Saturday, 30 May 2009

AN ENGLISHMAN'S HOME IS HIS CASTLE


It is often said that “An Englishman’s home is his castle” (although unlike MPs the rest of us can’t claim to have our moats or even drains cleaned at the taxpayers’ expense). So it is that, when a relationship ends, invariably the hardest asset to sort, and to which so many of us are emotionally attached, is the home. Whether it be the inside living space to which we have applied paint and creative thought, the hours spent growing the garden or the nostalgic memories of happy times within its walls, all serve to increase the attachment.

But what if the mortgage is too large, the repair bill huge, the equity is needed to provide two homes, or the living space too much for one person? Regrettably and as a result there can be no choice but to let go. The castle has to be sold and both of its occupants move on.

That, of course, is the tradition with castles. North Yorkshire, where I live, is scattered with proud ruins, each with its own history of ransacking and battles, particularly from the continuous skirmishes during the Wars of the Roses. Drawbridges, moats, cannonballs and even boiling oil poured from the ramparts never proved themselves as total defences when seeking to ward off an onslaught for possession. It's no different in the divorce courts.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH


Frequently little incidents in our lives can act as metaphors for life generally. This blog is full of them but here is another instance:

My family and I are renowned for indulging in what others might describe as team building through adversity. The recent Bank Holiday weekend was no exception. It was our first weekend spent sailing this calendar year and we set off with high expectations and the promise from the forecasters of splendid weather. Needless to say it was raining when we arrived and we promptly postponed our departure until the following morning. It dawned bright but breezy and we headed out of the harbour mouth in anticipation of perfect sailing conditions. Instead we were met by lumpy seas and squalls from the hills providing most unpleasant conditions, which I confess finally caused me to call for the bucket. At least our passage was fast and we reached our destination within 4 hours, only for Outdoor Man to announce that there was too much of a swell to anchor and we would instead head for another bay, 3 hours’ sail away!

It’s at times like these that you begin to appreciate how mutinies arise and, for more than a moment, the prospect of actually walking the gang-plank and bailing out, seemed very attractive. I didn’t; we all pulled together or even the ropes, and when we did reach that bay, it was idyllic, the sea state smooth and the sun shining.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

NATIONAL FAMILY WEEK


Next week is National Family Week (you watch, there’ll be greetings cards for it in years to come). Families, of course, come in all shapes and sizes, and the end of a relationship doesn’t have to result in the breakdown of a family.


At Latimer Hinks, I see separating parents daily who desperately want to help their children to deal with the effects of divorce and separation, but they often don’t know where to turn for information, advice or support. Resolution, the national family lawyers association, has developed its “Parenting after Parting” initiative, which aims to help separating parents through this difficult time with advice and information on how to talk to children about divorce or separation. Help is available online at www.resolution.org.uk/parentingafterparting

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

NAVIGATIONAL HAZARD


It was reported today that the sat-nav system could break down within the next year. I hazard to guess that, if it does, numerous marriages will follow. Outdoor Man and I get along famously until he wants directions in the car. He accuses me of being unable to read a map; I accuse him of not knowing his right from his left; he ignores my instructions then asks me to point; I hit his nose when doing so. Sounds familiar?

Certainly there are countless couples who will say that the lady hidden in the computer on the dashboard has saved their marriage. Even Outdoor Man never gets upset when she insists he makes U-turns that he has no intention of executing. Moreover, when she gets really irritated with him, he just turns her off; you can’t do that so easily with your wife!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

GUILTY OF FRAUD


The first step in seeking to negotiate a financial and property settlement as a result of the breakdown in a marriage or civil partnership is to make a full and frank disclosure of means. Generally, whether matters are resolved by consent, mediation, or court order, a prescribed questionnaire known as Form E is used. One section of the form deals with “income needs,” where all current and future expenditure should be listed. In many cases, however, this can degenerate very much into an impossible wish list.

