Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Christmas Creches



Back in December 2007 I wrote an entry on this blog about a Christmas crèche in Austria. It seems that the idea has caught on and this year we have seen a similar project launched in Carmarthen, with one to follow at the weekend in Manchester

Comfortable settees, magazines, sport on large TV screens and electronic games, it sounds like boys’ heaven; a haven where men retreat to whilst their other halves get stuck into some serious Christmas shopping. 

To work like a crèche the men must presumably be deposited and collected by their wives or long term partners. In 2007 I pondered on the outcome if their spouse failed to collect them; in 2015 I wonder what will happen if the men quite simply don’t want to leave! 


Sunday, 6 December 2015

Family Law Reconnaissance Tour


I returned from India this week where, as well as seeing the sights, I felt it to be my duty to undertake a reconnaissance mission on behalf of former family law colleagues. In the event that any may be seeking a change of scene then I can reliably confirm with photographic evidence that:

Delhi has a designated family court albeit with a removeable sign;


Modern offices for firms of lawyers abound;


Barristers’ chambers occupy historic buildings with rickety stairs.


Home from home, I guess!




Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Larry's Party



It has taken me some time, eighteen years to be precise, but I have finally read "Larry's Party," by Carol Shields which was first published in 1997. It is the touching story of a male florist who develops a penchant for mazes and experiences two divorces along the path of a successful business career. There may be touches of humour but it is essentially an emotional experience in which the author seeks to share the thoughts and feelings of a very ordinary man's life. 

I suspect it's a book best avoided by family lawyers and their clients for it fails to dwell on processes and instead concentrates on feelings. However and whilst I'm a firm believer in fiction mirroring the reality we find too hard to describe, this is no self-help book but rather the life-journey of a contemporary man (albeit, and because of my dilatory reading speed, of the last century).

I do wonder, however, is there really anybody out there who has invited not one but two ex-wives to the same party?


Friday, 16 October 2015

The House of Social Media



Whilst travelling recently we undertook a guided tour of an 18th century Ottoman house. The guide showed us what he described as the gentlemen’s room and pointed to a small curtained gallery above. He explained that this was used by servants to check when the men required serving their next course and also by the ladies of the house, to spy on the men; maybe catching a glimpse of the face of their betrothed after an arranged marriage had been contracted or to stalk their husband, learning perhaps if he was planning a second or third marriage.


“We call it Facelook” the guide said, “The historical precursor to Facebook.”


Friday, 4 September 2015

Alternative Dispute Resolution



The Edinburgh Fringe Festival closed on Sunday after 25 days and more than 50,450 performances. It was gratifying to see, in the runners-up for Dave’s Funniest Joke of the Fringe 2015 Award, a reference to relationship breakdown and the impact on children.

You really can’t beat a good pun. Thanks therefore to Simon Munnery in joint 8th place for:
“Clowns divorce. Custardy battle.”


We are, after all, always looking for ways to resolve disputes without the need for a court case.


Friday, 21 August 2015

A Spark of Solace



Underneath the guise of an emotionally contained divorce lawyer there is invariably a soft personality who is easily moved to tears by beautiful music, films or novels. No wonder therefore that I jumped at the opportunity to listen to “Spark” which is the second album from jazz singer and song writer, Kat Reinhert. It was released independently today and is inspired by Kat’s own experiences including with the struggles and hardships that divorce can cause.

“We’ve said goodbye so I know that I’ve just got to walk into the rain,” she sings on the first track.

In the next she proffers advice for dealing with the emotional aftershock with lyrics like, “Sometimes we have to put it down because it’s heavy.”

At times her songs acknowledge the pain whilst other tracks motivate the listener to keep up the battle for recovery with, for instance, “You are not going down without a fight.”

Kat succeeds in being a harmonious mentor and says herself that she is “proud of this album. Not only because of the content and themes it explores but because of the music and arrangements that the musicians helped to create and shape.”

If you want to share the rawness of someone else’s pain and in so doing seek solace for your own then listening to Spark could hold the answer.




Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Remote Control



I took delivery of a new television set today. We now have his and her TVs, after I finally resolved that watching the screen when Outdoor Man controls the remote is just too tricky. Whenever I thought that we were settling down to watch something, lo the channel changed. What is it about men and their innate desire to surf TV channels? For a gender that is notorious for its inability to “juggle,” it certainly has to be congratulated on being able to follow a dozen programmes contemporaneously.

A family law colleague once remarked to me, after encountering similar issues in her own living room, that she found it curious that she had never been asked by a client to draft a divorce petition incorporating allegations of unreasonable behaviour based on a husband’s operation of the television remote controller. I never did either. I do recall proceedings, once upon a time, which referred to a wife’s concealment of the remote but generally speaking the fairer sex clearly learnt long ago that there are some battles that are not worth the fight.

Moreover, when house contents came to be divided, in my experience it was not unknown for a husband to magnanimously concede that his wife could have the majority of the furniture and white goods, so long only as he could retain their largest television set. Fortuitously she usually agreed to him having the remote controller too.


Friday, 31 July 2015

An Upgrade



Yesterday I upgraded the operating system on my computer to Windows 10. I think it was that word “upgrade,” because in doing so I was reminded of the client who once upon a time told me that he was looking to upgrade his wife.

Now let’s get this clear: we might upgrade computer systems, downsize houses and recycle aluminium cans. We may even divorce spouses, but what we never do is upgrade, downsize or recycle them.


Saturday, 18 July 2015

Special Places


There are always special places for specific purposes. I imagine that somewhere there must be Mediation Towers, Collaborative Avenue and Negotiators' Nook to go with County Court that most divorcees are, of course, already familiar with.

 I'm guessing, however, that before visiting any of those places, many couples begin in Arguments Yard, which I came across  on my wanders today.


Monday, 13 July 2015

Match Point



In the last two days we have seen examples of outcomes and contrasting ways to reach a result. Depending upon your standpoint, the word humiliation may even be applied.

The Eurozone countries reached agreement over the Greek debt crisis after 17 hours of negotiations, demonstrating just how difficult reaching a consensus can be. Save in such extreme circumstances, I doubt if anyone would normally recommend overnight discussions which smack of locking the door and refusing to let anyone out until a workable solution is reached. Hanging over the negotiations was the apparent threat to force Greece out of the Eurozone, although it too had recently implied that it could leave without a fair deal.

In family proceedings face to face talks within collaboration are probably preferable, especially as in the latter case the parties agree that they will look to find answers to the issues they confront without litigation and are supported in this aim by everyone working together rather than in opposing camps. Mediation too allows much freer discussions. Any form of negotiating is, however, always open to the prospect of one party rail-roading the whole procedure with the threat of court action. Nobody should ever sign up to an agreement simply because they feel overly pressurised, negotiation-weary or frightened, without first having time to reflect on and rationalise the outcome proposed.


Otherwise and in the absence of a solution, court proceedings are inevitable. One only has to look at the Wimbledon final on Sunday between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, to understand how a court dispute resolves matters but not necessarily to both parties’ satisfaction. It is often said that in family proceedings there are no winners only losers, but the one thing that is certain is that there cannot, as that match on Centre Court surely demonstrated, be two winners.