Friday, 20 December 2013


Dear Santa
Although I have sometimes been sad, I have tried to be a good girl this year and hope that you will, therefore, be able to grant my Christmas wishes:

Ideally I would like my Mum and Dad and I all to live together again, not necessarily In our old house but that would be nice.
If you can’t make it so that we all live together, perhaps you could at least get Mum and Dad to stop being angry with each other and maybe even start speaking.
If that can’t happen, can you please get them to stop trying to prevent me from speaking to the other one on the telephone myself?
Also not to quiz me about what each other is doing; if they really want to know then they should talk to each other themselves and find out that way.
Oh and I don’t want to be asked to keep any more secrets.
Would it also be possible if you are going to leave me presents at both houses, to let me have different toys. The two identical Barbie dolls, DVDs, and bicycles were just a little repetitive last year and whilst it is okay having the same things at both homes, it would actually  be quite nice to take things from one house to the other (if my parents will permit it, of course).
Whilst I know this one will be beyond your control, if you or one of your elves gets the chance, can you stop me from having to eat two Christmas dinners? I don’t mind the pigs in blankets but would rather have them with baked beans than turkey and Brussels sprouts; I do think it a little mean that I get to eat my least favourite meat and vegetables twice in one day.
Finally, there is one thing that I really would like this Christmas. Can you get my parents to each give me permission to love the other one? Life would be so wonderful if they only could.

Monday, 9 December 2013


Janet is 57; her husband John is 62. They have both retired and have been living off a company pension which John had accrued before he was made redundant a few months ago. They have been married for almost 40 years but have recently separated and have agreed to divide everything equally between them including their pension income.

“The pension produces a total income of £30,000 now so we’ll each get £15,000 in the future.” Wrong, if the company pension is to be subject to a pension sharing order so as to give Janet an equal income in her own right and with immediate effect, the total income produced is likely to be less than the sum presently being paid. If John’s pension scheme does not allow Janet membership and instead, as is common, insists that she purchases a pension fund in the market place, she will generally need more than half of the value of the pension fund to do this as she is significantly younger than John and her pension will therefore be paid for longer.

“Well at least the state pension is really simple,” Janet says; “We both qualify for full basic state pensions (currently £110 per week) and they’ll both come into payment at the same time.” Wrong, state pension ages were changed for women both in 2010 and again in 2011; Janet won’t now be getting her state pension until she is 66 in 2022, although John will still receive his at 65 in 2016.

“Maybe that won’t matter too much,” thinks Janet as she’s heard that she can rely on her husband’s national insurance contribution record to claim a better pension in retirement. Wrong, that would only have the effect of increasing entitlement up to the basic level of state pension which Janet already has in her own right and as neither has earned any Additional State Pension there is nothing there to share under the current legislation either. John was “contracted out” meaning that instead of earning Additional State Pension, he paid a lower rate of National Insurance and earned a larger pension through his employer. Janet will take her share of that by sharing in John’s company scheme.

“We can solve that by John paying me half the state pension he receives, until my own pension comes into payment and then at least I’ll have caught up and we’ll both have the basic rate of state pension.” Wrong, assuming the current Pensions Bill becomes law then from April 2016 a new single tier pension (for illustrative purposes quoted as £144 per week albeit based on 2012/13 figures) will be paid and the Additional State Pension will be abolished.

John, however, will not qualify for the full payment of £144. Although  he is 65 after the proposed implementation date, he will not receive the full single tier because he has been contracted out throughout his working life and the only sum which it is guaranteed he will be paid is akin to the current basic state pension of £110 per week.

Janet, however, will receive the full higher rate, or £34 per week (based on the illustrative figure) more than John, as she has a National Insurance record of over 35 years and was never contracted out.

“Then John will rely on my National Insurance Record under the new scheme to claim a full single tier pension for himself,” comments Janet. Wrong, the new pension scheme is non-transferable and everyone will earn their own inalienable pension benefits under it.

Any wonder, we all find change difficult?

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


Relationships can be based on many things but trust and commitment spring to the forefront of my mind. I was reminded of this when on holiday last month and we came across the couple in this photograph, posing by the seafront. They were there most days, unmoving and silent, but completely trusting of and committed to the other.

