Thursday, May 24, 2012

Should Divorcing Couples be forced to Mediate?

The Government is keen to encourage all couples who are divorcing to attend Mediation.  They consider this better for the couple so that they can avoid the costs, both financial and emotional, of going through the Court systemWe even have High Court judges speaking out telling people they should not get divorced at all.

The Government laments the reduction in marriage and the increase in cohabitation.  The Government does not make the link that more couples are avoiding the pain of Divorce by avoiding marriage.

The Government has closed, or plans to close, up to 40% of our Courts. Is it not more honest to say to people the State does not have sufficient resource to cope with litigated Divorce rather than present Mediation as a benefit to the couple?  A panacea of  success and a remedy to the malaise of the bitter, contested divorce.

Mediation is voluntary.  To make it compulsory undermines its fundamental ethos. Mediation should be considered, as it is now, but couples should choose whether they wish to proceed.

If Mediation is to be made compulsory then Mediators need to be regulated more thoroughly and there needs to be a better vetting system.  It takes 6 years to become a solicitor. After that another 3 before you can supervise others.  It takes 3 days to train as a Mediator. You then need to be supervised for a number of hours before you can Mediate alone. Virtually anyone can train as a Mediator. The training providers have a discretion to allow those without a degree to train. Any degree?  Any background?  The quality of Mediators and their knowledge of family law varies widely.

This Mediation focus reminds me of HIPS.  A whole training industry blosoomed and made money out of individuals seeking a new career on the back of Government policy.  The Government then reversed their policy.

Records need to be kept as to how many Consent Orders are as a result of a Mediated Agreement. Mediators need to have a minimum knowledge of family law greater than the half a day provided on some courses.

Couples need to understand that the Mediator cannot give legal advice and they need to obtain legal advice from their solicitor as they proceed through the process.

Most Mediation referrals come via solicitors. A growing proportion of family law solicitors are also Mediators.  Most solicitors I know who also practice as Mediators find the process rewarding. Some have chosen to become full time Mediators. 

I beleive that Mediation can work, that the quality of the Mediator is paramount and we are looking to expand our Mediation pracitce and employ another Mediator. If people are unable to Mediate, whether both or one of the couple is against it then Mediation will not work. Unfortunately, Mediation does break down but there are inadequate statistics available to be able to properly analyse its usefulness and growth.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

She must be mad to leave me!

Some men are genuinely shocked when they receive a divorce petition.  Mr Savva from Crouch End went to the Court of Appeal to defend his divorce on the basis that his wife lacked mental capacity - if she wanted to leave him then she must be mad and needed a psychiatric assessment. He did not succeed.  The full story is reported in the Telegraph.

When my first marriage ended my husband used to come home from work later and later. I asked him to make sure he was home by 7 30pm.  I used to call him every night to make sure he had left work to start preparing the evening meal.  Then I stopped calling.  He started arriving home at 9pm and had to feed himself.  Then I divorced him and he was shocked saying he thought our marriage had improved because I had stopped nagging him and he could now do as he pleased.

So, for all you potentially surprised men out there, here are a few signs that your marriage may be over but you have not been told yet:

1. She stops nagging you - You can go on as many golfing holidays as you like, stay out all night, not text or phone her  and there is no backlash.  Unless your wife has been on a Tony Robbins weekend this is not a good sign.  This is a sign that she no longer cares what you do.

2. Your wife moves out of the bedroom - this needs no explanation. Mr Savva's wife said she had slept alone for 8 years, He said it was because of her business paperwork, she needed space, the house was a mess.  Unless you are a chronic snorer, and even then, there is only one explanation - she wants to get away from you.

3.  Your wife takes a new interest in her appearance, loses weight, new clothes, plastic surgery. If your intimate relationship is also on the slide this could be a sign she has found or is looking for someone new.

4.  Your wife has a new set of friends that she sees without you.

5.  Anything else different that makes you feel uncomfortable.  Men are not usually good at spotting these signs,but if something does not add up there is usually a reason for it.

If you are a woman the above list does not apply - men act differently when they move on and that is the subject of a future post...

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Divorce? Don't even think about it!!

The Daily Mail has a Senior High Court Judge announcing that he has launched a campaign to promote marriage.  His view on marriage:

'It involves endless hard work, compromises, forgiveness and love. However right the person is, they might not be right two years later. It doesn't matter how wonderful you appear to be to your partner at the beginning, you will begin to display faults that we all have.
'In order for a relationship to last, you have to hang in there and adjust and change and alter and understand. Long, stable marriages are carved out of the rock of human stubbornness and selfishness and difficulties.' 

He says we need to end the Hello style divorce and the increase in older couples getting divorced is disturbing - adult children in their 20s and 30s can still be hurt.  

My aunt got divorced after 40 years of marriage and misery and her 6 children all supported.  My uncle was, let's say a lovable rouge.  My aunt is now in a much happier marriage and my uncle... he is dead... Wait for someone to die then? Die miserable yourself?

People now live longer,if you are born today you can expect to live until you are 104, life is easier and the focus on survival and mutual need is gone.  Plus since the 1970s women have had equal rights. So, if you marry when you are in your early twenties (as I did) you can expect to be with your partner for 80 years.

Lots of people marry the wrong person and for the wrong reason. People change so much and can grow in opposite directions. In my experience nobody takes the decision to divorce lightly, but equally nobody regrets it.

Since my first divorce I have made it my quest to find a long term happy couple ... my parents seem to have an affectionate regard for one another but apart from that I have drawn a blank.  Again, in my experience many of those who present a united front seethe with hatred in private or live totally separate lives.

Marriage is expensive and so is divorce, emotionally as well as financially.  

What if you could marry for 10 years and then choose whether to remarry for a further 10 years or split? What if the Government made laws that made it clear what would happen to your money and your children when you split?  What if Judges offered similar judgements that we could all follow?  What if people who lived together had even limited  financial responsibility for each other on separation? What if everybody married for love? What if there were no gold diggers, wife beaters, horrid, mean controlling people, liars, cheats and thieves? What if...