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Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

Lighten Up

You’ve got to laugh in this job or else… A little bit of black Wednesday humour

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snake

the aptly named rat snake (thanks to Cotinis on flickr)

Andrew Commins, a colleague in chambers, has written an interesting article for Family Law Week on the impact of remarriage on variation applications by the ex spouse. I particularly like the mental image described in the extract from Delaney v Delaney [1991] 2 FLR 457, CA, that the court will deprecate “any notion that a former husband and extant father may slough off the tight skin of familial responsibility and…slither into and lose himself in the greener grass on the other side...” (Delaney, at page 461E).

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Fork tongued husbands be warned…

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A bit Woolley…

A couple of tweets from @woolleyandco alerted me to some interesting posts on their blog: Andrew Woolley has it spot on about Baroness Deech’s curiously reality-detached approach to humiliating divorce settlements (I think she means demeaning, but anyway). “You say humiliating, I say equality…”. Doesn’t scan but you get the point. And as for the post on Baroness Deech’s remarks about grandparents’ entitlement to financial recompense for their gratis childcare – well I’ve posted previously about the political expediency of pandering to grandparents rights organisations, and all I have to add is this observation: do we really want to go down this road? If grandparents are entitled to claim maintenance from their children who ‘take advantage’ of free childcare, will the parents be able to recoup that in later years for the care they will give the elderly grandparents? Or perhaps parents should be able to recoup their childcare costs from their children’s earnings in years to come? We could all do with acknowledging how much grandparents offer their children and their grandchildren, but their contribution is more than one dimensional – financial support, childcare, time and love. And isn’t the essence of (grand)parental love that it is voluntary?

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My own parents routinely take our son for a day a week, but whilst for them they are pleased to feel they have helped us out with childcare, we are pleased to ensure that they have some quality time with their grandson. We try not to rely on it as failsafe childcare, being sensitive to when they have something else they need to do that day, but we would want to keep up this special time with grandma and granddad even when we aren’t at work. For my son Monday is Ga-mma day. It’s not a transaction we could quantify with money. That would be demeaning. I do see the arguments for being able to claim working tax credits childcare element if a grandparent is giving up a large chunk of their week and is prevented from earning money through other work (although I also see the difficulties with it), but to create maintenance obligations between different tiers of family members just undercuts the whole notion of family helping family – politicians are obsessed with trying to strengthen the family and ‘mend’ society, reducing the family to a set of financial obligations or contracts is not going to help cement our society together or make our children happier.

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As a footnote, its heartening to see that what I would call a ‘marketing blog’ can still be an interesting read, and can contain some real and insightful opinion. If a blog is worth doing it has to contain some human input and not just be an endless stream of advertorial. Whilst Woolley and Co have clearly invested heavily in their online media marketing strategy, they are doing it well. So many other firms are doing it badly.

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Facebook Divorce

Thanks to @nickbilton for the RT of this story in The Telegraph about the number of online divorces citing facebook as a contributory factor. In fact the headline is ‘Facebook Fuelling Divorce Research Claims’ with a strapline of ‘Facebook is being cited in almost one in five of online divorce petitions, lawyers have claimed’.

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I don’t doubt that as a general proposition facebook may be a feature of 1 in 5 online divorces. I do wonder though what support The Telegraph has for the reference in the title of the article to ‘Research’: When one reads the story it appears that in fact Divorce-Online have totted up the number of their own petitions which make reference to facebook and have come up with a figure of 1 in 5. I don’t doubt that figure, but I’m not sure it warrants a headline of ‘Research Claims’ by a national newspaper.

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There appear to be three strands to what is claimed: 1 that facebook and similar sites make inappropriate relationships easier to conduct, 2 that they present a temptation to the spouse with a roving eye, and 3 that they are the means of a spouse finding out about infidelity and subsequently a source of evidence used to prove that infidelity. Of course what Mark Keenan quite properly says is that one in five of his cases ‘make reference to facebook’ – not that one in five cases are ‘fuelled by’ facebook: contrary to the headline there is no claim (let alone research) that one in five divorces are fuelled by facebook at all.

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And on a more philosophical level – how many of those divorces can we really blame on facebook? One might reasonably suggest that rather than treating these statistics at face(book) value we need to look deeper and consider whether or not these so called facebook divorces are simply the way in in which an already failing relationship has come to end: spouses stray and spy on one another because their relationship is already damaged, has one some basic level stopped functioning. If  facebook weren’t around to blame how many of these divorces would have happened in any event?

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What odd times we live in. The Guardian reported on Saturday that hedge fund managers are now betting on the outcome of high worth ancillary relief cases by funding the litigation costs of one party in return for a largeish chunk of the prize.

Given that this is the type of arrangement which springs up where traditional sources of funding are unavailable because of the unpredictability of a return on investment, this tells us something about the lack of legal certainty available to litigants in this area of law.

Still, its a problem most of us will never have. For most of us legal certainty means the sure knowledge that our fortune is so small it is scarcely worth the legal fees. I wish my spouse or I were wealthy enough for hedge funds to be interested in taking a punt on one of us should we ever fall out. You’ll excuse me for being such poor company – I’m still getting over the disappointment of having had four numbers in Saturday’s draw only to find that my other half had read out the numbers for Wednesday’s draw. Does that count as grounds for divorce? Can I run it as conduct? Anyone fancy my chances?

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Classy: Businessman sues ex-wife for money spent on children after finding out they were not his. Hat tip to Family Lore Focus.

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Ancillary to NOTHING

Where there is no lawful marriage there is no divorce and where there is no divorce there is nothing for ancillary relief to be ancillary to. The BBC reports on the High Court ruling recently in respect of a distant beach marriage that did not create legal ties. Did this poor lady never hear of Jerry Hall? Sad story, but not in fact terribly interesting legally. What an unpleasant argument to have to run on behalf of the not-husband.

If that were a tale of the innocent deprived of their just deserts, this by contrast is a tale of a refusal by the courts to help an applicant for ancillary relief which is far less likely to arous you sympathy: this case of a paedophile convicted of sexually abusing his ex wife’s grandchildren is a rare example of conduct deemed bad enough to warrant the court refusing to exercise its discretion.

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