How easy is it to destroy a relationship; to break that trust and commitment? How much would it take to knock your partner backwards onto the breaking waves below?

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


Little Girl has started to show a keen interest in geography. “You need to move to China’s Yunnan Province,” she told me, last night. “You’d get plenty of rest and relaxation there because they don’t need divorce lawyers.”

I raised an eyebrow incredulously, as she pointed to an article in a copy of “Geographical,” describing the matriarchal society of the Mosuo people.

Apparently men have little or no responsibility but undertake what are described as technical tasks (the equivalent of DIY perhaps), whilst women “call all the shots.” The article even gives an example of how women determine the choice of television programme to be watched and hog the remote control for the TV set.

It sounds just my kind of place, except Little Girl is right; I couldn’t work there because Mosuo men and women don’t marry. Although they have sexual relationships, they do not live together and instead maintain separate lives by each continuing to live in their mother’s home, even after they have children.

Monday, 25 November 2013


There is a growing global trend for love padlocks although as yet I have not seen any in the UK. Apparently superstition has it that if a couple inscribe their initials on a padlock, secure it to a railing and then throw away the key, their love will be locked forever. Popular sites for such are river bridges and seafronts where the keys can be jettisoned into the water below.
Should this custom spread to the various crossings over the River Skerne in Darlington, I have in mind that I mind need to acquire a set of bolt croppers in order to conclude completely for clients the process and issues arising from relationship breakdown.

Sunday, 24 November 2013


I see that during my absence on holiday the long-running High Court case between Mr and Mrs Young reached a conclusion with Mr Justice Moor finding the husband to be worth £40 million of which he awarded the wife half together with a sum of £5 million towards her legal costs of £6.5 million.
Now most people might think that the outcome appears fair and certainly sufficient to satisfy most wives. Mrs Young, however, had argued that her husband is worth “billions”, whilst Mr Young sought to maintain that he is penniless and to hide behind a bankruptcy order, purportedly dismissing a previous offer of £300 million to settle the case out of court as a bad joke on his part.
The figures in this case are, of course, substantial. Bankruptcy and/or hidden assets are nonetheless a feature of many cases. Lawyers will endeavour to make clients aware of the risks of pursuing cases with no guarantee of success, in circumstances where courts can only make awards based on cogent evidence. Also beware the Pyrrhic victory, discovering and identifying funds only for them to be clawed back by the taxman, Trustee in Bankruptcy or in settlement of a criminal confiscation order.
On paper and despite the extent of her costs, Mrs Young appears to be in pocket. However, she still has to be paid by her husband, a man who has already spent time in prison for failing to comply with court orders concerning disclosure of his financial arrangements. It may be therefore that complex enforcement proceedings (including abroad) now beckon, again at high cost and with a lack of guaranteed outcome.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


The practice of tree marriage, reputedly practised by some Hindus in central India, has been actively discouraged only now, it would seem, to be taken up by environmentalists. Hence the reports of the wedding at the weekend between Richard  Torres, a Peruvian actor, and a tree dressed suitably for the occasion in a white tie.
Now I may be being cynical here but, as a divorce lawyer, should I be investing in orchards or even forests with a view to encouraging this practice? Also, does anyone know if there’s a legal procedure for divorcing a tree?

Thursday, 7 November 2013


I found myself idly flicking through a book called “How to Survive Retirement” by Clive Whichelow and Mike Hoskins today. It was one of those little square books that people stuff into Christmas stockings or give to each other as humorous gifts.
It had some very interesting ideas, but the one that caught my eye was a warning in relation to the need to make friends to satisfy the need to talk and avoid loneliness. Don’t be over friendly with the postman, it advised. Wise words indeed; not just for the retired but also for anyone at home when their spouse is working!

Sunday, 29 September 2013


It seems that the Conservative party believes that marriage is the bedrock of society. So much so, that it is pledging a tax break for married couples. Valued at £3.85 per week, it is hard to determine whether it intends it as a reward, an inducement or a sticking plaster.
With a current divorce rate in excess of 40%, then if the Conservatives are correct about the bedrock, society must be crumbling.
£3.85 might go some way to providing wallpaper to paste over the cracks, so long as they are not so big that they need filler, of course. Alternatively it might just stretch to a ball of twine or a pot of adhesive, assuming that the society we desire really is one held together by the monetary equivalent of string and glue.

