Friday, 30 November 2007


I am privileged to live in a village surrounded by views towards both the North Yorkshire Moors and Dales, perhaps 10 miles from the office. Now I know that I have no right to complain, especially when , if I time my journey to work right, then from door to door it takes somewhere in the region of 15 minutes. Nevertheless this week I have, for a number of reasons been obliged to drive the route between the hours of 8.30am and 5.30pm on a number of occasions, only to find myself sitting in queues of traffic and, in so doing, adding a whole 12 minutes to the total journey time. As I have sat there waiting patiently, it has caused me to contemplate on the similarities between commuting and divorce, of which I am sure you are already aware. Undertake the journey in the early part of your life or day and it’s relatively simple; try it in the evening or the mature part of your life and again it can be straightforward. Attempt it at 8.45am and you get caught up with children and the school run; at 12 noon with shoppers and the acquisition or delivery of assets; at 5pm with workers returning from the treadmill of employment. Of course there can be road works or accidents at any time, black ice and snow in the winter, or heavily laden tractors at harvest time, and whilst it’s not the best analogy in the world I think you get my drift, even if you can’t sympathise with my frustration.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007


Yesterday evening I went to see an adaptation of Catherine Cookson’s “The Fifteen Streets” at Darlington Civic Theatre. I confess that I have never read a Catherine Cookson novel, but Latimer Hinks was one of the joint sponsors of the production and I was happy to attend. With my roots very firmly in the North East I was confident that I would find some empathy with a storyline set in the docklands of Tyneside during the early part of last century. I was not disappointed; with family infighting, verbal and physical abuse, a fatal accident, romance outside of the class structure, the subjugation of women, miscarriage, hunger, poverty, and a teenage pregnancy, the tale appeared to have everything. Or did it? Of course, there was no divorce. For the inhabitants of the Fifteen Streets life was incredibly harsh and whilst they had most things to worry or gossip about, in the times of Catherine Cookson’s youth, divorce was not one of them. I hesitate to guess that if she was gaining material for her novels today, they would have a different inclination.

Monday, 26 November 2007


With the temperature barely rising above four degrees centigrade recently it's somewhat strange to find myself recalling summer days in the sun. Today memories of the hours spent splashing in the hotel pool came flooding back and particularly the fun we had trying to float on a lilo bed with a puncture. It didn’t matter how much air we breathed into it, it still went down and so did we.

Matrimonial cases can be the same. You can throw as much money as you want at trying to fight a hopeless cause but when your solicitor tells you that it’s time to settle you really have to listen. All solicitors have clients who tell them that they’d rather pay legal fees than their spouse, but the sad truth is they are going to end up paying both. It’s just like the lilo bed, you put air into it or throw money at the lawyers, but if you’re still going to sink at the end of the day, considering damage limitation first is usually a good idea.

Sunday, 25 November 2007


Whilst chatting to Constance the other night I finally got round to quizzing her about the real reason for her split and subsequent acrimonious divorce. It’s amazing how a couple of years down the line events have a much more rational explanation. It seems the bridegroom never allowed himself to be groomed by the bride. He never learnt to cook, share the housework, or give up his love of football and his Friday nights out with mates. At the same time Constance recognises that she herself altered, although she attributes this to the arrival of her children. Whatever, the ex could not come to terms with the changes, especially when she no longer delighted in acting as housemaid to him, never wanted to go to the cinema to see a film when they could just as easily watch TV nor spend her summer holidays stuck in a little tent when there was the prospect of a charter holiday in the sun.

I guess there’s a moral there somewhere, like: leopards don’t change their spots, unless they’re female!

Friday, 23 November 2007


Christmas has come to our town centres and for some the joy of giving can mean unbearable pressure and debt. Take my friend Constance for instance (click here for the blog entry when I first introduced you to her):

It seems she started Christmas shopping for her children a month or so ago now and keeps adding to the sum owed on her credit card debt almost daily, as her resistance to the demands placed on her by the ex’s relationship with their children steadily diminishes. Last night she told me that she’s just ordered the latest games console for her youngest (despite the fact that the child already possesses 2 earlier versions) because she knows the said child has been manipulating the ex to buy her mobile phone cum MP3 player cum 5 mega pixel camera and she can’t risk being outdone. Sadly I had to admit that she made me feel somewhat limited in imagination and generosity when I confessed to an intention to give Little Girl and Apprentice Man a book apiece and a box of toffees between them.

Later, Little Girl divulged her view that if (heaven forbid) Outdoor Man and I were to separate, then she might fare much better with her Christmas stocking than is usually the case. Hmmm, not that I really enjoy being manipulated, but maybe I’d better make it a box of toffees each this year.

