Friday, 31 July 2015

An Upgrade



Yesterday I upgraded the operating system on my computer to Windows 10. I think it was that word “upgrade,” because in doing so I was reminded of the client who once upon a time told me that he was looking to upgrade his wife.

Now let’s get this clear: we might upgrade computer systems, downsize houses and recycle aluminium cans. We may even divorce spouses, but what we never do is upgrade, downsize or recycle them.


Saturday, 18 July 2015

Special Places


There are always special places for specific purposes. I imagine that somewhere there must be Mediation Towers, Collaborative Avenue and Negotiators' Nook to go with County Court that most divorcees are, of course, already familiar with.

 I'm guessing, however, that before visiting any of those places, many couples begin in Arguments Yard, which I came across  on my wanders today.


Monday, 13 July 2015

Match Point



In the last two days we have seen examples of outcomes and contrasting ways to reach a result. Depending upon your standpoint, the word humiliation may even be applied.

The Eurozone countries reached agreement over the Greek debt crisis after 17 hours of negotiations, demonstrating just how difficult reaching a consensus can be. Save in such extreme circumstances, I doubt if anyone would normally recommend overnight discussions which smack of locking the door and refusing to let anyone out until a workable solution is reached. Hanging over the negotiations was the apparent threat to force Greece out of the Eurozone, although it too had recently implied that it could leave without a fair deal.

In family proceedings face to face talks within collaboration are probably preferable, especially as in the latter case the parties agree that they will look to find answers to the issues they confront without litigation and are supported in this aim by everyone working together rather than in opposing camps. Mediation too allows much freer discussions. Any form of negotiating is, however, always open to the prospect of one party rail-roading the whole procedure with the threat of court action. Nobody should ever sign up to an agreement simply because they feel overly pressurised, negotiation-weary or frightened, without first having time to reflect on and rationalise the outcome proposed.


Otherwise and in the absence of a solution, court proceedings are inevitable. One only has to look at the Wimbledon final on Sunday between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, to understand how a court dispute resolves matters but not necessarily to both parties’ satisfaction. It is often said that in family proceedings there are no winners only losers, but the one thing that is certain is that there cannot, as that match on Centre Court surely demonstrated, be two winners.


Thursday, 9 July 2015

In the Clink



Whilst visiting Richmond (North Yorkshire) today, I came across the map above. In the bottom right hand corner it shows Clink Pond and a ducking stool. Apparently when the map was made in 1724 it was commonplace for wives who contradicted their husbands and who were therefore referred to as “scolds,” to be punished by being ducked under the water. 

The divorce process is surely preferable (although I do like the term “scolds”)!


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Grexit


Every family lawyer across the land acts for at least one client who is arguing over money.

Once upon a time, one couple, whom I shall refer to simply as Angela and Alexis, were joined in union back in 1981, over thirty years ago. On reflection it was probably not a match made in heaven, she with her Germanic work ethic and values and he with a potentially more laid back air about him. However the relationship has persisted and to the point where, after twenty years, they even agreed to a joint bank account, although it could be argued that it was always Angela who has controlled the purse strings. 

In recent years, hit by the global economic crisis, Alexis has spent half his time without employment and although Angela has allowed him to draw from the account it has been on the basis that he drastically curtails his expenditure and repays the sums taken with interest. Sadly it has become harder for him to make the payments into the account which Angela has demanded and communication has become difficult as a result, each making impossible demands on the other so far as their monetary arrangements are concerned and blackmail has even been alleged. 

Neighbours have sought to assist in bartering an agreement, but when Alexis decided to consult and involve his relatives concerning the terms proposed by Angela, she has taken umbrage and declared that there can be no deal. Uncle Jean-Claude has today asked them to compromise but they seem to be becoming more entrenched.

Who knows how it will end? Will there be reconciliation or will Alexis be forced to open his own bank account and will he be able to borrow sufficient funds to meet his financial commitments in the meantime?

Regardless of how Angela and Alexis endeavour to resolve their issues, I would predict more tears and tension in the short term; the embroilment of others around them; finally a solution, the terms of which are probably unattractive to both at this juncture but better than the stalemate that they are now in; the innate gift of self-preservation to see them through the immediate aftermath; ultimately, in due course, time as the great healer.