to have an impact on everything – work relationships, your relationships, the home, children, spouse and on your health. And I do expect family lawyers to triage. We don’t have the answers, of course we don’t. But what we should be able to do – because most lawyers work in a multidisciplinary way – is to say to our clients, actually, there are some issues you may want to see your GP. Now I know GPs don’t always have the answer, but there are some experts, maybe that’s something you should consider. But we I think as lawyers we have to understand it because how we develop our case will depend on the resilience of the client we have in front of us. So we have to be aware of this issue. Wellbeing has become an issue for many lawyers and for people generally. We are aware of wellbeing. We have to be aware of menopause. I think one of the problems is, is that divorce is considered the second most stressful life event and I think divorce camouflages menopause. And the assumption that we make as professionals is that it’s a divorce which is upsetting our client. So I often tell my client ‘Once the divorce is over, you will feel a whole lot better’. And I have told clients, ‘Why don’t you go and see your GP? There may be antidepressants available or there will be some talking therapy available, but actually it may not just be depression, it could be menopause’. And I think the coincidence of divorce, 45 to 55, that’s the rate, the highest, the peak area and perimenopause and menopause 45 to 55. Let’s say, that’s a correlation for sure.

Dr Louise Newson [00:15:49] Yeah, absolutely. And I think anything that happens in the forties, whether it’s divorce, whether it’s depression, whether it’s an autoimmune disease, whether it’s, you know, migraines, any condition that is affecting women in these ages. I really feel we have to think about hormones first. And I often say to women, I have no idea whether, you know, your symptoms are due to the perimenopause or menopause or not because there’s no diagnostic tests. But I do know there are benefits to taking HRT, including to your future health. So let’s try some HRT and then see what happens. And you know, I’ve saved a lot of careers actually by giving women, HRT, women who I remember years ago, I saw a lawyer and she said, ‘It’s just like the shutters have come down. I cannot think, I cannot remember and I just cannot work. It’s just not safe’. And it taken her a lot of time to make the decision to stop work. And I said, ‘Well, hang on a minute, let’s just see’. And she was off work sick anyway with anxiety, which clearly was related to her menopause. And actually doesn’t take long to improve. And then if she didn’t improve, then there’s always options for, like you say, other treatment as well. But we did a survey, I’m sure you’re aware of it, and this was for NHS Workforce and we had over 1200 respondents and this is anybody who works in the NHS and there were lots of really sad and shocking statistics, but one of them that came out was that 37% had considered reducing their hours, but they weren’t financially able to do so and that’s a huge number of people. So we know that women are struggling at work and we know we’ve got some stats, haven’t we, around 10% of women give up work. But what are those women who are really struggling at work and not doing the job that they want to do and also not the job they’re capable of doing? We know lots of people are going for promotion or they’re reducing their hours and that’s a real problem because we’ve got this stagnant workforce as well, haven’t we, who are not reaching.. and this gender pay gap we know is always there. But the more I look at it, I realise that actually it’s because I’m sure a lot of it is because of the perimenopause and menopause. And then that puts a lot more financial pressure on a relationship, doesn’t it? If maybe you’ve been the major breadwinner in your family as a woman and then you’re not earning, then that’s going to affect your relationship as well, isn’t it?

Farhana Shahzady [00:18:08] Well, absolutely. I think it’s probably not unfair to say that menopause and divorce [are] passports [to] poverty for women. And I think there are some clear statistics coming through on that. And as I looked at it on divorce, there’s research, I think it was by Legal and General, showing that 74% of men are the main breadwinners. So as you’re into the menopause / divorce, 74% of men are the breadwinners. That means women have slightly more ancillary roles work wise, so part time hours, zero hour contracts. So already financially are more in financial difficulty and much more ancillary to men. Then moving on to pension savings, there is some reporting that women, divorced women between the age bracket of I think it’s about 64 have one fifth of the pension wealth of men. That’s quite startling. So then women have to rely on state pension or state benefits, all of which make for, you know, a very difficult time. So I think you have divorce, you have menopause, and then you have poverty. And so, it’s so important to see if we can unravel at least the menopause part. I’m not sure we’ll save marriages, because by the time people come to divorce lawyers, they are on the path of divorce, I think. Occasionally you can save a marriage, but I think what you do want to make sure is that you are treating women appropriately and whether that’s HRT and that probably is the gold standard treatment in my view, I think that would help 90% of women, there may be another group of women who need something different, but then you might save their work. So you’re right, one in ten women leaving work, 25% of women thinking of leaving work, and lots and lots of women who are working, having actually quite a small income. And actually, if you have quite a small income, you can’t actually make pension savings because you’re just meeting your basic needs. And so it’s a domino effect. And I think that’s really what I’m interested in is come on, let’s have a look at this menopause, divorce. Let’s look at the financial aspects and the domino effect which then arise.

