Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Monday, 28 January 2008
Now before everyone gets very excited and decides to apply for jobs in Tokyo, I can tell you that it would appear that the company concerned, Hime & Co, only has six female employees and that the paid leave extends to one day a year for under 24s; two days for those between 25 and 29 and three days for the over 30’s. It sounds to me that this could be more of a marketing ploy than a serious employee benefit or opportunity for recovery.
Sunday, 27 January 2008
Friday, 25 January 2008
A government-funded awareness campaign in 2004 has clearly failed to get the message across that living together does not provide cohabiting couples with financial rights if their relationship ends, even if they have lived together for many years and have had children together. Instead, these couples face increased insecurity and distress at the time of break up.
Resolution has been calling for a new law to protect cohabiting couples since 2000. Its members, including myself, regularly witness the injustices created by the current situation, including financial hardship and even homelessness.
On a more positive note, the report found that nine in ten people think that a cohabiting partner should have a right to financial provision if their relationship is a long-term one, includes children and has involved prioritising one partner’s career over the other’s.
Resolution very much hopes that the Government is listening and urges it to commit itself to reform that will provide cohabiting couples with a legal safety net.
Thursday, 24 January 2008
None of the spectres made an appearance during our visit. If they had, and drawing on my expertise as a divorce lawyer, was there anything that I could have said to try to help them out of their predicament?
I don’t think that “You have to let go, look to the future and get on with your life,” would somehow have been appropriate.
Tuesday, 22 January 2008
Not surprisingly many women also revert to their maiden names after divorce and whilst some make deeds to verify the change, theoretically this is not necessary.
We recently reached a milestone in our house when Little Girl (not yet 12) measured in taller than me. I confess to being somewhat peeved by this, it having taken the greater part of half a century to acquire at full stretch my total height of 5 feet and 2 inches (1.57 metres) and she being barely out of nappies! Hence and despite her repeated requests for a name change, I am resisting and wearing high heels indoors instead.
Monday, 21 January 2008
He had split from his wife of three years in 2001 and then gone through a second marriage ceremony with another woman at an army base in Germany in late 2006, declaring himself to be a bachelor. It was reported that the offence came to light when, in an argument with wife number 2, he shouted “I wish I had stayed with my first wife.” Something of a giveaway you might say.
The Judge took the view that as offences of bigamy go, it fell into the less serious category, the second marriage having been conducted for neither gain nor reward and with no obvious motivation.
I can only assume that the curfew is designed to permit time for a divorce whilst reducing the opportunity to meet anyone else and marry for a third time in the interim.
Sunday, 20 January 2008
Yesterday it rained too.
Everywhere is dull and grey and sodden.
It rained last week and the week before that too. Before that there was wet snow.
It rains. It drizzles. It pours.
It’s forecast to rain again tomorrow, and the day after.
There was a brief period of respite yesterday when I spotted the first garden flower of the year, a tiny yellow polyanthus.
I can’t see it today. It’s too misty and it’s raining once more.
I wonder if the sun will ever shine for me again.
Saturday, 19 January 2008
No wonder so many young people (married or simply living together) organise their finances around a joint account with no overdraft facility into which they both contribute to meet the household expenses but otherwise keep their finances separate.
It still isn’t easy if one is a spender and the other isn’t but, as poor Mr Mug found out, if that is the scenario you can always cut your losses and run. Constance, of course, thinks he’s been rather unfair and should have been more understanding of her need for retail therapy after all she’s been through in the last few years. The trouble is, as I’ve had to tell her, a pile of presents on Christmas morning, a hotel break away afterwards and a hefty deposit for a summer holiday you can’t afford anyway, aren’t adequate compensation for a negative bank balance and money worries for months to come.
Constance is no longer speaking to me.
Friday, 18 January 2008
It’s that time of year again when credit card bills drop through the letterbox and remind you of your pre-Christmas excesses. Limits on cards can easily exceed £10,000 and with many households having more than one card, it’s easy for debt to spiral out of control. It’s even worse when only one of the couple knows about the level of debt and far too often it is that scenario that can act as the trigger for separation and divorce.
My friend Constance called to see me again this evening. She’s hiding a guilty secret from her latest boyfriend, Toby Mug. He must be besotted because when they went out shopping together in December he foolishly opened a new credit card facility and authorised Constance as a user of the account. Sadly his trust could cost him dearly, although I do hope that I have persuaded her to act honourably, own up and offer to pay back.
There are two kinds of cashless people in our society:
- Those who can use credit cards properly and don’t need cash
- Those who can’t handle plastic and never have any cash either.
Constance is one of those who can’t and if she’s to have any chance of building and keeping a successful relationship she needs to adopt strategies for keeping her spending under control. For the time being I’ve stood over her as she’s sliced the offending card in two and extracted a promise that she’ll make a full confession before either Toby receives his monthly account or she enters a world of subterfuge and tries to hide it from him.