Sunday, 8 September 2013


I spotted this notice on a stroll along the harbour front at a popular seaside town yesterday. 

I want one too!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013


Yesterday a Tory peer who shall forever after be known as Lord Howeller had the audacity to describe the North East of England as desolate. Further and as a consequence he claimed that it is ideally suited for fracking, the controversial method of natural gas extraction.
Those of us who live in this unspoiled area of the country with its three National Parks and areas of outstanding beauty could hardly believe what he had said. Suffice to say the local newspapers have had a field day at his expense dismissing the comments as those of an ignorant Southerner.
Desolate is defined as meaning bleak and dismal emptiness or else: forlorn; lonely; solitary; deserted; devastated. It is an adjective that could be better applied to many of those experiencing the trauma of marriage break-up.
Does the Honourable Lord believe that such people too should be kicked when they are desolate, rather than helped and supported? Perhaps he supports the recent changes in our legal aid system, depriving large numbers of people living in the North East (as well as elsewhere) from representation by and access to lawyers when going through divorce. Sadly the attitude fits so many of those in high office at the present time.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013



The birth of the Royal baby clearly dominated news reports last week and in its wake fellow family lawyers have, of course, been blogging about children, contact disputes and the pressures and strains that young children can place a marriage under.
Always one to be a little obtuse, I have to confess that the news reports inadvertently prompted me to play a game of word association instead.
As a result Royal baby became Royal jelly and then obviously Royal jelly baby, meaning that I’ve been haunted by and fantasising about those little jelly sweeties with their round green and red tummies sprinkled with icing sugar. The craving got so strong at one point that I even wondered if I could be pregnant myself!
I’m pleased to report however that the intuitive word association game managed to move on a stage today when I read reports about a jelly fish invasion. With warnings not to touch them because of their powerful stings, any maternal cooings on my part over a newborn have been quickly dispelled.
Now I know nobody likes Government health warnings (nanny state and all that) but perhaps there are some life events that should carry such: a baby is for life (or certainly at least 18 years) and not just for Christmas; you can only get out of marriage by death or divorce; divorce, like babies, costs a lot and not just in monetary terms...

Friday, 21 June 2013


Problems in your relationship; forget talking about it: get yourself to the doctor or pharmacist instead. Yes that seems to be the outcome of studies by researchers at the University of Oxford, joining the Universities of Israel and Zurich in labelling the hormone oxytocin as nature’s answer to super glue when it comes to relationships. Administered as a nasal spray, it has been found to make couples happier. In this world of crazy Government policy perhaps we’ll find the Ministry of Justice being licensed to dispense prescriptions next.  

Thursday, 13 June 2013


On 29th June, this blog will reach its sixth anniversary. When it first started, I had read about the dreaded affliction known as Blogger’s Block but have fortunately rarely succumbed, having decided that daily entries would always be beyond me anyway. I confess that things have slipped of late. However, as we head towards six years, I thought I had best make amends and get back to the old keyboard.
So, it is with a sense of pride that I want to tell you about 4 splendid ladies in our family law team at Macks. They got into training a little while ago to run the Race for Life in Darlington last Sunday and raise funds for Cancer Research at the same time. They ran together as a team (linking hands for much of the route) and in the end all crossed the finishing line within one second of each other. Four days later and they are still exhilarated, already planning their next race.
I thought of their exhilaration when I read the recent release from the Office for National Statistics on What Matters Most toPersonal Well Being. On the national happiness scale, married couples and those in civil partnerships fare higher than single people including divorcees. It seems that having someone to hold hands with really does make us smile. Ah, if only life were that simple.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013



Dealing with difficult people was the theme for a training course that I attended today. There was no role play, although the opportunity to be objectionable and cantankerous was clearly relished by many. Instead there was ample opportunity for interaction by the trainer and the participants who were all collaborative lawyers practising in the North East and who are always keen to hone their soft skills.
During the course of the session it materialised that, for many of us, difficult people are not so much clients going through the trauma of a relationship breakdown but rather the solicitor acting for our client’s estranged spouse. The difficult professional is not, of course, a collaboratively trained lawyer but instead someone who can create even more mayhem to what is already a delicate but confused situation, simply by flexing an inflated ego, be it his own or his client’s. The wrong choice of phrase in a letter, a bullying strategy, an unnecessarily aggressive stance and the warming up of muscles for a fight are classic traits. They expect fire to be met with fire and the process of resolution in the best interests of the whole family is seriously undermined.
However, as result of the assistance of coach  Andrew Pearce from Prydale Partners, such combatants can in future expect their tactics to be met with disabling responses. Never underestimate the power of silence, body language or a collaborative practitioner who knows the secrets for securing control.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