Dr Louise Newson [00:20:13] Yeah, and you know, you’re doing some amazing work in this area, but I feel like it’s just the start because there aren’t many lawyers like you who have really got it on their radar or their agenda, have they?

Farhana Shahzady [00:20:23] I’ve spoken to some prominent lawyers. I’m actually interested, it’s a female profession. Family law is quite female and some of the prominent females I’ve spoken to don’t want to have this discussion. So, you know, there is a whole dialogue about feminism and what it means to be a woman who’s flagging up that she’s having difficulty – ‘cause senior women don’t want to flag that up. Whereas I actually think it’s a problem which if flagged up, can be ameliorated. Because I think, Louise, I belong in your camp, which is to say there are treatments and let’s try and find these treatments. I’m not saying the treatments are an instant fix, but it is a road to recovery. It is a road to understanding yourself and a road to perhaps, understanding relationships. Because actually it’s not just divorce, which is interesting. Cohabitation might be very interesting when cohabiting couples split, but also the number of single women is something like 8 million women who are single, between 45 to, I don’t know, 55. There’s a lot of single women. And why are they single? Is there something that would help them to re-form relationships? So I’m interested in divorce, but I’m also interested in how can we improve relationships anyway.

Dr Louise Newson [00:21:31] Yeah, and I think that’s very important because actually I’ve also spoken to a lot of women who’ve been my patients who’ve thanked me because I’ve helped their divorce, because they’ve never had the confidence to leave their partner and they’ve just said, ‘Well, we’ve drifted into this relationship. We’re not the same as we used to be 20, 30 years ago but I just thought, this is me, but now I’ve got the confidence. I realise that I absolutely don’t love him’. And in fact, one lady said to me, it’s all my fault that her relationship is broken down because she’d had an affair with someone. She said, ‘I had the best sex ever that night and it made me realise that there’s more to me than just being tied to my apron strings to my husband who wants me at home the whole time’. And I felt really bad. But she because her libido and everything had improved with her HRT, but she said, ‘No, it’s given me this liberty and freedom to recognise who I am. And you know, I’m only 48. I’ve got hopefully a few decades ahead to absolutely change and realise that my husband is just not the person I want to be with and I’m really grateful for you for that’. And so it’s very interesting actually. And I think it’s also, you know, a lot of the work I’m doing is about female empowerment and women just being able to make choices. And I think a lot of women, when they haven’t got the hormones, that those choices are taken away because they don’t feel physically or mentally able to. And so it’s really important –and we’re talking here, you know, obviously about relationships, but there’s also a lot of women who are in same sex relationships – and if they’re the same age and both of them are perimenopausal and menopausal, I think that has just different dynamics, actually, that have never really been explored or spoken about before. And that’s really important that that’s acknowledged and addressed as well, isn’t it, in the work that you’re doing?

Farhana Shahzady [00:23:14] Oh, no, absolutely. I think statistics on same sex relationships between actually female-female and in fact, even men and men, would be quite interesting to compare and contrast. Oh, for sure. I think I believe that with women at least, I think there is a communication style which power and understanding or an empathy of female issues, which is perhaps better tolerated and better understood. But I yes, that is going to be very, very volatile. I think there is a real constellation of issues that you’re right we have to unpick in family law, you’ve touched on domestic abuse, but there’s family law in children issues because a lot of the work I deal with is on separation and contact arrangements, child arrangements. And I think my feeling is there is a tendency for women to use children almost as a life raft because it gives them identity and comfort and they want to hang on to their children, which makes it very difficult for the fathers to negotiate contact arrangements. So that’s an issue. You’ve talked about domestic abuse. I think coercive control, in particular control of money for older women is a very pernicious element. And some of the work that family lawyers have to deal with, even things like prenuptial, this is growth in the prenuptial market. And prenups don’t contemplate menopause as part of you know, is that a vitiating factor? How do we deal with menopause and how do we split finances? But for me, I think a lot of worry for women will not only be the loss of their spouse and husband and end of a marriage, it is the financial matrix and how they’re financially going to survive. And I think that’s where I hope other family lawyers will pay attention. There are remedies in law, but actually some of them are unattractive. Louise, you I know you’ve discussed matters with employment lawyers. So what employment lawyers are doing is to characterise menopause as disability. And they are using the Equality Act, part six of the Equality Act, and saying, well menopause is a disability and it’s discrimination to let women go on the basis of that disability. Now, family lawyers may have to do something similar. We may have to say to the court, this woman has a disability. It affects her ability to earn. Therefore, please give her better financial awards. But I don’t know how you feel about that because it’s not exactly a disability, either.

