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.