Sunday, 27 June 2010


Image by courtesy of Durham Cathedral.
To launch collaborative law in County Durham and Wearside, family lawyers from across the county, hosted an event in the Prior’s Hall at Durham Cathedral last Tuesday for all professionals involved in family issues.

Collaborative law is an innovative approach to help reduce the emotional cost on couples and their children when families in the area split up. Instead of negotiating by letter or litigating in court, the alternative method, called collaborative law, involves couples working with their solicitors, all together in the same room, to reach agreement without the need for costly and stressful court battles. Both parties and their lawyers pledge to work together to negotiate an agreement without going to court.

Where it has been practised elsewhere in the UK, it has achieved remarkable results. We are confident it will in County Durham and Wearside too.

More information on collaborative family law is available from and

Monday, 14 June 2010


Yesterday I blogged about domestic violence and initiatives being taken to try to combat it here in the UK. Today I want to tell you about a letter I have received through ActionAid from a woman in Guatemala where it’s reckoned that over 4,000 women have been killed as a result of violence, rape, torture, or mutilation since 2000.

“I am 54 years old,” she wrote. “I have suffered from violence since I got married at 17. We were very poor and my husband would sell our few possessions to pay for his drink. I tried to leave him several times but he would threaten me. He would beat me and throw hot food and coffee over me. I felt very fearful every time he came home. I decided to finally leave him. I was tired and in pain from being knocked about again. I rented a room in another part of the city. He found me and beat me.”

“I want other women to know that it is never too late to stand up to violence,” she continued, “It will only be too late when they are killed. I want them to know that they can do it. I would also like to teach children that they must treat girls and women well. If we don’t do this then the problem will continue.”

Sunday, 13 June 2010


Well the World Cup has definitely started and even Outdoor Man appears glued to the television screen, although the continuous rain outside today may have played its part. It is feared, based on statistics arising from previous sporting events, that incidents of domestic violence will increase during the period of the tournament. Frighteningly when England were defeated by Portugal back in the 2006 World Cup, reports of domestic abuse went up by 30%. It is appalling but there are some households where sport and alcohol are a lethal combination and when the nation’s side loses (as it surely will at some point in the next few weeks), the touch paper ignites.

Police forces across the country are taking the threat seriously and are launching a variety of initiatives to try to limit the impact. Locally in North Yorkshire a confidential 24 hour telephone helpline has been set up, which will run until 25th July on 01904 646630. Durham, Cleveland and Northumbria police forces have joined together with a poster campaign to raise awareness: “What time is kick off in your house?” and again publicise their domestic violence helpline, 0800 066 5555.

Thursday, 10 June 2010


Last week I seized the opportunity to spend 4 days in a Spanish fishing village. The plan was to chill out on a sundrenched beach reading trashy paperbacks whilst grilling my flesh. I am pleased to report that all went to plan although the barbeque effect was hotter than imagined and the reading material, branded as “rom coms,” ended up providing something of a busman’s holiday filled with the scrapes of divorced and divorcing couples. They certainly weren’t the kind of reads I’d recommend for those suffering from the pain and heartache of the early stages of separation. Indeed a health warning on the cover would have been appropriate: “Not for those suffering the effects of divorce or of a prudish disposition.”

But what do you read assuming you are in that position and can settle your mind long enough to peruse a chapter or two? Is it a time for easy crime novels or historical sagas (Henry VIII excepted)?

What about War and Peace? It has an inspirational title and beats “Alone and Bereft in Benidorm” any day.