Friday, 30 November 2012


With the publication of the Leveson Report, and the Prime Minister and his deputy opposing each other over its implementation, I thought readers might be interested in gaining greater insight into the situation from the perspective of a pending family law case. Totally coincidentally, it is called C v C (L Intervening) and I cannot imagine that it will ever be reported or commented upon outside of this blog.
The facts seem to be that C and C formed an uneasy partnership a couple of years ago, bringing their various offspring  to the relationship. Some of these have since left the House and one, Nadine, was curiously found living in a jungle in Australia. Indeed her father sought to explain that with reference to her being expelled, as I understand it, from a children’s tea party.
C and C have also had two children of their own. Following the modern convention for giving children completely bizarre names (only this week media reports have referred to Chlamydia and Hashtag), they named them Gutterpress and Freepress. An act in itself which raised the eyebrows of the Director of the local Children's Services Department (known only as L).
C and C are struggling to keep their lively brood in check. There is a complete mismatch of parenting skills with scopes for dispute and hostility growing within the House. C and C, it is argued, are both losing control and it is feared that the situation will worsen.
Children’s Services have been actively involved with this family for some time. L is recommending that Gutterpress be removed under a care order so that Freepress can flourish, albeit with a supervision order in place . C and C are in agreement as to the removal of Gutterpress but there is a clear gulf  between them as to how exactly Freepress should  be supervised. Having agreed to follow the recommendations of L unless completely bonkers, there is now concern as to why there should be any dispute.
Urged on by Freepress, however, her father is standing firm. A case conference has failed to resolve matters and now court proceedings have been instituted. L has intervened so that his report can be considered in full, but we can expect this case to roll on for some time.
In the meantime Nadine has been returned to the UK and placed with foster parents pending a meeting next week to assess whether or not she can be reunited with her family.

Thursday, 29 November 2012


On our recent trip to Morocco we regularly found ourselves strolling through the souks in Marrakech. What would take a few minutes to purchase at home, takes much longer there when you have to barter over the price of every item. Outdoor Man and Little Girl were initially reluctant to throw themselves wholeheartedly into this unique shopping experience. I was less inhibited and could only put it down to my experience as a divorce lawyer.
“You mean you haggle over houses and belongings,” Little Girl snorted in disgust, as I exchanged dirhams for a leather bag.
“It’s called negotiation,” I pointed out in response.
“Ridiculous,” she replied.
How blunt teenagers are I thought and the trouble, of course, was that she was right.
Now I appreciate that it might not be entirely appropriate to ask a vendor in the souk to be open and transparent with me but it is probably no more ridiculous than to expect a married couple to take up extreme positions and then seek to bargain their way to a compromise. As with the shop-seller there is always scope for a settlement lurking somewhere in between the two and haggling to get there only delays the inevitable and, in the case of marriage breakdown, add to feelings of mistrust and bitterness.
Collaborative law offers a genuine alternative for couples who are prepared to work together in a controlled and constructive way, to avoid posturing and the adoption of unreasonable positions. It isn’t suitable for everyone but it is an option that many clients should consider and discuss with their lawyers before deciding on the best route for securing a settlement in their own case. Whilst I doubt it will ever catch on in the markets of North Africa (and I do not intend to be the first to ask a vendor there to exchange anchor statements and sign a participation agreement before we agree on the price for a hand-woven carpet) it is already becoming a common process here in the UK.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


So your husband has cheated on you, added insult to injury by lying about it, and has broken his promise to make amends by coming home early every night. Sounds familiar but what do you do about it, other than instruct a divorce lawyer?
Sometimes these transgressions are hard to forgive and do lead down the road of permanent separation. Often, however, couples are looking for a way to forgive and forget but when trust has been broken, it isn’t always possible.
A new client recently told me that she had the answer. “He is going to eat carrots,” she said.
“A rather unusual punishment,” I thought as she continued to add to the list of culinary delights: potatoes, cabbage, lentils, chick peas, rice, peas, tomatoes, cucmber and lettuce.
“It does sound very vegetarian,” I murmured.
“Exactly,” she replied, handing me a text book from an Indian school called “New Healthway” and stabbing her finger at a paragraph.
Meat-eaters easily cheat, lie, forget promises and commit sex crimes", it read.
So there you have it ladies. All those pork chops and roast beef dinners, you thought were the way to his heart have actually been having the opposite effect! Needless to say educationalists in India are trying to get the book removed from school shelves.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


I have just returned from a holiday in Morocco. It is a country that I hadn’t visited since 1978. Like most places there have been many changes. The last time I was there I recall that my travelling companions were offered 3,000 camels for me by a rather bizarre gentleman.
Thirty four years later, as Outdoor Man put it, “There was no such luck!”
He wasn’t even offered a camel’s tooth, which, I guess, places me very firmly in the dromedary’s dung heap of life.
Well it has had me wondering. I mean if camels were a generally acceptable trading commodity would it make divorce settlements easier or not? I can’t imagine many people willingly offsetting pension claims for desert caravans and would the needs of the recipient be increased by having to provide food, shelter and sand dunes for them? Could either party object to a particular beast on the basis that its halitosis really was unbearable? How would they be counted and valued? Would there be scope to wander the Sahara abacus in hand? If so, would it be to count beasts or humps?

I don’t think I’ll ever complain about the lot of the English divorce lawyer or the humble seaside donkey again.