There was an occasion, once upon a time, when such a form completed by a client’s spouse was served on me. Annual income needs included:
£2,200 to clean moat around castle
£16,000 for mortgage interest payments on a mortgage that had been redeemed before separation
£0.59 for a chocolate Santa Claus
£304 to maintain a swimming pool
£25,000 for security patrols
£1400 for chauffeur
£600 for hanging baskets
£312 for mock Tudor boards for house exterior
£2.22 for nappies (for an adult?)
£126,648 for expenses in respect of a new partner’s flat
£0.05 for a carrier bag
£115 plus VAT for 25 light bulbs
£112.52 to refit toilet seat
£1.50 for Ikea napkins
£2,499 for a TV set
£40 for a court summons for non-payment of Council Tax
£0.38 for one Muller crunch yoghurt
£6 for dust bags for vacuum cleaner

“Delusional,” my client explained. “He thinks he’s a Member of Parliament.”

Thursday, 14 May 2009

JUNGLE BEAT


So Katie Price, aka Jordan, and her husband, Peter Andre have separated. The couple met on a reality TV show in the jungle, under the glare of both cameras and Ant and Dec. Hardly an auspicious start to a relationship you might think. However it is only after several years, a wedding, two children and a few million in the bank that the couple have decided to call it a day. Or, as the press reports seem to indicate, that Peter has called time citing his wife’s behaviour and she has fled taking the children with her.

What everyone really wants to know, however, is whether, when Katie left, she uttered the immortal words: “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here…”

Monday, 11 May 2009

EASY DOES IT


easyJet Boeing 737 (G-EZYI) taking off from Bristol Airport (England).Photographed by Adrian Pingstone in September 2003 and released to the public domain


Last week Easy Jet announced that it is looking to organise weddings in the sky. It did little to appease those of the mind that marriage is too easy and divorce difficult. Imagine how things might be if Easy Jet responds to the criticism with details of divorce flights:

This is the pre-boarding announcement for the flight to Decree Absolute. We are now inviting those passengers with children (whose interests are, of course, paramount), and any passengers requiring special assistance such as public funding, to begin boarding at this time. Please have your marriage certificate and identification for money laundering checks ready. Regular boarding will begin in approximately ten minutes time. Thank you.

Welcome aboard this is your Cabin Steward speaking. Please fasten your seatbelts and secure all personal chattels, ready for exchange with or return to your spouse, in the overhead compartments or underneath the seat in front of you. Please direct your attention to the monitors above as we review the divorce procedure. There are six emergency exits on this aircraft. Take a moment to locate the exit closest to you. In the event of reconciliation, stay calm and listen for instructions from the cabin crew. Divorce decrees will drop down from above your seat. In the unlikely event of an emergency order and eviction, leave your carry-on items behind. While we wait for take off, please take a moment to review the draft petition in the seat pocket in front of you.

Good afternoon passengers. This is your captain speaking. First I'd like to welcome everyone on our Divorce Flight today. We are currently cruising at an altitude of 33,000 feet and will shortly be passing over territory where pre-nuptial agreements are recognised. Would passengers in possession of such please make themselves known to the cabin staff. The weather looks good and with a tailwind on our side we are expecting to land approximately ten minutes ahead of schedule. The cabin crew will be coming around in fifteen minutes time to offer you a light snack, and the in-flight film, which today is Kramer vs Kramer, will begin shortly after that. I'll talk to you again before your divorce is finalised. Until then, sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of the flight.

Oh dear, if the idea takes off, I’ll have to retrain as an airline pilot.


Tuesday, 5 May 2009

MENAGE A TROIS


Conscious that Prince Charles has just posted a video to YouTube with a frog in a starring role, I thought that I would go one better and upload this video. Local wildlife has been behaving in impulsive ways recently. I have toads burrowing in my compost bin; a cow in the field beyond my kitchen that keeps racing pheasants; a Mad March hare that tears round the same field albeit 2 months late; a deer that jumped out of a ditch into the path of my car yesterday and a hedgehog nesting in my front border. However if one ever needed a reminder as to how ugly life can get should you try to introduce a third party into a relationship just look at this video, taken outside our front gate by Apprentice Man.