Monday, 31 August 2009


Whilst staying in the Lake District last week, Little Girl and I undertook a series of what we called Dead Poet Walks in the vicinity of Grasmere culminating on Thursday with a visit to the Wordsworth Museum. I didn’t expect to find anything of interest to a family lawyer amongst the exhibits but all at once I came upon the tale of William Wordsworth’s visit to France in 1791. It seems that he couldn’t resist a trip across the Channel amidst the upheaval of the French Revolution (typical of a poet, some may say) and whilst there befriended a lady who became his travelling companion. She gave birth to his daughter but he then had to return to England and left them (typical of a man, others may say), promising to return and marry when the political situation allowed it. Needless to say in 1802 he instead married Mary Hutchinson from down the road.

I have no idea whether or not he paid maintenance, although there is some suggestion that before marrying he at least volunteered an acceptable settlement. Even today the CSA would not be able to make an assessment upon him, although reciprocal arrangements with France would mean that any maintenance order granted there could be enforced in the English Courts.

Why is it that an area of the country as beautiful as the Lake District can have inspired some, like Wordsworth, to write verse, others to paint but all I can come up with is a blog entry?

Sunday, 30 August 2009


“Astonishing Splashes of Colour” is a novel by Clare Morrall whose interests include synaesthesia where emotions can be seen in colours. I confess that I enjoyed the somewhat tear-jerking experience of reading this unlikely tale of a motherless woman who would never be a mother herself, as she acted impulsively in the depths of her depression. Whilst the main character in the novel lived next door to, rather than with, her husband, there was nothing about divorce in this book. I couldn’t help wondering though about all the colours one would go through when experiencing the emotions that can accompany the trauma of divorce. The red and purple, crimson and puce, blue and indigo and ultimately beige, green then yellow.

Thursday, 20 August 2009


A’level results today and an important milestone in Apprentice Man’s life was reached successfully. Soon he’ll be leaving us for the distant world of university but today we are revelling in parental pride.

Many people after a separation, whether as a result of children fleeing the nest or relationship breakdown, feel they have nothing left to be proud about. They have lived their life in the shadow of or for the benefit of others and suddenly they are bereft, struggling to give meaning to their life or find a basis for their own self esteem. I was delighted therefore to come across this website recently: Healing Baskets. Yes baskets are available to try to provide help in all kinds of troubled times. You may never have thought of expressing your support with a basket, but some of the contents suggest exactly the sentiments the recently separated can need to hear in order to start the recovery process. For instance: mugs inscribed with “Once a goddess, always a goddess;” pewter pocket charms with the inscription “You make the World a better place;” garden kits because “every flower has to grow through a lot of dirt.”

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


Once upon a time a client was telling me how emotionally draining he had found the experience of being sworn to a statement in support of his divorce petition in order to apply for a decree nisi. “I actually shed a little tear,” he confessed, and then asked, “Do most people cry when they complete that document?”

“Some do, some don’t,” I replied.

“I suppose it’s like the bride’s mother at the wedding then,” he said, “Some cry, others don’t. Mind in my case, the mother in law to be was laughing; it was only my family weeping. It must have been an omen.”

I wasn’t quite sure what to say when he chuckled and added, “Come to think of it, even the wedding cake was in tiers!”

I breathed a sigh of relief. Sense of humour intact, my client was on the road to recovery.

Friday, 14 August 2009


In the course of my work this week I was reminded that court cases over marital assets can be as much about pride as the financial principles. Obstinacy by one or both spouses within a relationship can lead to marriage breakdown and then spill over to spoil settlement negotiations.

Becoming entrenched in your position prevents compromise and when misguided conceit sets in, a marriage hurtles towards oblivion and a case towards a final hearing. Deaf to sound legal advice, arrogance can result in an otherwise unnecessary judicial determination of matters that could have been settled months before with the same outcome and at a fraction of the cost.

Walking a legal tightrope you topple over. Remember pride comes before a fall (in net worth as well as emotionally).

Monday, 10 August 2009


“Perfection” is the title of a book by Julie Metz published by Hyperion in June. It kindly sent me a copy in advance of the publication date but I regret that it took a sojourn in Spain to set aside the time to read it. It’s an autobiography and is not directly connected to divorce. The writer was, however, widowed in her 40’s and devastated by her husband’s death is even more devastated to discover that he was a liar and serial adulterer.

The book tells the tale of the author’s anger and bitterness; she is described as a vengeful woman but in order to move on with her life learns to let go and reflect on the good times rather than the bad.

“You have to forgive him for us to move on together,” her new partner tells her.

Graphic language and description will probably limit enjoyment of this book for those who like a classically constructed novel. They are however used to effect, conveying the emotions, shock and betrayal suffered by someone denied the opportunity to confront the wrongdoer who continues to dominate and haunt her daily life.

Friday, 7 August 2009


News today that a Pennsylvanian woman is planning to marry a fairground attraction (I kid you not) filled divorce lawyers with excitement. The prospect of being able to market ourselves to all kinds of inanimate objects locked in unhappy relationships with human beings, pushes the boundaries for our workloads beyond wildest expectations. I’m even thinking that maybe I could specialise: acting for luxury cars and private jets springs immediately to mind.

Sunday, 2 August 2009


Little Girl excels at shopping. Last week on a whistle stop tour around North West England she had ample opportunity to put her skills into practice. Fortunately she’s too young for a credit card. I say fortunately, because whilst visiting Chester I was reminded that credit card debt can be a great divider.

Is there any husband here with a wife who’s spending too much?” yelled the Town Crier.

Almost every man in the crowd raised his arm.

“I have a cure for credit card madness,” proclaimed the Crier, “Who wants it for their wife?”

Again every man present raised his hand.
Now should your marriage be in difficulties because of spending habits, can I recommend avoiding Chester. The shops are great but the Town Crier might just hone in on you. Certainly one poor woman, volunteered by her husband was chosen and promptly placed in the stocks!

“I’ll let her out at 6pm when the shops have closed,” the Crier promised, whilst inviting the crowd to return at that hour to witness the release.

Maybe I should have gone back. I suspect after being locked up as public spectacle for 6 hours, any woman would be seeking out a family lawyer for advice.