There’s still a chance that their relationship will hold and so long as the debt is containable, she may be able to clear it with a personal loan or a further mortgage advance at a lower rate of interest. Of course, I suppose Mr Mug might be prepared to overlook the whole matter. Indeed if I understand Constance correctly she’s of the mind to bring their relationship to an end and leave him with the debt (for which he alone is legally responsible) if he can’t see the funny side and appreciate her for what she is! After all she apparently treated him to an exotic break at a luxury hotel last weekend, using his credit card facility, of course. Honestly, I give up but I shall keep you updated.
Wednesday, 16 January 2008
I think I can add to that: We marry with poetry, live together with prose and sadly can divorce with slang and insults.
Monday, 14 January 2008
I predict an influx of new divorce cases on February 14th if certain spouses, including my own, get carried away and try to serve their loved one marmite on toast with a red rose for breakfast on the Big Day.
Sunday, 13 January 2008
Fortunately we saw the aftermath of only 1 accident a few vehicles ahead of us as we wound our way up the hairpin bends of the foothills of the Western Ghats. We were unsure what had happened but it was apparent that most of the men in the nearby village came to the scene to render assistance and move the vehicles to the side of the road and the injured into transport, presumably to take them to hospital.
As we edged past, a car had lost its roof completely in the impact and nearby there were puddles of blood and abandoned flip-flops.
It was no wonder that our driver, a Christian by the name of John, regularly stopped outside of Churches, to offer candles and gifts of flowers. That and making the sign of the cross before he turned the ignition were obviously designed to assist in ensuring our safe conveyance.
Faith, if you have it and whatever the religion or belief, can be of great comfort in delivering us through all kinds of situations. However, in India there could just be a caveat on the religious front for which see this entry in Family Lore.
Saturday, 12 January 2008
It was not surprising, therefore, that when I dipped into Bollywood Movies, I came across the following culinary linked expressions in the English sub-titles:
“Gruel, chutney and sprouted lentils for you!”
“I won’t let his lentils cook in Kerala.”
If I understood the meaning correctly then I think that they could be readily translated into gourmet divorce English as:
“I’m not cooking for you any more. Instead you can live on porridge made with water; pickled onions and seed potatoes!”
“I’m not letting him cook toast and warm his slippers at my fireside again.”
Of course feel free to leave your own translations by way of comment should you wish.
Friday, 11 January 2008
The pace of life is noticeably slower than in the UK and everything operates at a different pace; service at meals, travelling from one place to another and even, I was told, the court system. It is choked with such a backlog of cases that it’s purportedly guesstimated they could take 400 years to clear. Now imagine waiting that long for a divorce!
Wednesday, 9 January 2008
Are there any similarities between the two?
Well we travelled in a group of fourteen of whom twelve succumbed making a ratio of 1:7. That compares to 1:3 marriages ending in divorce in the UK and it is, therefore, more prevalent.
What of the symptoms? Well along with the obvious vomiting and diarrhoea (whilst not unknown, neither are a common complaint in divorce), there were feelings of utter exhaustion and weakness which lingered after the other symptoms had receded. It felt awful at the time, but was over within 48 hours and therefore far less deleterious than similar indications in divorce.
Tuesday, 8 January 2008
Kerala Kathakali Center. Kochi.
Originally uploaded by Masha Dubrovskaya
The tale portrayed was from Hindu culture and told the story of attraction, seduction, betrayal and rejection. Nothing new there then!
Monday, 7 January 2008
7 January is widely regarded as the day on which most couples file for divorce. Evidence suggests that for many families, far from being a relaxing break, the Christmas holiday is a time of huge stress. Instead of fixing troubled relationships, it can be the final straw.
Add to this the financial strain early January brings, the reality of returning to work, no let up on the cold weather and relationships can come under intolerable pressure.
Acrimonious breakdowns can have a devastating effect on families, especially on children, and should be avoided at all costs.
An estimated one in three marriages ends in divorce - a painful and often long-winded process with significant emotional and financial costs. Collaborative family law is a relatively new process that aims to reduce conflict. It offers an alternative to the traditional divorce process in which couples agree not to go to court and instead work out solutions together.
More and more people are taking the collaborative approach and identify three key benefits; it’s a private process, it’s less contentious than going to court - and therefore less anxiety ridden - and the outcome is often fairer for both parties because they have reached it together.
What’s more, it sends out remarkably positive signals to children who benefit hugely from knowing that their parents are working out their differences together.
Resolution lawyers and mediators can help separating parents to reach agreements without the need for costly court battles.
Sunday, 6 January 2008
As night fell we tied up to a large palm tree. The local insect population then invaded and despite the cumulative effect of four bodies covered in deet, mosquitoes buzzed incessantly and moths larger and uglier than anything I see in Darlington landed on my shirt and trousers.
Whilst forcing me to appreciate the constitutions of the early British colonialists who presumably survived without insect repellents and air conditioning, it also proved that even the most apparently harmonious of situations can have a crueller, darker side.
