Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Monster-in-Law



I have just returned from Cuba. Our guide could hardly have been more knowledgeable and was generally able to answer all our questions. He explained that not only do Cubans invariably work in the place where they are brought up but they also continue to live with their parents even after marriage. Tradition dictates that daughters and their husbands live with her parents rather than his.

I enquired about divorce and was informed that, “It happens and there is lots of it, it’s the mother-in-law you see.”

In case I hadn’t understood the extent of the problem he then added, “In Cuba we call her the monster-in-law!”


Saturday, 22 November 2014

The Standardisation of English



I have been reading about life in Medieval England lately. In the course of so doing I understand much better the part the development of the printing press played in standardising the English language. How, for instance, “ye” became the the spelling for “the” and how the use of an abbreviation like “&” for “et” in the middle of a word was dropped.

Of course I went to school when rules on the use of the English language were tediously drummed into you and there was no scope for deviation. Any errors resulted in red lines in exercise books and the need to write out corrections ten times.

Recent generations of school pupils have been spared the pedantic insistence on subservience to the rules of spelling and grammar. However, in family proceedings the drafting of court documents, solicitors’ letters, laws and regulations all require the precise application of those rules. Occasionally, there can be a mismatch between what a lawyer thinks he has dictated and what he receives to check and sign.

In recent years, therefore, I have been treated to such gems as:
Baristas going into court (presumably to make coffee for the Judge);
Ships birthing (maybe that’s how baby boats are delivered);
Illicit information (when eliciting information was required);
Pecking knees (referring to a dog that sounded like a chicken with bandy legs perhaps).

My personal favourite of all time, however, was:
Higher perches (to finance the car not to provide a seat with a view for the budgerigar).


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Gone Girl



Both Little Girl and Apprentice Man have recommended that I read "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn. I confess that I have chickened out and have been to see the film, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, instead.

Of course the title "Gone Girl" could allude to any separated wife but in this case the plot is more sinister. I shall not divulge it here so as to spoil it for anyone who has yet to read the book or see the film. 

Suffice to say that my sympathies instinctively rested with the lawyer who goes under the wonderful name of Tanner Bolt. He also had one of the best lines in the script when he comments: "You two are the most f****d-up people I've ever met, and I deal with f****d-up people for a living"

Thankfully I never came out with that one during my years in practice.


Friday, 7 November 2014

Heard it on the Radio



One of the best things about retirement is that I get to listen to the radio at times when previously I would have been at my office desk.

I am always amazed at the information you can pick up about divorce.

Indeed in recent weeks I have learnt that censuses in the USA show divorce as most common amongst those following arty type occupations such as dancers, actors, poets and artists.  At the other end of the spectrum those least likely to divorce are engineers and scientists. I could speculate on the reason for this but, as Outdoor Man is an engineer, think I’ll play safe and stay silent!

I also heard repeated that old chestnut that the average person has a longer relationship with their bank manager than their partner. In this day and age, I do find that a strange one; who actually meets their bank manager in person these days? Or perhaps that’s the secret to a successful relationship: keep it on-line.


Finally I was told that the average divorce costs £44,000. That’s not the lawyers’ fees by the way; they are factored in at just less than £1300 each. Instead the sum represents the amount spent by both spouses in setting up their separate lives and which, as well as the legal fees, includes the expenses for setting up a new home, purchasing clothes and jewellery, taking up new hobbies, joining a gym, acquiring dating club membership, cosmetic surgery and life coaching or therapy. Far be it for me to point out where savings could be made, but I am sure strong views will be expressed by the ex about any nose job.


Saturday, 1 November 2014

Calones



Calones, as I recently learnt from an article about life on the frontier at Hadrian’s Wall, were the slaves of soldiers, one of the lowest forms of life in the Roman Empire.

Horace was a Roman poet responsible for many satirical poems in which he criticised and poked fun at Roman society, trying to persuade his audience to moderate their desires in order to live a happier life. He appears to have had little sympathy with those seeking sexual adventures especially of the extra-marital variety. Indeed he warned adulterers that they would not simply be condemned to eternal damnation but, in the course of their unending after-life, be forever urinated upon by calones.

Yuk!




Thursday, 23 October 2014

De Feet



Shoes – objects of adoration and much satisfaction for so many women, with colours and styles for all occasions. Regardless of the bunions, posture problems and general aches and pains, the higher the heel the better.

Sometimes the collection grows so much that storage can become an issue. As a result there has been a boom in recent times of shoe racks and storage systems.

Does your husband know how many pairs you actually own or is it a retail therapy secret?

