Newsroom / News / Media / Info Magazine LGP NEWS 01/2022 / Family and inheritance law as a legal challenge

Family and inheritance law as a legal challenge

Family and inheritance law as a legal challenge

Julia Andras, attorney-at-law and managing partner, and Andreea Muresan, associate, are the contacts at LGP for all matters relating to family and inheritance law. In the following interview, our experts explain why it is important to know your own rights and obligations and why legal advice in this field requires a particularly high degree of empathy. 

You lead the practice group for family and inheritance law. How did you come to specialise in these areas? 

Julia Andras: I became involved with family and inheritance law very early on in my legal career at LGP. These two areas require you to work very close to your clients and, by providing targeted legal support, you can have a direct influence on what the lives of the people seeking advice from you look like in the future. This entails a great deal of responsibility, but if you get it right, you can literally move mountains. 

Andreea Muresan: Already during my studies, and most recently during my preparation for the bar exam, I dealt in great depth with the complex areas of family and inheritance law. The resulting legal issues interest me from a legal point of view, on the one hand, and on the other hand because this is a field in which you can help your clients the most. The close personal cooperation with our clients and the opportunity to turn the tide in sometimes hopeless situations were certainly decisive factors in my decision to specialise in this area. 

What are the main focal points, and which cases occur most frequently in practice? 

Andras: We advise clients on every aspect of family and inheritance law. Currently, there is an increase in divorces. This means right now we have a lot of enquiries in this direction. However, all kinds of questions concerning the right of contact, custody and the maintenance of minor children are absolute perennial issues which repeatedly confront many families with seemingly unsolvable problems... 

Muresan: Lots of clients also contact us when it comes to drawing up a prenuptial agreement, how best to provide for old age or how to handle an inheritance in a legally compliant manner. Whenever close family relationships and monetary interests cross paths, conflicts are unfortunately soon to follow. As a result, it is advisable to consult an experienced legal advisor in good time so that any problems that may arise down the road can be identified and avoided in advance. 

What sense of achievement does your work give you? When do you consider a case to be successfully completed? 

Andras: There are lots of examples, I can’t even list them all now. In the area of family and inheritance law, at the end of the day, it is not about being right or getting it right, but about solving family problems in such a way that the people involved still find a way to coexist as a family (even if it has been separated by divorce, for example) or at least amicably. 

This is particularly important because the children involved always suffer the most from a situation shaped by separation. Every separation or divorce, no matter how amicable, has a lasting and negative effect on a child’s psyche, and that’s because children automatically get drawn into a conflict of loyalties when their parents separate. 

Apart from blaming themselves for the separation of their parents, they feel guilty towards their mother if they love their father, and vice versa. This leads to an almost insoluble conflict in the child’s psyche, and, as a result, the most important task of parents in the course of a separation or divorce is to prevent this conflict from occurring in the first place or, if it does exist, to resolve it as quickly as possible. This also requires a legal counsel who is as empathetic as they can be and who does not just stubbornly insist on their rights. 

Muresan: If our work lets us help clients, who are often faced with their marriages and their entire existence in tatters, to find a new way to clean up this mess and shape their new lives as smoothly as possible, especially after a separation/divorce, then that is worth an extremely great deal. Very often, clients bear such a heavy psychological burden as a result of these exceptional emotional situations that they lose sight of what is actually important. This is where the help and prudent, as well as empathetic, support of a legal counsel is needed to direct the focus back to the essentials and to lead the client back to the light as quickly as possible. 

Are there situations in the area of family law that are unsolvable? Or put another way: when are even the best lawyer’s hands tied? 

Andras: It happens rarely, but nevertheless it does, that we represent cases in which we, unfortunately, find that it is not enough for the legal counsel alone to act empathetically: the involvement of the spouses and especially parents involved is inevitable in such situations. However, some clients are so driven by their pain and emotion that, even with our help, they are unable to see what is important and no longer realise that the ones suffering from the conflict and their actions are ultimately their children. 

Muresan: It is our task as responsible lawyers not to take advantage of the client’s emotional state, which is often a state of great distress, and at the same time also to recognise that some conflicts cannot be resolved, especially when the parties involved have no interest at all in bringing conflicts to a peaceful end. In these (fortunately very rare) cases, we have to part ways with our client. It certainly takes a great sense of responsibility to take such a final step. 

You recently started a media cooperation with the daily newspaper Der Standard. What can you tell us about that? 

Andras: In the course of our work, we are constantly dealing with current decisions of the Supreme Court. In order to make the contents more accessible to those concerned and to a broad readership, we were given the opportunity to publish our own blog for family law through a cooperation with the daily newspaper Der Standard. Our first posts are already online. 

Muresan: The first two decisions of the Supreme Court dealt with the question whether the development of a mental health impairment with pathological significance due to an unlawful removal of a child by the Youth Welfare Office justifies a claim for damages for pain and suffering. We also examined whether the fact that an adult child lives in their own apartment should be taken into account to reduce maintenance. We are very pleased about this new opportunity to make relevant decisions of the Supreme Court accessible to a broad readership and to present them in a simple and understandable way. 

Since most legal questions concerning family and inheritance law have to be answered on a case-by-case basis, it often pays to seek the advice of experienced legal counsel before costly and lengthy proceedings are initiated. It is precisely in these specific cases that our team is always at your disposal. 


INTERVIEW PARTNERS:

Dr. Julia Andras, Attorney-at-Law and Managing Partner at LGP
Mag. Andreea Muresan, Associate at LGP

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