Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Do you believe him? Scot Young on the Rack

Britain's most acrimonious divorce continues.

Scot Young is facing some tough questions.

Is he bankrupt or is he a liar hiding vast wealth?

Whatever he appears too clever for his own good.

As reported in the The Telegraph he is facing this interrogation due to financial irregularities.

What is unusual:

1. He owes people vast sums of money but they are supporting him financially.

2. Seems odd that they don't therefore lend or give him some money for legal representation.

3. He is accused of faking his own bankruptcy.

4. His wife has uncovered what appears confidential documents and  is able to rely on them.

5. He gave his daughter an old laptop. Even if he was broke this does not make sense. 

6.  His business connections and friends are being made to give evidence.

His wife is prepared to settle for £300 million and her legal fees paid. Is that a touch greedy maybe? What message does this case give to wealthy individuals contemplating marriage? 

How will they extract the money from Mr Young even if he is found to be lying? He has already shown that he is prepared to go to prison.

What if he is not lying?  How will his wife's lawyers get paid? Not sure anyone will be worrying about them but the whole case appears a gamble from both sides.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Not Bad Enough to Leave, Not Good Enough to Stay?

Some people live in relationship limboland for years. They can't decide whether to leave or stay. Their relationship is tired, they may argue, they may live separate lives, however they avoid change. Why?

Reasons people stay in relationships that are not working:

1. Fear of change.

2. Fear of loneliness.

3. Fear of the unknown.

4. Loss - of money, family, friends and social life and the life that they know.

Reasons people don't try to improve relationships that are not working:

1. Anger

2. Resentment

3. Laziness

4. Pessimism

5. Fear of change

There is a report in The Telegraph that states that divorce and separation costs the country £50 billion per annum. There is a suggestion that the government should set up a national relationship strategy, what ever that means.

In order to save money and potentially help people make an informed choice I suggest the following:

1. Make divorce easy and remove the seven step antiquated procedure and instead offer divorce on the ground that one party wants to divorce.

2. Make every couple attend one session with a relate counselor before filing the petition. Free to everyone.

Counselors do not tell people what to do, they do not tell people to leave, they do not tell people to stay in unhappy relationships. A good counselor will help people uncover whether their relationship is worth saving or whether it is over.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Child rearing - who's views prevail? Mum or Dad's?

Mum wants you to have long hair and dad short.
Mum wants you to be a vegetarian and dad thinks you need the protein from meat.
Mum wants you not to go skiing and dad wants to take you on a skiing holiday.
Mum wants you not to have treatment for your brain tumour.
Mum wants you not to see dad's girlfriend.
Dad wants you to join scouts.
Mum wants you to be brought up a strict catholic.
Mum wants you to go to private school.

The list can go on forever.  There is opportunity to argue about every aspect of a child's life and it can cause problems when couples are still together.  But what when they separate? Who wins?

Each parent has parental responsibility and has a right to their view being taken account of in important aspects of a child's life - schooling, religion.  Day to day decisions are left to the parent whom the child is with - so dad can set a different bedtime and diet if he wishes.

Some people refuse to share this parenting role and the children are put in an impossible position.

In a recent case reported in The Telegraph a mother would not allow her 5 year old son to see his father because she wanted him to be a vegetarian and was worried the father would feed him meat.  The Judge has threatened to remove the child from the mother's care if she does not support contact with the father.

Adjusting to two sets of rules is hard for children.
Living between parents who hate each other is hard for children.
Choosing between parents is hard for children.

It is obvious so one can assume that all parents know this, but for some their priorities are on punishing their ex and not their children's welfare.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Divorce for over 60's on rise...

More people over 60 are getting divorced, which is the opposite trend to the rest of the nation's age groups.

The Telegraph cites the following reasons:

1. People are living longer so don't want to stay forever in an unhappy relationship. (Not if you have another 30 years left anyway...).

