Thursday, 5 November 2009

ONE KINGDOM; TWO SYSTEMS


When you live and practise in the North East of England, you are inevitably aware that only a matter of miles away across the border in Bonnie Scotland the law is very different. So tonight, Alasdair Loudon of Edinburgh law firm Turcan Connell treated Resolution’s Tees Valley Regional Group to an illuminating talk on divorce, Scottish style. How on earth can it be that we have one kingdom with two such different systems? The English system is of course deemed to be one of the most generous in the world for wives when it comes to financial settlements and hearing Alasdair talk I wondered if the Scottish one is amongst the tightest, when maintenance for a spouse is restricted to 3 years and the scope for taking needs into account is severely limited!

Why is it that here in England we are struggling to persuade Parliament to allow no fault divorce before a two year separation, whilst further North you can terminate your marriage after you have lived apart for one year (if you both consent) or after two years if you do not?

I wonder what the potential is for marriages to break down over arguments as mundane as “do we live in Jedburgh or Berwick; Gretna Green or Carlisle?” Moreover the one, who wins the argument, presumably also wins the financial settlement!

When everyday life gets too much for us, banks go bust, politicians lie and the price of petrol increases again, Outdoor Man frequently expresses a desire that we should opt for a more simple life aboard his boat. I’d always thought this was nothing more than a pipe dream, but listening to Alasdair tonight I realised that there could be method in his madness after all; Outdoor Man keeps his boat on the West Coast of Scotland!

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