With you all the way

TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK | PHOTO © KEYSER ADVOCATEN

Private matters in experienced, professional hands: Antwerp-based boutique firm Keyser advocaten specialises in family and divorce law, taking on both national as well as international cases.

From adoption to heritages, and from fatherhood to domestic violence, Keyser advocaten offers legal services in every aspect of family law with most cases involving divorce law. Their clientele comprises a mix of entrepreneurs, expats, managers and stay-at-home mums, all from different nationalities and cultural backgrounds. Services are always provided at an absolute level of excellence without sacrificing principles of integrity, keeping the case’s tremendous influence on the personal lives of clients in mind at all times.

Personal practice

Tempers run high in family matters, with clients going through important and often difficult times in their lives. “In family matters, every client is unique – from his needs and concerns to his preferences,” begins Stefanie Keyser, the firm’s senior associate and founder. “Our clients, especially in divorce matters, often go through an emotional rollercoaster. We stand by them at all times, taking strong responsibility in defending them and their reputation. Things can get tough in a court room or during negotiations, so it is important we provide a security blanket.”

Keyser advocaten is a boutique firm emphasising a close personal bond between lawyer and client, breaking with the traditional approach in Belgium where there is quite a distance between the legal professional and their client. This results in a customer-oriented approach where the lawyer listens to the client, and not the other way around. “Naturally, we guide a client through the complete process and we know which step to take next,” Keyser asserts. “However, clients know what is best for them. We are there to guide them in the right direction and prevent any miscalculated decisions.”

Because of the personal nature of cases, discussions at Keyser reach far beyond the legal field. “As a family lawyer, you must be a people’s person. We are there to hold a client’s hand, sometimes literally. One look in the courtroom can sometimes be enough for me to know what my client thinks and wants.”

International expertise

Due to ever-growing globalisation, Keyser advocaten handles a noticeably increasing amount of international divorces. “There are additional issues to consider with expat couples,” Keyser says. “The strain and stress of moving to another country can be overwhelming. Other problems are social isolation, long working hours combined with extensive travel, and the adjustment to a different country and culture.” And when international couples do decide to part, the results are often far more extensive. “International battles over child custody, confusion over which country has jurisdiction over the divorce, relocations support – those are very complicated matters. In such a case, the support of a qualified lawyer specialised in international family law can make all the difference.”

Because of the firm’s strong international focus, services are offered in three languages (English, Dutch, French) and outside office hours. Meetings with clients via Skype are held on a daily basis. “A possible time difference can mean Skyping with an international client at night. It is that kind of flexibility that is essential when adapting to a client’s needs and wishes.”

Progressive makes perfect

As the field of law is ever changing, Keyser advocaten’s team is highly involved in keeping up to date with today’s practices and is a member of several renowned law institutions (European Law Association, International Bar Associations, De Orde van Advocaten Antwerpen). Keyser herself is a frequent speaker at law conferences, an author of professional literature, and she advises several media on law-related issues.

Where the legal field in Belgium is generally known for its conservative approach, Keyser advocaten stands out as one of the country’s most progressive firms. From the accommodation, to the team, to the methods: the firm breaks down the sometimes high and intimidating barrier existing in the field of law, clearly translating legal language into a plain one. The firm holds a contemporary mindset, constantly innovating and investing in modern methods and technologies to accommodate the client in the best possible way.

Always thinking a step head, the firm provides solutions and services that make all the key difference in client’s lives. Uniquely progressive in Belgium is Keyser’s divorce planning service. Within divorce planning, an exit plan is designed beforehand to keep the client one step ahead if the decision to divorce is made. “Divorce planning is a perfect example of preparation makes perfect,” Keyser states. “If you are prepared, the outcome is much more positive.”

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