Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Ethics of Dating During Divorce

People often ask:

“Can I date now that we’ve started divorce proceedings?”

The answer most often is:


Amicable divorces can be turned into acrimonious divorces overnight if your spouse finds out. At the very least it will complicate financial issues and lead to questions concerning prospective cohabitation. It can also affect the divorce itself, because behaviour after divorce proceedings have commenced is relevant.

Divorce is one of the most traumatic events an adult can go through and as such has an impact on your own, and your spouse’s behaviour. So, even if your spouse has left you for someone else, expect a reaction if you start the dating game yourself. Divorce turns the most rational, fair minded, individual into an irrational twin.


If so, they will not want to know about any new person in your life. A suitable period of at least six months after the divorce is finalised is fair to them. Do not burden your children, no matter how mature, with your emotional and financial worries. They will not be able to support you in this and their insecurity will be magnified by your confidences. Expect regression and bad behaviour, or worse, the perfectly behaved child desperately trying to make everything right.


Even if you have met your soul mate (or you think you have) tact, discretion, diplomacy and patience are called for. Explain the circumstances and ask them to wait. Concentrate your efforts on resolving matters with your spouse as quickly and amicably as possible. Then you are free, to do as you please and get back into forging your future.

Divorce Epidemic?

The Daily Mail reports that having your friends divorcing encourages you to do the same.

There is a theory that you become like the 5 people you spend the most time with! I have found this to be true in my own life and only after you have got rid of negative influences such as gossips and heavy drinkers do you realise how much they influenced your own behaviour.

Behaviour is a habit. Eating, thinking, exercising, all can be changed dramatically after three weeks of making yourself act differently, suddenly it will require no effort whatsoever.

Want to change something? The hardest thing is the first small step - after that it is easy. The next time someone wants to talk negatively about someone else - change the subject. Do you really want to spend any of your time on this planet discussing other people? It's boring and will drag you down. Focus instead on people you admire. List five. Can't think of five? Time to change your friends!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How do the courts deal with Parental Alienation?

A recent case has shown how impossible it is to change a child who has decided he wants nothing to do with one of his parents. The Independent reports in the case of Re S that a heartbroken father has given up and has agreed by Consent that the child, who is 12, should live with his mother.

The judge had ordered a transfer of Residence and, given the child's refusal and extreme hostility towards his father, he was placed in foster care. There was then concern that the child was becoming depressed - was anyone surprised? The child also refused to communicate with his father and his extended family and was uncooperative on scheduled visits.

The Court was of the view that the hostility towards his father had been created by the child's mother, and the child would suffer less harm if he was made to live with the father. However, it was too late, the child was suffering significantly in care and he was allowed to go back to live with his mother. No doubt she was overjoyed!! The father now only has indirect contact.

The above case has been to the Court of Appeal, has taken up a lot of Court time and money and has been an experiment in social engineering. The parents did not live near to each other, so the boy was to lose touch with his whole peer group as well, just as he was approaching teenage years. The distance of two hours, from everyone he held dear at the age of 12 was predictably too much to bear. Perhaps, in future, a parent seeking a transfer of residence should be ordered to move to the child's locality?

There is a small ray of hope. The boy's Guardian in her email to the judge added that the boy stated " this is not the end" and that he would consider seeing his father after his GCSE's. A lot of pain, time and effort expended by a large group of professionals resulting in some small progress then.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

So that's why you want a divorce!

The Daily Mail reports that "ambivalence may be the reason many people divorce. The article states that people cannot cope with conflicting emotions - one minute they think their partner is perfect and the next they hate them and can't stand the sight of them. The solution they suggest is to work through these emotions - which will pass and accept your partner and relationship and expect matters to improve.

Sounds a bit daft to me. When you get to the stage where you hate the other person coming through the door at night, seems mighty unlikely that that emotion will simply pass. A lot of people try to weather the storm and, by the time they leave the relationship, sometimes years after, they could not bear the sight of their partner!! The relationship is virtually irretrievable. It is also not good for children to live in an atmosphere of resentment and dislike. I know some people who are waiting for their spouse to die. How sad is that? I know one woman who died first! How even sadder is that?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Breakdown in Cohabitation?

