Thursday, 28 January 2010

DIVORCE STATISTICS


Resolution is again backing calls for divorce law reform in England and Wales after newly released statistics highlight the flaws of a “blame centred” divorce process. The latest figures released today by the Office for National Statistics show that behaviour and adultery were cited in the vast majority of divorces.

In 2008, of all decrees awarded to one partner (rather than jointly to both), 67 per cent were awarded to the wife. In more than half of the cases where the divorce was granted to the wife, the husband’s behaviour was the fact proven. Of the divorces granted to the husband, the most common fact proven was the wife’s behaviour (34 per cent of cases).

Resolution, contends that this is because couples cannot currently get a divorce without having to blame one another for unreasonable behaviour or adultery unless they wait for two years.

Family break ups are a sad fact of modern life. With one in three children experiencing the breakup of their parents’ relationship before their 16th birthday, it’s essential that conflict is kept to a minimum when families separate. But, as these figures show, the present system encourages mud-slinging and blame. At the moment couples not wanting to blame one another have to wait two years before they can get a divorce. But for many, waiting two years to sort out their finances rules out this option.

Resolution is calling for a new system whereby couples can divorce on the grounds of “irretrievable breakdown” of their marriage with a maximum waiting period of six months. We urgently need to replace this blame centred divorce process with a civilised process for a civilised society.

Friday, 22 January 2010

HUMAN BED-WARMERS


I was asked a strange question today. As a divorce lawyer where do I stand on Holiday Inn’s announcement that it is to trial human bed-warmers?

To be honest, I never thought that I was obliged to take a stance on this issue. However, as someone who has recently taken to wearing socks in bed when temperatures have plummeted, it occurs to me that maybe I should have a view.

On reflection I can understand why the question was posed. The element of suspicion that might be engendered when one spouse returns from a business trip to tell their partner how the bed was warmed for them by a god or goddess dressed from top to toe in fleece, could theoretically be damaging for their relationship. However, Holiday Inn has given assurances that the bed-warmers will leave before the guests snuggle down between the sheets, so I do think it would be unfair for anyone to suggest otherwise.

Nonetheless and after careful consideration, I am going to say that I do think Holiday Inn by its actions could inadvertently risk increasing the divorce rate. After all, a bed that’s cosy from head to foot avoids the need for a couple to snuggle up together. Now what is that going to do for romance and those couples looking to rekindle lost feelings? There has to be a risk that this practice, if fully implemented across the complete chain of Holiday Inn’s hotels, could add to the number of failed marriages.

Come to think of it will our political parties with their love of legislation and currently vying with each other on ways to keep marriages intact, soon add to their manifestoes a bill to outlaw the art of bed-warming? Banning electric blankets, hot water bottles and humans dressed in fleece might still do nothing for their ratings but it will keep me in my socks for a little longer.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

GIFT EXPERIENCES AT DEBENHAMS


There has been a considerable amount of hoo-ha this week about Debenham’s decision to offer a divorce gift list. The store is reported to claim that it’s in response to the growing popularity of parties, cakes and cards to celebrate the unravelling of the knot. However and in so doing it has come in for criticism for trivialising marriage and making divorce a fun event.

Purely in the interests of scientific research I visited the Debenham’s website this evening to see what was on offer. There was no obvious department on the tabs at the top of the page and I therefore tried Gifts. Although broken down into Occasions, Recipients and Categories, I could find nothing for divorce or divorcees. Browsing the other tabs, I wondered if the store might even be so bold as to have included this new line under its wedding tab. I duly clicked, but “relief,” there was nothing there to undermine the institution of marriage. In desperation I tried every tab, but there was nothing.