Dr Louise Newson [00:25:31] It’s very hard and I find it quite distressing actually, because menopause can fulfil the criteria for a disability for many women, but actually it’s a disability that has treatment and I would not want to label anyone as disabled for the menopause unless they were given treatment. And when I say treatment is holistic treatment that’s individualised so often does include hormones, but it does include, you know, lifestyle and everything else as well. But more importantly, it includes education. And, you know, we know as you know, people who even use the app find that their mental health, physical health improves and that’s without treatment. Actually, from a healthcare professional, it’s because they know what’s going on and they understand what’s happening to their body. So I feel that you don’t want to quickly label women as disabled when there’s a treatable cause, because that’s a big thing to do, actually. But, you know, people are struggling so much for that treatment. So we’re doing a survey aren’t we which we’ve launched already, which will be very interesting to see the results of it. Do you want to just mention a bit about the survey?

Farhana Shahzady [00:26:33] No, absolutely. I’d surveyed lawyers before, but actually the interesting survey is the survey of clients. You know, my clients, your patients, Louise, who have the interface between menopause and divorce and separation and what I would like to understand, or we would like to understand, is did they consider treatment pathways to try and ameliorate symptoms? If not that, did they discuss it with their lawyer? Importantly, did their lawyer discuss it with them? And how did they find the experience of law, you know, dealing with complicated legal concepts? How difficult must that be? I think it’s difficult for anyone, let alone someone going through a hormonal deficiency and some quite life changing experiences. How do they deal with a litigation experience? To litigate and to stand and to give witness evidence is an incredibly hard thing to do. So we are going to try and look at all of that and to hopefully see the statistics, see the data which arises, and hopefully use that to help fashion or create a process in family law, at least, which is slightly kinder to this particular group of women. And I think from your point of view, I hope actually doctors and lawyers work together more closely. I would like to be able to send clients to menopause experts to say, actually, there are treatment pathways available. I think women don’t want to feel helpless.

Dr Louise Newson [00:27:49] Yeah, absolutely. And it’s really crucial. Some of the work I’m doing with NHS England and the Government will hopefully improve that as we have more training and education and more menopause clinics available because that’s really, really important that women have access to treatment wherever they are and whoever they are as well. So there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. We absolutely need to have you back and discuss the results of the survey and what we’re doing going forward. So watch this space really for those that are listening. So before we finish, I’d be really keen to have three take home tips actually. So I think for actually I might ask if you don’t mind, what lawyers could do actually. I often say what women could do, but I might spin it on its head a bit and just ask what lawyers who are working in family law, what could they do that would actually quite often help women and even couples that are going through divorce and stressful situations?

Farhana Shahzady [00:28:45] Yeah, for sure. I think key, a key to everything, whether you’re a client in fact, or a lawyer, is to listen and enquire, communicate. And if a family lawyer can’t do that very well, I’m not sure, you know, I’d have concerns, actually and look for cues. Sometimes you just have to look for it. And my firm, at Family Law Partners, we have an onboarding tool in fact, it’s called ENGAGE. But it asks the question quite straightforwardly, quite early on. And I think that facilitates a discussion and it makes the client feel that they can talk about it and should talk about it. I think it should become second nature. If I can talk about sex with my clients, I should be able to talk about menopause. I think lawyers also, if they feel that is an issue that has, bears upon their practice and what the work they’re going to do, they should triage and signpost. And if that means saying to the client, please discuss it with the doctor, discuss it with a specialist, then I think that’s really essential. We have a privileged role. We do work in a multidisciplinary way. I send people to see tax accountants, estate agents, company experts. I think this is key. I’d like to send them to doctors. Maybe as a third tip. I would like lawyers, lawyers like me to factor menopause into their cases. And one way of doing this is to make sure we pick a process, a family process that suits the client. So instead of litigation, maybe we have to consider mediation or arbitration because those are slightly kind of processes and that can save the client from having to give evidence in a particular way, having to deal with some of the complexities that might arise from giving evidence in court. So it is just to be sympathetic and sensitive.

Dr Louise Newson [00:30:24] Yeah. And it’s starting that conversation I think so important, isn’t it? And actually the more I speak to women, the more grateful they are that people bring up menopause in times that they’re not expecting it. So it’s not just saved for clinical consultation. So it’s amazing the work that you’re doing and I look forward to seeing how it goes going forward. So thanks so much for your time today.

Farhana Shahzady [00:30:45] Thanks Louise, it’s been a privilege.

Dr Louise Newson [00:30:49] For more information about the perimenopause and menopause, please visit my website balance-menopause.com. Or you can download the free balance app which is available to download from the App Store or from Google Play.

END

Divorce, perimenopause and menopause with Farhana Shahzady

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