Lawyers are receiving more enquiries from cohabiting couples seeking to end their relationship as reported in The Law Society Gazette. There has been a reported increase in Children Act Applications to preserve the family home for the children.

The recession is to blame apparently. Given that cohabitation is more likely to break down than marriage, I consider that the main difference now is that people are seeking alternative legal solutions. It used to be rare to make a Children Act Application for one party to remain in the home until the children are 18. Now, it appears the standard advice to the resident parent. The previous Government put on hold any change to Cohabitation Law (ie there is still no such thing) stating that they would observe the success or otherwise of the system in Scotland.

If you are unmarried, it is possible to make an application to the Court to delay the sale of the home until the youngest child is 18, only then will the non resident partner get his share of the equity upon sale. Success is dependent upon the individual facts of the case and an unsuccessful application can result in a costs order being made against you.

What is the advice to give to people in the meantime:

1. If you are the non earning partner and have children or not, get married.

2. If you are the earning partner, with children or not, do not get married. If you do get married have a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.
Some solicitors are suggesting that Civil Partnership Agreements should be extended to heterosexual couples. Why? My understanding of a Civil Partnership Agreement is that it is a marriage in everything but name, given the religious sensitivities, and that this Government may well relabel it as Marriage. So cohabitees will be able to take advantage of the new law and ...... get married!!!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Do you secretly want your children to hate your ex?

There is such a thing as covert parental alienation. It is subtle, but real never the less.


1. Refusing to let your child speak to the other parent when he calls such excuses as " he's doing homework" or "watching TV"

2. Arranging fun things to do as a tempting alternative when the child should be with the other parent.

3. Suggesting that you will be lonely and sad when the child is with the other parent.

4. Refusing to be flexible on contact arrangements.

5. Making holiday arrangements difficult.

6. Refusing to let the child go for contact if he has the slightest health issue, such as a cold.

These subtle alienation techniques can rapidly degenerate into hostile parenting:

You know when you are being unreasonable but here a few obvious examples which cause children extreme emotional damage and harm:

1. Undermining and criticising the other parent to the child.

2. Blaming the other parent for your poor financial situation and comparing life styles " If your dad loved you he'd take you on holiday instead of his girlfriend ".

3. Interfering in contact - continually ringing the child to check he is ok and hence suggesting to the child that there is a possibility his father (and it is usually the father) cannot care for him properly.

4. Preventing the child spending important memorable days such as Fathers day, birthdays and Christmas with the father.

5. Involving the child in the divorce and sharing details of the settlement and negotiations with the child.

6. Asking the child to lie to the other parent.

7. Interrogating the child as to what the other parent is doing.

The list can run to over 40 different hostile behaviours, and the parent typically succeeds in destroying a previously good, loving relationship and causing extensive emotional harm to their own child, whilst insisting that it is all the fault of their ex.

Research into adults who have lived through such abuse can be compared to cult survivors. Those who work it out for themselves have better outcomes, usually reject the hostile parent and with therapy are able to escape the cycle for their own children.

One scary outcome of extensive research is that a number of the adults aligned themselves with the parent with power, not the parent best able to look after their well being and a significant percentage reported sexual, physical and emotional abuse at the hands of the alienating parent.

Still want to tell your child his dad is a loser?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Is it worth having a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?


As the law stands they are one of the factors that the Court can take into account in deciding what is a fair settlement based on the individual case facts.

If you are the party with assets it is better to have one than not.

There is a Case which the Supreme Court is about to announce it's judgement on - Radmacher - a German heiress and this may tip the balance either way. There is a general expectation that the Supreme Court will make Pre-Nuptial Agreements more likely to be enforceable because Judges have spoken out suggesting that Parliament should do so. However, I will not be placing a bet on the outcome...

There are lots of people around, divorced and unhappy who wish that they were binding, and who probably also wish that they had taken one out and that they had never married!! No doubt there are an equal amount of people around, pleased with their settlement who are also pleased that they were not binding!!!

The level of uncertainty in English Matrimonial Law is exacerbated by the current situation!! David Cameron wants to encourage and support marriage, but must understand that a lot of people choose not to marry because of the potential financial loss they face if the relationship ends. Endorsing Pre-Nuptial Agreements might help increase marriage! I would bet on that!!