"My husband’s name is George,” sighed my client. “He had a mother with a sense of humour.”
“Pardon?” I asked.
“George: after the patron saint of Merry England (whose day it is today),” she replied, pausing mid- sentence.
I awaited her explanation with curiosity. Was she going to tell me that he slays dragons?
“The patron saint of England,” she repeated “And also of Portugal, Malta, Germany and Lithuania, not to mention of syphilis, and for which I want to petition him for divorce!”

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


As a 10 day period of apparent national mourning comes to a close, I thought now would be a prudent moment to ponder as to any influence Lady Thatcher may have had on my own work as a divorce lawyer. Whilst her own late husband was a divorcee, I honestly have no idea as to her views on the issue. Perhaps therefore it would be better to consider the matter from the perspective of divorcees and what they may have learned from the former Prime Minister’s legacy and her reputation as the Iron Lady. Indeed how did she come to be known as such?
It is fair to say that unlike many of the ordinary people that I divorce, I find it impossible to recall Mrs Thatcher posing with an iron or even to imagine her going about mundane household chores whilst holding high office.
Further and whilst accredited with providing the impetus for the tearing down of the Iron Curtain, I doubt if that’s what earned her the title. Although many a divorcee has stripped bare their marital home whilst their spouse has been out, the ferrying away of light fittings and curtains is hardly akin to the liberation of Eastern Europe.
On my own part, I had the privilege to grow up in Consett, an iron and steel town in the North West of County Durham. Or rather it was an iron and steel town until the policies pursued by Mrs Thatcher’s government closed the steel works and left a community of 36,000 people without any obvious form of employment. Our school motto (in Latin, of course) translated as “from out of iron comes forth steel.” I hesitate to think that the Iron Lady earned her name on the back of closing Consett’s steel works; irony at its worst, if it was.
No it came clearly from her single minded and robust determination to pursue her policies through to the end. “The Lady’s not for turning,” she famously said.
Perhaps that’s where there is a connection with some estranged spouses; those who embark on what can be an embittered and highly divisive strategy for resolving financial and property issues, as well as the future well-being of their children.
However, in my experience, by far the majority seek to divorce with dignity. Tactics that may be vote-winners in politics have no place in the resolution of family issues. Collaboration and the ability to see issues from both sides, not intransigence, is always the key.

Monday, 1 April 2013



Ahead of the legal aid cuts due to take effect today, family law practitioners have reiterated concerns that vulnerable people will be left without proper legal advice and support during divorce.
Resolution, the country’s largest association of family law practitioners, has repeatedly warned of the devastating effects of the legal aid cuts, which will result in 200,000 people a year being denied access to justice. Legal aid will remain available to support many victims of domestic violence and a further limited number of people for mediation, which Resolution supports as a non-court based approach to resolving family disputes.
However, mediation is not a one-size-fits-all solution: for it to be successful, both parties need to agree to engage. Where one party is not willing, there is no support available. As a result, many people will be forced to represent themselves, sometimes in court (known as ‘litigants in person’), acting without legal advice.
Speaking on the day that changes to the legal aid regime come into force, Resolution’s Chair, Liz Edwards, said:
“Our members know from experience that most clients do not know what kind of financial settlement they are entitled to or have to provide.
This is essentially a false economy, as the weaker partner is left with an inadequate settlement and is pushed into reliance on benefits, shifting the costs to other areas of public spending. This will ultimately place a greater burden on the public purse.
These cuts fail families and run counter to the government’s stated aim of putting children and families at the heart of policy. The effects will be particularly damaging for the children in divorce cases, particularly those from poor backgrounds."
Divorce and separation is always a difficult time but it need not be long, drawn out and excessively expensive. There are constructive and affordable ways to reach agreement and Resolution members can help separating families focus on the needs of the children and keep disputes out of the courtroom.
The Legal Services Commission (which is being abolished and replaced with the Legal Aid Agency as of today) has indicated that there will be strict limits on a legal aid firm’s ability to take on work beyond that initially allocated. People who remain eligible for legal aid may therefore experience difficulty locating a legal aid lawyer to represent them as fewer practitioners are able to provide legal aid. Access to justice risks becoming a postcode lottery.
While Resolution and other leading organisations successfully convinced the government to ensure that victims of domestic violence will still be able to access proper legal advice, victims still face many hurdles. They will be expected to present evidence in support of their claim but for many this may not be practically possible. Fees may also be charged to provide some types of evidence, for example a GP’s report, placing additional financial pressures on domestic abuse sufferers.