2. Less stigma attached to divorce (surely that has been the case for 30 plus years?).

3. That old silver fox...  men with a wandering eye syndrome.  (I blame viagra).

I have a few ideas of my own:

1. There are more people married who are 60 plus as marriage becomes less popular so the 60 plus age group makes up a bigger slice of a diminishing cake.

2. Some of these are second or third divorces.

3. Companionship has been replaced by gadgets.

4. Relatives are now encouraging them to divorce as opposed to pressurising them to stay together.

5. Religion has lost it's standing in our society, for the white ethnic group of which a large majority of the 60 plus age group will be.

6. The state will support you again. There is a void when people's children leave home where they are  forced to be more financially independent of state support unless they are in the benefit system per se.

7. Options... the world has opened up a lot more.

Fascinating.  There are lots of reasons why people divorce at whatever age.  However, divorce can only happen when one or both parties no longer place a value on the relationship.   

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Children Lose Contact with Their Father

A recent report has stated that a total of 1 million children of England and Wales have lost  'meaningful contact' with their father upon their parents separation and divorce. 'Meaningful contact' is defined as seeing their father at least twice per year. In certain areas of Liverpool, over 60% of the households are in this group. They are brought up by single mothers and it is reported that they live in male desserts as it is reported that there is no male teachers at their primary school.

How can the government improve this new situation? There are many reasons why parents lose contact with their children;
  1. They were never involved in the first place. For example, the mother became pregnant and was not in a committed relationship.
  2. There is extreme acrimony between the parents.
  3. There is no pressure upon them either from themselves or society to maintain a committed relationship with their children.
  4. The relationship with the child has broken down either due to their behaviour or their ex-spouse's behaviour... the term parental alienation is not recognised by the courts but children can be turned against the non resident parent by the resident parent.
  5. There is a history of domestic violence.
  6. Geography, such as the mother living a long way from the father, and finances prevent contact taking place.
People are quick to judge single mothers and also non-resident fathers.

An in depth study of the profile of this group of children is needed to gather any strategic plan. If a large majority of these children are born  to mothers who have no relationship with their fathers with no means of earning to support them, why is this? Is it the fault of the benefit system or the lack of opportunity to these young girls who see having a child as their most favourable financial option? Perhaps this make it too small minority, and perhaps the vast majority of these fathers are what used to be termed as feckless. How to you prevent young men from becoming feckless? Is it too easy to create a child in today's sexually free society? So how can we turn the clock back? Is it even desirable to do so? The power of statistics taken out of context creates alarm and prejudice.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Increase in Child Abduction Cases

There is a reported increase in the number of child abduction cases:


1.  Ease of international travel results in more international relationships.

2.  Reduction in cost of international travel.

3. Increased reporting in the media.  In the past a number of people may have been victims without the resources or knowledge to seek help.  Social media helps bring matters to the public's attention, quickly and cheaply.
If you are in an international relationship and you fear the risk of child abduction exists what can you do? 
    1. Get legal advice immediately.  This is one area of law where delay can be fatal to the future outcome

    2.If your ex partner lives in a country which is a signatory to the Hague Convention then an application to return the child to their country of residence is likely to succeed.  This means that the courts  local to the child's home will decide where the child will live.

    However, speed is critical as there are a  number of defences which include acquiescence and the child having a new established place of residence.

    3.  If you suspect your child is about to be abducted border alerts can be put in place and you can obtain the return of the child's passport.
     This is a highly complex area of law.

    If you are the victim of child abduction it is likely that you will be eligible for free legal advice in England and Wales

    As in most things - prevention is better than cure so seek advice as soon as you suspect your partner or ex partner is contemplating abducting your child. 

      Tuesday, June 11, 2013

      Why Do I Need a Consent Order?