Would you consider putting distance between you and your collection by storing them in a house in a foreign country where you neither lived nor had any intention to reside permanently?

I ask only because last week newspapers carried reports of a court case in which the chairman of Laura Ashley tried to prevent his wife succeeding with her assertion that her divorce case should be heard in England. He argued that she does not intend to dwell here. His wife, however, was able to adduce evidence, including of a thousand pairs of shoes (admittedly the Judge thought she was exaggerating), as a demonstration of her intention to remain in this country.

Although the husband clearly believed the wife’s argument was cobblers, the Court found in her favour. 


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Worry Beads


Outdoor Man and I have recently returned from a trip to Greece during which we travelled back from the island of Paxos by speedboat.

The skipper and his only crew member talked animatedly the whole of the journey, repeatedly jabbing their fingers in the direction of the coastline and it would appear (although I don’t speak Greek) discussing the best route to follow.

None of this would of course have held much interest for me except that bouncing across the waves, I could not help but notice that they anxiously clicked worry beads through their fingers.

In circumstances where these beads are intended to guard against bad luck it would be tempting to think that it was a result of the amber pieces being hit against each other than we navigated safely back to shore. I was even told that in Greece there is a worry bead ritual for bridegrooms to follow on the night before their wedding.


Perhaps there are times when we should all have a set to help find our way through troubled waters.


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Inequality


I am sure that I have referred before in this blog to divorce leaving one party (usually the husband) feeling that has had to pay too much to the other party (usually the wife) and who in turn feels that she has received too little.

English divorce law is based on a concept of fairness and although this is measured against a yardstick of equality it does not automatically mean that assets are divided equally. In other words an unequal division can and invariably will be a fair outcome for the divorcing couple.

How so?

In many relationships the household may have depended on one partner (frequently but not always the husband) to work long hours to earn the money that has provided the home and other essentials for the family. The other partner (often the wife) may have given up a career, reduced her hours or prospects of advancement in order to care for children and the home, as well perhaps as moving from place to place in order to accompany the husband as he moves up the corporate ladder.
Post-divorce, rarely therefore will the dependent spouse have the earning capacity of the primary breadwinner. Unless assets are redistributed in unequal shares there may be unfairness.

The bread maker’s earnings provide a mortgage capacity beyond that of his spouse and whilst maintenance may help to bridge the gap, an unequal division of the financial pot is invariably required as well or instead. The main earner will potentially have accrued a pension, denied to his spouse, and there may need to be a redistribution of this, or a cash payment in lieu, in order to achieve a fair outcome. If however the couple are in a position where the primary earner has a final salary pension and the spouse has access only to an open-market money purchase scheme, to achieve equality of pension benefits again an unequal division or a payment representing more than half of the cash equivalent value of the scheme could be required.

Depending from which perspective one is examining the proposed terms of settlement is it any wonder that both can feel aggrieved?

Many the men who believe that they are being denied a fair return on the effort they have put in and many too the women who believe that they are being inadequately compensated for all that they have given up.

Regardless however of the extent to which the law seeks to redress the inequality that exists, only one thing is certain: as time moves on and circumstances intervene, the means of the former husband and wife are unlikely ever to be equal.

#inequality #BAD2014




Friday, 3 October 2014

Warning Notice


Whilst out and about yesterday, I spotted interesting advice on a plaque:

“Don’t marry for money,” it read, “It costs less to borrow it!”

Maybe there's a new opportunity here for Wonga.



Thursday, 2 October 2014

Filling the Frame


So the good old tax disc has been abolished. That circular paper certificate that always came with perforations on a square sheet of paper, leaving you in a high state of anxiety every year as you fretted over whether or not you would be able to detach it without tearing right across it.

I wonder what, in this digital age, will go next? Could it be that strangely sized piece of green paper, known as a marriage certificate?

I can think of any number of people who might object to that. Even amongst divorcees they can be viewed as sentimental objects.

Over the years many the numbers of clients who have protested in horror when I have explained of the need to lodge the certificate at court with their divorce documents on a non-returnable basis. Strange as it may seem, you do have to prove you are married in order to divorce!

Fortunately, albeit for a small fee, a further official copy can be obtained and filed in court instead.

Once upon a time a client told me that she deserved to be able to retain the official certificate she was handed on the day she married, as proof of her willingness before witnesses to commit. I think she was serious when she said it was her wish to hang it and her final divorce decree in matching heart-shaped frames (which she'd never known what to do with) alongside each other on her hall wall.


Is there anyone intending to frame and hang their last tax disc? It could solve the problem of what to put in that attractive circular photo frame I've had in a cupboard for years.