Thursday, 22 November 2007


I’d like to make a very public thank you to the gentleman who delivered a beautiful cymbidium to the office for me today. It is a well established truth that at the end of a divorce settlement one party generally feels that they received less than they were worth by way of financial settlement, whilst the other believes that they were forced to be overly generous. Sadly the only point on which they both seem to be of the same mind is that their respective lawyers cost them both too much. Consequently and regardless of whether you act for husband or wife the divorce lawyer’s role can theoretically be a pretty thankless one. It is therefore always heartening when a client acknowledges that they are pleased with the legal services they receive. Once again, my gracious thanks.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007


Anecdotal evidence gleaned from clients would suggest that divorce parties seem to becoming more commonplace and whilst it’s not entirely de rigeur to invite one’s solicitor to such an event, I confess to receiving the occasional invitation. In case you are tempted to organise one, I thought it might be useful to highlight 10 absolute do-nots :

1.Don’t invite the ex; he/she will spoil your night.

2.Don’t invite the ex in-laws; they’ll spoil it too and worse still tell the ex all about it afterwards.

3.Don’t play soppy love songs, least of all from the era you met; nothing brings on the tears more than a little alcohol and nostalgia. Take a look at my song list included in my profile instead.

4.Don’t let off fireworks without checking the latest regulations as to hours of use etc..

5.Don’t try cutting the cake alone, backwards or whatever; just cut the cake out of the do altogether.

6.Don’t break off the dancing for everyone to gather around for a burial of the wedding ring in the garden; someone always sneaks back to dig it up later.

7.Don’t decide to hold your party in Dublin, Prague or any other top stag/hen night city in Europe; all those gangs of guys and girls in pre-marital celebratory mood will spoil your own attempts at excess;

8.Don’t allow any speeches; public pillorying is regarded as bad form.

9.Don’t expect presents; what can guests bring for a divorcee who already has half of everything?

10.Don’t cry. This will be your divorce night not your or your daughter’s wedding day.

Monday, 19 November 2007


There’s apparently no need for an organisation like Relate in Cyprus. Suffer from a relationship problem with your wife and you can call for a sorcerer instead. The only problem is that she might crack an egg into your underpants and charge you 5,000 Cypriot pounds for her efforts. News reports however confirm that the sorcerer is now on trial, but fail to indicate whether or not her efforts resulted in a reconciliation.

Click here for link to Reuters News Agency Report

Friday, 16 November 2007


I went to the gym yesterday evening on a visit that I would like to think had a market research perspective. You see over the course of the last couple of years I’ve noticed that gyms seem to have featured fairly high on the list of meeting places for unfaithful spouses. There being nothing of interest on the TV and loving the dynamics that give rise to my work, I thought I’d go along and see if I could view some real life soap operas taking place, maybe even leave my business cards strategically placed on a running machine or two.

Perhaps the Local Authority run sports centre wasn’t the best place to try out this initiative, for it was not to be. Never have I been surrounded by so many unattractively perspiring people. Yes there may have been muscles in abundance, but they weren’t being flexed, so far as I could see, at the opposite sex. You know what I reckon this gym thing is just a sham for some other point of rendezvous. Accordingly I did pick up a tip which I shall pass on here:
If he/she says they were at the gym and you suspect that this may not have been the case, just sniff their sports' vest. On my unfortunate experience, it has to be a dead giveaway.

Thursday, 15 November 2007


If your husband is over 45 and acquires a sports car, a motorbike, a chest medallion and/or a girlfriend, you may feel compelled to visit a solicitor to enquire about divorce. However on the basis that these symptoms can apparently be diagnosed as the Manopause, you might want to send him to see his doctor instead.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007


Photo originally uploaded by kennethg

It was reported today that an Indian farmer married a dog on Sunday in a full Hindu wedding ceremony, witnessed by neighbours and village elders. Apparently the farmer has been suffering from 15 years’ bad luck after killing two dogs who were trying to mate in one of his rice fields. This bad luck extended to the farmer becoming unable to walk and suffering the loss of hearing as well as of an ability to talk properly. His physical condition has had doctors baffled but someone more knowledgeable put his condition down to a curse inflicted by the dead dogs’ spirits.

Donned in a wedding sari the bride dog went through the ceremony, but once it was over and the hold on her leash loosened, she absconded. It appears however that she has since been safely returned to her husband, who is purportedly planning to find a human bride once the curse is lifted. Won’t he need to get a divorce first and will he be blessed with a dowry to meet the ensuing financial settlement?

Monday, 12 November 2007


I hate form filling. I hate it even more when I can’t see the point of the information being requested nor the benefit of completing the form in the first place. Hence it was with a feeling of dread that I sat down on Saturday morning to tackle four visa applications, one for each of us, followed by a Contact Details Questionnaire and a Consent for Educational Visits (one of each for both Apprentice Man’s and Little Girl’s respective schools). Whilst so occupied I became increasingly more irritated; mentally accusing the senders of being over officious and small-minded. By 12 noon, I calculated that I had written out our address and telephone number twenty-eight times. Then, just to make a full weekend of it, on Sunday I collated all the information that my accountant has been pestering me to produce, so that he can prepare my Tax Return ready for submission in January.