      In a recent case ( Vince v Wyatt), a former traveller, whom at the time of his divorce was on state benefits, had the unwelcome news that his ex wife was seeking a share of his  multi-million pound fortune 20 years after they had divorced. After they separated in 1984, he had set up an eco-green telephone system which became popular at Glastonbury and his company Ecotricity Ltd. subsequently expanded to be worth £90 million pounds. His ex wife sought a share of this and via an initial application at the High Court sought payment from him in advance for her legal fees at £150,000.

      Her ex husband went to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal agreed that this was an abuse of process. That the ex husband had no prospect of winning his payment for her legal fees back even if he had won on the claim she made against him. The ex-wife, was still on benefits and her life had remained one of poverty.

      Unlike civil proceedings where there is statutory limitations limiting claims to 6 years, in matrimonial finances there is no long stop date. However, the Court of Appeal pointed out that the court will not consider flimsy and unmeritorious claims. The parties have made a mistake of not obtaining a Consent Order upon divorce and finalising their claims,  however the length of delay since the divorce was so extreme that the court held that it was unreasonable and unlikely that the wife could succeed on making her claim against her husband. 

      This case highlights the situation that if your finances are to improve in the future, you do risk  your ex-spouse coming back for a share if you do not have a clean break Consent Order upon divorce. The ex husband succeeded in having the ex wife's claim strike out however, he still had substantial legal costs to get to that stage; and the stress of going to court and facing the risk of potentially losing half his fortunate was an unwanted stress. His solicitor stated that her client had been put in an impossible position.

      It is therefore important to get a clean break Consent Order upon divorce if you and your partner have no assets or substantial earning capacity in order to remove the possibility of the above scenario. If you have assets and a reasonable income the chances of your ex-spouse making an application to court at a future date and succeeding is considerably higher. It is therefore even more important to ensure that matters are finalised upon divorce. Many people consider this to be unnecessary as they are not interested in their ex-spouses and have no interest in their money, however people change so circumstances change, and the costs of dealing with the matter later are far worse than dealing with it at the appropriate time.

      Thursday, April 18, 2013

      Any point in having a Consent Order on Divorce?

      One compelling reason:

      Legal finality.

      What are the problems if I don't have one?

      Your ex spouse can come back at any time in the future and make a claim against you, regardless of how much money you have given them to go away, regardless on how fair your agreed division was.

      A recent case where the couple had been divorced over 10 years and the husband won the lottery resulted in him having to make a lump sum payment to his wife.

      If you remarry without opening your claim (ie you are the Respondent to the divorce and do not defend nor   issue a financial application) you lose all rights to make a claim on your own remarriage.

      What's the problem with that?  There was a case last year where the husband was due to receive a share of the matrimonial assets and remarried before the Consent Order was sealed by the court and lost his rights to his share.

      I explain what a Consent Order is here

      What is a Consent Order?

      We offer a fixed fee service here

      Fixed Fee Consent Order

      Wednesday, April 10, 2013

      Is there any divorce news out there?

      Most of the news is gloomy.

      End of legal aid for many.

      Rich divorcing couples told off by judges for squabbling and squandering their money on legal fees.

      News of a divorce advice desert.

      The death of Margaret Thatcher.

      Divorce lawyers blamed for... fill in the gap.

      In the middle of all this some people are having to go through divorce.  Not through choice. What should you do?

      1.  Make a list of everything that you are worried about.

      2. Write down what you want to happen.

      3. Research the options

      4. Focus on when your life will be better.

      My advice:

      Anxiety and indecision are debilitating and the best way to reduce your fear of the future is to work out what the options are - worst case and best case and accept that life is about to change.

      Get some good legal advice.  You don't have to follow it but at least you know what the limits are.  Choosing not to fight feels better if you know that your chances of success were high but you are more interested in moving on.  Giving in feels better if you know your chances of success are low.

      In many situations it is all about emotion.

      Guilt, anger, fear, shame, disappointment. Acquiring governance over your emotional state is a skill - and I don't mean burying your emotions as in the stiff upper lip brigade.