Finally I tried a search of the whole site. “Divorce gift list” I inserted. The first entry it came back with was: “Gift experiences: Audi R8 thrill.” Now you’re talking!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

BLOOMING AGAIN


Visitors to my home frequently delight me by arriving bearing gifts. At this time of year flowering pot plants are keenly appreciated and make a colourful and vivid contrast to the sombre monotones that otherwise seem to dominate our existence. Sadly, however, the flowers droop, then fall and, as spring turns to summer, I have a display of depressed looking greenery on my kitchen windowsill. More out of routine than conscious effort they absorb the water and Baby Bio poured in their direction, but as the days shorten one begins to despair of their forlorn and hopeless attitude; will they ever bloom again? It always pleases me, therefore, when, as winter strengthens its grip, tiny shoots of recovery appear and, gradually during the shortest days of the year, those once subdued, sullen and sickly stalks blossom again with a profusion of pink and purple petals.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

THE DARK AGES


This week Bristol Crown Court is dealing with the trial of a farmer accused of murdering his wife after she demanded a divorce and £800,000. Around the corner in Swansea, the Crown Court was told today that a husband killed his wife and dumped her body by a motorway in a suitcase after they rowed over his use of casual sex websites.

Are we retreating back to the Dark Ages? What is so wrong with a “quickie divorce” when it's alleged that there are people who insist on a more insidious solution to achieve what they callously perceive as an “easy fix?”

Saturday, 9 January 2010

THE SLIPPERY SLOPE


Long term followers of this blog will know that Dom and I made a commitment to each other some 2½ years ago now. However things have been getting a little difficult over the last 3 weeks and this morning I found myself telling him “to get a grip.” I know you’re meant to talk these things through to find a mutually acceptable compromise because there’s never any future in simply stamping feet and insisting on change. Nevertheless in this instance, and whilst Dom may not appreciate it, he is not going to be allowed to slip again. A girl has standards that must be maintained when she’s out and about looking to accelerate and move on in life; Dom is very definitely getting winter tyres!

Monday, 4 January 2010

TEAM PLAYERS


Get families together and, if they’re anything like ours then after a large meal (priorities first) there’s nothing better than a game pitting brother against sister, in-law against out-law or husband against wife. Charades is probably still one of the most popular party games for such occasions. At New Year with a bottle of whisky in one hand and a Christmas cracker in the other, can there be anything more exciting than watching great uncle Henry attempt to mime “Gone with the Wind” for the amusement of his extended family?

There are of course now hosts of boxed games catering for the yearning within to make a fool of yourself whilst competing for family honour in a mini domestic Olympics.

This festive break we played two games in particular, “Articulate” and “Outburst”. They were aptly named, and watching those around me indulge in gamesmanship or attempt to cheat their way to success, I quickly learned why a failure to articulate adeptly or unnecessary outbursts of bad temper and indignation can ruin many a relationship. Indeed my best advice for those who are potentially vulnerable or faint hearted would be to stick to card games instead. "Happy Families" springs to mind!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

ACQUIRING A FORTUNE


I have for some time been endeavouring to persuade Outdoor Man to take up golf. I’m convinced it will be significantly safer than the ice climbing and back country skiing trip he is currently contemplating. Newspaper reports today to the effect that Tiger Woods has agreed to pay his wife what she has purportedly described as a “$300 million Christmas present” have strengthened my resolve; after all Outdoor Man could turn out to be a gifted player with championship potential!

Friday, 1 January 2010

THE BIG FREEZE


It started a week before Christmas when all that white stuff fell from the sky and lay and lay. It got harder as the temperature lowered. Cold and impenetrable it just sat there for two whole weeks. Then yesterday, on New Year’s Eve, there was a visible thaw and at the same time I saw our lawn or at least some blades of grass, as the blanket of snow and ice appeared to recede.

Not for long though. By 4pm it was snowing heavily and a silent, frigid atmosphere enveloped us again.

I awoke this morning to another crusty start, a bitter chill and a vast expanse of white nothingness.

2010 is starting the way 2009 finished. Who would be foolish enough to think a few clock chimes and a glass of champagne at midnight would make a difference?