Saturday, 5 January 2008
Two creatures which do not live so harmoniously together are the ghekko and cricket. Whilst sitting one evening last week, we observed the former pounce on the latter and kill it by what can only be assumed to be strangulation using its jaw muscles. Many of my clients are inclined to quip that murdering one’s partner may only result in a 30 year prison sentence compared with divorce and maintenance payments for life. However, even if you do have the constitution of a ghekko (which incidentally also proceeded to eat the evidence), I do not recommend murder as a remedy for relationship difficulties.
Friday, 4 January 2008
It started in the East with news that a cheated wife in China gatecrashed a televised presentation of the unveiling of the Beijing Olympics’ channel to denounce one of its presenters (also her husband) as an adulterer. Needless to say that piece of television has now made its way to YouTube for which click here. Congratulations should be offered on the lady’s composure but personally I’d prefer to make such allegations in a court room rather than in front of the burly chaps who seemingly muscled in to persuade her to move away from the cameras.
Here in the UK we had a decision from the Court of Appeal effectively giving the green light to pre-nuptial agreements which for so long have been disregarded as being contrary to public policy (and the sanctity of marriage), Now it seems that if
1) you are perhaps worth £18million at the time of your marriage and regardless of the fact your husband may be worth 3 times as much (but nobody knows because the court wouldn’t allow any disclosure),and
2) you enter into a deed agreeing each to keep your own and to make no claim against your spouse should the relationship break down, and
3) it does (after a period of only 18 months or so),
then you just might be held to your agreement!
Next there was news that a wife in Egypt is going to court to establish whether or not she has been properly divorced by her husband under Syaria law as a result of declarations of divorce received from him by text message. Muslim law permits the pronouncement of talak, whereby the utterance of words denoting divorce by a husband on 3 occasions result in an automatic end to the marriage. Malaysia has apparently already outlawed the use of text message for this purpose; as a result of lobbying by divorce lawyers presumably.
Then in the newspapers today there were reports of the criminal prosecution of Mr Medley who allegedly, in a fit of pique following the sale of the personalised plate on his Ferrari by his wife, disposed of a shoe from every one of the many pairs in her £1,000 collection. They are now happily divorced but apparently not speaking.
Finally we also had further news concerning Britney Spears. It was only 2 days ago that we were told her legal team no longer want to act for her because of communication difficulties. On the basis that they still have telephone, e-mail and postal services in the USA I guess that this means she is being reticent in the delivery of instructions. Today we are advised that she was carried out of her house on a stretcher after some kind of altercation relating to the custody of her two young toddlers when police, the father’s lawyer, a helicopter and numerous police cars were all called to the house. Spare a thought for the children, presumably in there at the time, and at the centre of what can be best described as a horrible mess
Thursday, 3 January 2008
Trust me, as elephants evolve they’ll learn to divorce rather than to wave their trunks for tourists’ cameras.
Wednesday, 2 January 2008
It was noticeable however that, whilst it was predominantly men who were talking on the village streets, it was women we saw picking tea, weeding the paddy fields and washing pots and clothes in the canals. I couldn’t help wondering, therefore, if there was the same level of domestic bliss in the home as between the differing religions on the street.
Tuesday, 1 January 2008
India is a country of many contrasts and our guide was keen to provide statistics. From these I learned that 85% of marriages there are arranged but the numbers are falling whilst the divorce rate, which is currently 10%, is rising. To what extent the two are connected I have no desire to speculate, although I predict that as India becomes more and more westernised that divorce rate will inevitably increase.
For the present it remains a country where the vast majority of the population continue to live in poverty. It has a population of 1 billion people and after China is the largest developing country in the world and host for many of the UK’s much maligned call-centres. Despite its reputation for prospering on the back of I.T. it is estimated that only 10% of the population have a washing machine and half that number a car; 26% of urban households do not have running water and 9% no electricity. In the countryside, where the majority of people still live, these figures are higher; water is generally drawn from wells and only 47% have electricity. Even in the socialist state of Kerala in which we travelled and where Communist initiatives have resulted in 95% literacy and the lowest infant mortality rates in India, the physically disabled and ragged orphans still congregate outside churches, temples and railway stations. Many locals collect water from standpipes in the streets and rely on rivers and backwaters for washing dishes and clothes. Litter abounds especially in Kochi where clearance appeared to amount to a series of small fires at the roadside. Migrant families from other states sleep rough amongst the piles of rubbish on waste-ground, their few possessions spread around them.
We spent our final night at a hotel on a beach overlooking the Arabian Sea. Whenever a tourist ventured onto the sand, local children asking for money came buzzing like the indigenous fly population. You can’t give to them all and any alms must therefore be given discreetly.
I was left with an overall sense of sadness at my inability to do anything effective to alleviate the situation. How long will it be before everyone in India can expect to benefit from basic standards of sanitation and how politically can a country with so many people move towards such a goal within a realistic timescale?
Witnessing the deprivation forced us to appreciate what we have and to know that however bad life can feel at times, it could be thousands of times worse.