Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Bite

There have been a number of times this summer when, for obvious reasons (ie biting flies) I have been reminded of the quote of Anita Roddick: “If you think you’re too small to have an impact; try going to bed with a mosquito.”

Divorce however is not like the minor irritation of a mosquito bite (malaria carrying insects excepted).

The biggest thing I have ever been bitten by was a pony. Divorce is not like a pony bite either.

No, divorce is where you are bitten by really big teeth (a crocodile, a lion or a shark – take your pick) and then spat out in pieces that fortunately can be sewn up and healed, although there will be scars that can remain forever.

Friday, 18 July 2014

In the News

Notwithstanding retirement, I do of course continue to take an interest in legal developments and cases especially those relating to divorce. In particular my attention was drawn last week to the newspaper reports on the hearing involving Mr and Mrs Hohn in what is being described as the UK’s wealthiest divorce case.

In the interests of transparency family cases have been opened up to enable attendance by accredited members of the Press. Their powers to report on the specific details of a case have, however, been very limited. When issuing a court application for a client I have, therefore, advised that, although proceedings are in private, the Press could be present but, reassuringly, that this is unlikely.

Save for those divorcees looking for a celebrity moment, many must have been extremely shocked by the High Court’s decision which has permitted everything to be reported except detailed financial information.  That said, one can probably assume that the Press will not, as a result, suddenly decide to attend every case where a financial order is sought; Mr and Mrs Hohn’s circumstances and wealth are somewhat exceptional.

For those who are genuinely concerned that their intimate details may be emblazoned across the Media are there any other options? Negotiation, arbitration, mediation and collaboration all spring to mind; differing levels of wealth or trust between parties making one process potentially more suitable than another. All, however, offer confidentiality, free from Press intrusion.

Perhaps a case like the Hohns’ is what has been required to encourage would-be litigants to examine all options with their solicitors, rather than embark on litigation other than as a last resort.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Le Grand Depart (Yorkshire)

It is an established and by no means unsurprising phenomenon that alcohol and celebrations can be an explosive cocktail, sufficient to sever a marriage that is already floundering. It seems however that if you add sport into the mix, the situation can become lethal. Indeed according to this article in Canada’s National Post, the divorce rate spikes after the annual Calgary Stampede in July with its party atmosphere conducive to both the beginning and ending of marriages.

Last weekend I was at one of the biggest parties linked to sport that Yorkshire has ever seen when it hosted the start of Le Tour de France.  On Buttertubs Pass and back in Hawes, both before and after the race passed through, there was certainly a festive spirit.

After reading about the effect of the Stampede I do wonder whether there are any likely repercussions on domestic bliss in the Dales from the world’s biggest cycle race. After all sitting astride a bucking bronco can’t feel that different to being glued to a bicycle saddle for 5 hours, can it? 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014


One of the good things about not going to work is being able to start the piles of unread books that seem to have entered my home over the last decade or more.

Literature, however, can be brutal. Take this poem by Rose Tremain in her short novel, “Letter to Sister Benedicta” :-

She’s gone to Milan
with her smart young man
leaving her furs
and all that was hers
including the very
pale man she called Gerry.

Sunday, 29 June 2014


Officially I retire tomorrow on 30th June but with accrued holiday my last day in the office was actually on the 18th. I am now weaning myself off the routine and anxieties of working life.

However, blogging will continue. Whilst it may have served as a form of alternative therapy for the busy divorce lawyer, I think it may now be viewed as an opportunity for creative writing. Oh, okay, maybe the truth is that after a lifetime of divorce I just can’t really let go!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

A Wedding

I attended the wedding of an extended family member today.

It was what commentators describe as a thoroughly classical wedding with the traditional bridal gown, the church, the rings, the tiered cake, the breakfast, the speeches and of course, one now assumes, a pre-nup!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Kefalonian Idyll

Last week I travelled to Kefalonia on holiday. It is a beautiful destination; very peaceful and quiet.

It's been at least 10 years since I visited Greece and I was pleased to see little had changed. Indeed, although we stayed in a modern villa, it still connected by tiny drainage pipes to the cesspit.

With so many things causing strife between couples I do wonder if this could be another. Certainly it wasn't to Outdoor Man's liking.

Now in all my years of practice I have never had anyone claim as grounds for divorce the size of their drainage pipes. Are things different in Greece?

Do arguments rage over blockages and who gets the drainage rods out next? Is there a shortage of plumbers when you really need one? Alternatively is it a case of shut up and put up? Or is there perhaps a collaborative solution where lateral thinking gets everyone petitioning for a change in pipe sizes rather than for divorce?

Monday, 12 May 2014

On Display

The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb will be exhibiting at London’s Southbank Centre this summer. A couple of years ago Apprentice Man (who really deserves a change of name now that he is grown up) inspired by what I can only assume was a morbid curiosity for my work, visited that museum whilst travelling around Croatia.

He showed me the photographs afterwards. I recall that there was the axe which had belonged to  the jilted guy who chopped his ex’s furniture into little pieces when she took off on  holiday with her lesbian lover. There was also the wing mirror of the car smashed by a woman who had found it parked outside an unknown address by her two-timing husband.

Now you can have the opportunity not only to marvel over such artefacts but also to donate them. The Southbank Centre is inviting gifts of items from past relationships to coincide with its Festival of Love and the exhibition by the Croatian museum.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Let It Go

Whilst married people can be healthier and happier than their single counterparts the results of a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has shown that this is not always the case. Sadly it seems that marital stress can make the sufferer more prone to depression.

Constantly put down or let down by your spouse can lower your resilience to a point where the high points of life no longer provide pleasure.

None of this is of course any surprise to family lawyers who frequently take instructions from people who have hit rock-bottom before finally seeking to remove themselves from a debilitating and repressive marriage.

Further research is now needed as to how to enable people to become resilient to the triggers which invoke stress (meditation is suggested). In the meantime perhaps I shall consider retraining as a Yoga Guru.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Saints and Sinners

The Pope declared two of his predecessors to be saints today in a ceremony attended by thousands.

Although undoubtedly not truly worthy of canonisation, it is surprisingly not uncommon in solicitors’ offices  across the land for one divorcing spouse to refer to the other as a saint for putting up with them for so long. Alternatively I have acted for people who have told me that they consider themselves to be saints for accepting the behaviour of their other half, sometimes for decades.

In the context of a marriage break up, I don’t know how often the concept of sainthood is actually discussed directly. Certainly I cannot recall receiving a letter suggesting: “Our client believes your client to be a saint for enduring him/her and his/her behaviour.”

Collaborative law is different. Sometimes it provides just that opportunity for one or both to endeavour to acknowledge their shortcomings and the hurt caused. Whilst hearing that may not result in forgiveness, it can nevertheless enable a couple to work together towards resolving their settlement terms.