Thursday, 7 March 2013


As the case of Vicky Pryce showed today marital coercion, a little used defence available only to married women and dating back to 1925, may be of little assistance in repudiating a criminal charge. Indeed there have been many calls for it to be repealed and today’s verdict will have done little to justify its continuing existence.
Vicky Pryce’s defence to a charge of perverting the course of justice was of course that she was coerced by Chris Huhne, her philanderer of a husband, to accept speeding points on her licence when he in fact was the driver of the car. Sadly the speeding offence happened way back in 2003 but when Mr Huhne left her in June 2010, Ms Pryce appears to have sought her revenge. She went to the Press and it seems somewhat effectively and as a result has destroyed not only her husband’s career as an MP but also now her own as an economist. They are both waiting what will potentially be sentences of imprisonment.
As a divorce lawyer it is common to come across clients who are so embittered by the lot they have been thrown that they embark on a spiral of self-destruction. Whilst the vitriol may be aimed at the estranged spouse, ultimately it harms them both.
If there is any lesson that can be drawn from the evidence given in court at this trial, it surely has to be that you do yourself no service by washing dirty linen in public. Further and if you have both behaved dishonestly and in contravention of the law then do not expect that you can stitch him up without also facing the consequences yourself.

Thursday, 28 February 2013


So the media today would have us believe that divorce lawyers overcharge, based on a report issued by the Legal Ombudsman.
Not all the comments made in the report are being repeated in the media.  Whilst it transpires that complaints to the Legal Ombudsman are higher for divorce than any other area of law, the report acknowledges that “divorce can be a deeply emotional event” and that “strong emotions can naturally colour and shape the customer’s approach to their legal service.” Indeed it is stated that “Often," and I stress that word “often,” “lawyers are able to guide customers sensitively through the emotional and practical minefield that is the divorce process.” Conversely it states “there are some occasions where the quality of service falls short.”
The main reason for complaint would appear to relate to costs. All solicitors must give their clients an estimate of likely costs when they are first consulted, but this is not normally a fixed quote. In circumstances where the divorce process, particularly when coupled with issues concerning children, money or property can become very complex (not least because it involves two people often with very different views as to what the outcome must be) the Ombudsman stresses that estimates need to be “hedged around with caveats” and that customers must be “regularly updated.”
The report points out those costs can spiral especially where cases are prolonged and bitterly disputed. “Good lawyers, the majority of those with whom we deal,” it is acknowledged, “manage …with admirable deftness”  and where the lawyers “has clearly done everything possible to dissuade the customer from pursuing an unachievable objective or unreasonable course of action…the customer has to take responsibility for the outcome.”
Indeed the report concludes that “As hard as it must be to keep emotions in check, the lessons from this report all point towards the necessity for divorcing couples to try.” A failure to do so can, according to the findings, “cause a difference of between £10,000 and £50,000 worth of legal fees”. These are altogether different levels of costs than the £1300, quoted by the media from the report, of average costs for a straight forward divorce.
Ultimately anyone seeking a divorce is obviously recommended to use their solicitor for the legal and not the emotional aspects of the matter; keep their emotions in check; instruct a lawyer who has been recommended to them or someone whose credentials they have checked; ensure they understand how and what they will be charged and keep tabs on the amount they spend.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


