Thursday, 21 April 2011


After 28 years and 4 months, it’s time to call it a day and I’m retiring as a partner in Latimer Hinks. I’ve always been sceptical about those who withdraw from public life on the basis they want to spend more time with their families. Now I’m of that age where I suddenly understand what they mean.

A business partnership is often described as a marriage in which you are tied together in a common purpose, through good and bad times. If that description is accurate then it must mean that I have been going through some kind of divorce, albeit amicably. In my case, however, I have 7 spouses. Imagine that, especially in a country that frowns on polygamy!

My thanks to all my colleagues at Latimer Hinks who have been working hard to make the last few weeks as easy as they could and also for their best wishes and support over the years.

So am I really going to spend all my leisure time with my family? After all Outdoor Man has recently qualified for his free bus pass, so just think of all the exciting jaunts we could go on together. Check back here in early May to see what Judith does next.

Monday, 18 April 2011


The Northern Echo featured a breaking story today about a local employer which has decided to relocate part of its business from Darlington and in so doing purportedly offered alternative roles in other locations to the staff who would be affected. One of those other locations, however, was reported to be in the Philippines where the new package on offer reputedly includes a rice allowance. Needless to say the workforce is objecting robustly at the concept of moving 7,000 miles to keep their jobs. There are a few though who are reserving their position. They are the ones who have presumably been in touch today to find out if: Manila is far enough away that the ex won’t try to visit; that the CSA can’t touch them there; whether taking all their pay in rice will prevent a maintenance claim; in due course if they remarry will they be able to bring their bride back to the UK.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


Now I appreciate that it may be unlikely but if you are in the middle of a divorce, or even thinking about one, whilst travelling to Nepal with your soon-to-be ex, read on. News has broken that Nepal’s highest court has just ruled that where spouses are both imprisoned, they should be jailed together to preserve their conjugal rights. Apparently the right for citizens to reproduce is enshrined in the country’s interim constitution. Oh dear, could that be a headache the “not tonight dear” half of the duo is developing?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


“Started Early, Took My Dog,” is the name of a book by Kate Atkinson. Little Girl gave me a copy for my birthday. It’s currently in the bestsellers’ list but I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Innumerable times during my practising life, I have been told that “the lesser half took the dog out for a morning walk and did not return.” I have known clients report the dog missing but rarely their absent spouse. The alleged dog thief usually resurfaces quickly anyway claiming ownership of the animal, if on no other basis than “possession is nine tenths of the law.”

They are never easy cases to resolve. Both parties declare affection for the pet that is way above anything they claim to have felt for the other. The courts don’t want to know and neither wishes to mediate, let alone consider buying a puppy substitute. Sadly such disputes can go unresolved and rarely to the satisfaction of both of the dog-lovers. Unfortunately, and many canine aficionados find it hard to comprehend, but our laws on contact, residence and parental responsibility do relate solely to children.

As for the book itself, it’s actually a well-written detective story set in modern day Leeds with flashbacks to the 1970’s (ah yes an era I recall well). It had little to do with divorce, of course, except for the title!

Sunday, 10 April 2011


“Ne’er cast a clout till May be out,” the saying goes. Nonetheless, with temperatures hitting 21 degrees Celsius in my garden this weekend, I could not be persuaded to continue on in my woollen vest and mittens. Neither, however, have I been tempted to put my winter clothes away.

We are, of course, all very good at ignoring the advice of older relatives despite the fact that they only ever have our best interests at heart. It’s probably a trick we learned in out teens, when our parents seemed adept at attempting to manipulate our lives. There are times though when it is worth listening to Old Wives and their tales. Their expertise is based on years of experience and early April with a fickle wind blowing is only one of those times.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


There have been issues of a domestic kind taking place in the field at the back of my house recently. Fed up to the buck teeth at being chased around by her male counterpart, a female hare has been indulging in her own bit of domestic violence. Yes, hares really do go in for boxing; we’ve been witnessing it with our own eyes. Trouble is the fellow doesn’t seem to have taken the hint; he’s besotted and obviously doesn’t understand that no means no, because he continues to harass her. I guess one of them will have to tire eventually, there’s clearly no scope for the non-molestation order and power of arrest that harassed humans can rely on.

Sunday, 3 April 2011


Mother’s Day here in the UK today and another date on the calendar for arguing about who should have the children. Mum of course needs to see them because it’s important to her on this the most special of days and, no matter that the children may have been under her feet all week, it’s time for Sunday lunch together which, of course, she will have to cook. Dad of course claims it’s his day for contact and anyway the children have always seen his own Mum, their grandmother, on this red letter day and it’s important now they’re separated to keep some normality going for the sake of the kids.

Envy instead the family where, despite everything, Dad insists they spend time with Mum. She agreed he should see them yesterday whatever and he made a detour to a garden centre with the children to pick up flowers for them to give her. She may be his ex-wife but the children still love her and he’s determined that they show her respect. Maybe she’ll reciprocate when Father’s Day comes round in June. If not, hey ho, he’s at least kept his dignity, as well as the moral high ground.

Friday, 1 April 2011


With all the changes taking place in our procedures and forms at the moment, it would have been very easy to fall for the April Fool across at Jordans Family Law today when they announced that the latest Practice Direction requires child friendly clothing in the family courts. Perhaps it’s just me, but actually the idea of Judges in polka dot robes designed by Cath Kidson has a certain appeal.


Resolution welcomed the interim report on the family justice system in England and Wales published by the UK Government’s Family Justice Review Panel and referred to in this blog yesterday.

“We whole-heartedly agree with the Justice Review Panel’s view that long and complicated legal processes are emotionally and financially draining for parents and distressing for children,” said David Allison, Chair of Resolution.

“The report’s emphasis on encouraging separating couples to consider non-court dispute resolution services, and assessing whether they need parenting information, is potentially very positive. As the report seems to acknowledge, it will be important to ensure that mediation is not seen as a panacea for all couples and that other non-court options such as collaborative law are also promoted.”

The Justice Review Panel proposes to make it compulsory for all parties seeking to litigate to first be assessed by a mediator for suitability for a parenting information programme and for use of a dispute resolution service such as mediation. The mediator would then give a certificate to allow a court application.

“It will be very important to ensure that assessments of separating couples are carried out by trained professionals who are familiar with all types of dispute resolution processes,” said David Allison.

The panel does not recommend that dispute resolution be compulsory, but that courts should take into account what attempts have been made to resolve the issue before seeking litigation.

Resolution also warmly welcomed recommendations including the creation of a unified family court, which would include all levels of the family judiciary, and improved judicial continuity to reduce the extent to which families appear before a different judge each time they go to court.

The organisation said that a proposed online information hub for parents must provide clear information on how family lawyers can help resolve family problems and on the full range of available dispute resolution services.

David Norgrove, Chair of the Family Justice Review Panel, is the keynote speaker tomorrow at Resolution’s national conference which is currently taking place in Cardiff.