You will appreciate, therefore, that when I awoke this morning it was with a smile on my face as the prospect of a day in the office seemed to offer the opportunity for some light relief in comparison. Legal documents with which I’m familiar and for which I understand the point can sometimes be a delight and on other occasions an intellectual challenge. Also I’m assisted by technology (no unnecessary duplication of input) and clients who supply the information required (sometimes neatly bundled and recorded, sometimes on copious documents stuffed into a carrier bag).

Of course, I never consider how small minded and officious clients might think me when I hand them, for instance, the standard twenty-four page questionnaire known as Form E which forms the backbone for resolving financial disputes. Instead I appreciate the relevance of the information requested and anticipate that the client will do likewise. I wonder if that’s how the clerks at the Embassy and Local Education Authority feel when they devise and distribute their forms. Surely not; if I had to ask clients to insert their names and addresses three to four times on every form I use at work, I’d have lost all my clients and been obliged to find myself another career by now.

Thursday, 8 November 2007


As this blog entry is about to prove, I know nothing about divorce law in Indiana. Indeed I do not profess to do so. After all there wouldn't be much opportunity to use any knowledge I might have, working as I do in Darlington. That said, there are occasions when a dual qualification in Scottish law (another alien concept) would be extremely useful with the border not so far away. Mind the issues and emotions facing anyone going through divorce are universal, regardless of where in the world they are. Sam Hasler who has paid me the honour of mentioning this blog on various occasions in his own family law blog has indicated that whilst I don’t have much to say about Indiana family law there are still many similarities in the people we both seek to help and the problems they face.

Lately we are being entertained in the new pedestrian heart of Darlington by a variety of musicians. Among the most tuneful of these is a band of men of American Indian origin, dressed in authentic costume including head-dress & buffalo skins. Their act is dominated by musical pipes that replicate the sound of the wind and occasionally they can be seen sitting cross-legged smoking a peace-pipe.

I wonder if the peace-pipe still plays any part in the modern law of Indiana. It could surely be put to good use in the resolution of acrimonious divorce cases, or does Indiana, like the UK, ban smoking in public buildings? I know not, but maybe Sam will tell us in one of his blog entries.

Monday, 5 November 2007


This month the Reading Group tackled a biography: “Haw Haw, the Tragedy of William and Margaret Joyce.” To be honest I’m no fan of biographies; they’re generally fairly tedious and whilst they allow some scope for speculation, the imagination and atmosphere that dominate any fictional work (and even some autobiographies) is inevitably missing. Moreover, reading the life story of the great and famous is one thing, reading that of the infamous is another.

Nonetheless, I did note with interest that Lord Haw Haw (already a divorcee when they married in 1937) and Margaret divorced each other after four and a half years, only to remarry some six months later. It is not of course unheard of for divorcees to re-unite, but it is more common to rue one’s mistake at the altar than subsequently for seeking a Decree Absolute.

Who knows if Mr and Mrs Joyce’s second marriage would have survived the cessation of hostilities, had they not been captured and a trial for treason intervened. Certainly their arguments, drinking sessions and extra marital relationships continued. I have been practising long enough to have divorced a number of clients twice, and whilst rarely has this been from the same spouse, it does happen and usually for the same reasons as the first time around.

Sunday, 4 November 2007


Last night we went to a charity event in aid of Eva. Not Eva Longoria Parker, the star from Desperate Housewives, nor even, as the name might suggest, an individual lady, but rather an organisation of that name which is actually an acronym for Emerging from Violence and Abuse. It’s based in Redcar and has been helping women who have suffered from domestic violence for over 20 years. A worthwhile cause and I only wish that every desperate housewife in every town could have her own Eva.

Saturday, 3 November 2007


I think that it is now time to update you about the relationship with Dom (and no I have decided against the tattoo after all). Although still very much enamoured by him, the honeymoon period is drawing to a close. The twitching blinds and net curtains from our neighbours when we pull onto the drive are very much something of the past; a kind of acceptance that he’s here to stay.

Unfortunately we have had our first spat. I really didn’t think he was going the extra mile or three that I got out of the ex, and that regular weekly stop at the supermarket to fill up has been getting very expensive. Dom, however, seems to think he’s some kind of thoroughbred that requires careful handling. So, although I like to think that I’ve been in the driver’s seat the whole time, it has been a new learning experience. We now sprint, at his insistence, rather than jog, most days and gradually I’m teasing a little extra mpg from him. With petrol prices hitting £1 a litre, I have to.

Click here for last instalment