I am intrigued by reports today that there are plans afoot for a  manned space  mission to Mars in 2018. Even more so by the fact that and in order to represent humanity it is hoped that a middle-aged couple can be identified to share a 15 square metre capsule  for the duration of the 500 day journey, accompanied by more than a tonne of dehydrated food and 28kg of toilet paper.
Has experience as a divorce lawyer turned me into an old cynic or is this not the perfect recipe for divorce? Cooped up together in such close proximity for more than 18 months, it is going to take a very special couple to survive that experience with their marriage intact.
Come to think of it will interplanetary space travel be the next big stress to cause a boom in divorces? How long in effect before the honeymoon on the moon receives an “up Uranus” ending?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013


In March last year “Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation” was published. In it the author, Rachel Cusk, attempts to chronicle her attempt at rebuilding normality after her 10 year marriage falls apart.
The book is widely criticised for repeated and allegedly pointless references to Greek mythology as well as self-indulgence. Needless to say it failed to make it to the Bestsellers’ List.
Today, however, Camilla Long from the Sunday Times has received the Hatchet Job of the Year Award for her review of the book in which she describes it as “acres of poetic whimsy and  vague literary blah, a needy, neurotic mandolin solo of reflections on child sacrifice and  asides about drains” in which the author “tramples anyone close to her especially [her husband] Clarke.” Pretty much like any divorcee’s diary then!
It is hardly a fair subject for a damning review when one hopes that the author at least found therapy in the act of writing. However with a prize of a golden hatchet and a year’s supply of potted shrimps, there are surely any number of reviewers queuing to put forward their own extreme critique on the literary offerings presented to them. Divorcees beware and keep your private thoughts locked away, especially if committed to paper.

Sunday, 10 February 2013


All the current fuss about horsemeat takes me back to once upon a time when I acted for a client, let’s call him Mr Orson Cart. (I stress, of course, that any resemblance to anyone alive or dead of this name is totally coincidental.)  
Mr Cart was a polite and distinguished gentleman whose marriage had descended into a difficult period following the birth of a fourth child. When I first met him, he complained that his wife who was a lover of all things equine was forever putting her horses before the Carts. He had repeatedly asked her to sell them but to no avail.
A meeting or two later, I detected a sense of paranoia when he told me that the horses had disappeared. I assumed that his wife had finally sold them but Mr Cart was not so sure. It transpired that his wife had organised a barbecue two or three days after their disappearance and, when he’d commented how good her homemade burgers tasted, she’d done no more than smile.  
The next day he had awoken with a severe case of “the trots” and realising that his wife may have referred to filly steak as opposed to fillet, he was convinced that he had been poisoned. He duly visited his GP, who sympathised and advised him that he should watch what he ate.
I asked Mr Cart what action he wished me to take concerning the matter. However, he told me that I would have to wait for further instructions because, on doctor’s orders, he was going to Epsom to watch The Derby!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


The recent discovery of Richard III’s skeleton has already got conspiracy theorists and cynics whispering. Is it really feasible that DNA from reputed descendants can link rotting bones to a King killed in battle over 500 years ago?
I  got into conversation with a client in town today when the subject came up.
Once upon a time she had instructed me in relation to proving paternity of her young son. She was adamant that only one man could have been the father of her child. When the results of the DNA tests were received, she was, therefore, completely dumbfounded as they totally exonerated him from fathering her child; their genetic make-up being completely incompatible. After satisfying ourselves as to the identity of the person who gave the sample and the circumstances in which it was given, financial constraints and economic good sense dictated against pursuing matters further. My client, however, continues to maintain that DNA sampling, despite scientific assurance, is deeply flawed.
“I see they’re still at it,” she commented cheerily, as we talked on a wind-blown street.
“Pardon?” I replied.
“The DNA lot. They’ve just dug up a heap of bones in a car park and reckon they’ve found Richard III. Well, the last laugh’s on me; that was no King; it was that hapless lover of mine with whom I got even. I stabbed him in the head repeatedly then drove to Leicester and buried him next to my car one dark night. I always knew they’d never be able to trace my DNA to make the link.”
I think she was joking.

Monday, 21 January 2013


When you meet a client for the first time and they tell you that they want a 7 letter outcome for a permanent separation, you suspect that they either love solving or alternatively compiling crosswords.

When you suggest they should be looking for parity, you know your hunch is correct if they reply: “That will be me at a soiree.”

However when they say to you, “That’s my FILE we are talking about,” you have been taught the most important anagram that a divorce lawyer needs to know.