      I mean recognise and acknowledge how you feel and then control, not suppress it. Your feelings, like everything else, will change.

      Only when you can do this are you able to properly focus on dividing everything you thought was yours for life.  It's not easy but the alternative - a life of bitterness, anger and regret is worse.

      Tuesday, April 02, 2013

      Fixed fee Divorce from COOP is it what it says on the tin?

      The COOP have obtained a lot of press interest today - the day after Legal Aid is withdrawn by claiming that they offer fixed fee legal advice unlike other solicitors.

      They quote people being dissatisfied by the ticking clock and some people pay in excess of £10,000.00 for their divorce.  But is it really any different with the COOP or is this a classic case of calling a spade a banana? Sorry I mean comparing apples and pears. Let's compare our fixed fee divorce with your litigated financial application maybe and see which one is cheaper ?

      They say other solicitors need to catch up with them.

      They offer a fixed price divorce for £570.00.

      We have been offering fixed fee divorce since April 2006

      Fixed Fee Divorce Bastows Divorce Solicitors

      The people who paid more than £10,000.00 in legal fees were no doubt litigating over the finances.

      The COOP will charge £210.00 for advice over the telephone and £180.00 for an additional hour of advice.

      How much do they charge for court representation?

      They don't quote for court representation but they do offer a fixed fee up to the first hearing of £3,600.00 including initial negotiation plus £600.00 to instruct an expert ( I hope they mean barrister and not McKenzie friend but it states expert and there is no fee quoted)

      So with the COOP it will cost you £4,200.00 up to the first hearing without representation. Plus you probably have to pay the first £210 or £180 of initial advice. That plus £570.00 for the divorce gives nearly £5,000.00 before you even get to court for the first time.

      It is easy to see that the COOP will end up charging more than £10,000.00 if the matter progresses, £1,800.00 in between each hearing and no quotation for court representation.

      AS reported in  Legal Futures

       CLS’s director of policy, solicitor Christina Blacklaws, said: “These individuals are going through major life changing decisions and it’s vital they get the advice they need without worrying about costs spiralling.”

      Given that the costs of having the COOP advise you (not represent you) up to a final hearing are probably £9,570.00 plus representation at 3 hearings then this is more than the £10,000.00 complained of.

      There is also concern that the advice people are paying for is not from a legally qualified solicitor as their website talks of "Legal experts".

      There is another website that talks about expert advice that has handled over 100,000 divorces.  It is an on line divorce company. It is a lot cheaper than the COOP. It makes no secret of the fact that it's expert advice is not given by solicitors. To go back to my original turn of phrase "It does what it says on the tin."  

      Sunday, March 31, 2013

      What will Divorce Solicitors do now?

      From tomorrow Legal Aid will be removed from most divorce applications.  Couples disputing their finances, the divorce itself and contact and residence applications for their children will no longer be able to access legal advice via public funding.

      The exceptions which remain:

      1. Forced marriage
      2. Children being taken into care
      3. Reported domestic violence - either an injunction has been sought or the police are investigating the allegations

      So what will all these out of work divorce lawyers do?:

      1. Care work
      There has been a dramatic increase in Care Applications since the Baby P case

      2. Mediate
      The Government wants separating couples to mediate to sort out their differences so there should be an increase in this type of work.

      3. Work 16 hours a week at Tescos and
      Claim tax credits

      Lots of changes ahead then.

      Wednesday, March 27, 2013

      What Do I need to Think About before I Separate?

      Often people who want to separate are paralysed by anxiety.  They become overwhelmed by the magnitude of what they want to do. Controlling what you think about and organising your thoughts into a practical sequence can be a huge help.

      So what do you need to think about?

      1. Your children

      How will it impact on them?
      How will you tell them?
      How will you support them?
      Where will they live?
      How often will they see the other parent?
      What reassurance can you give them that their life is not ruined?
      Will they stay at the same school?
      Still see their friends?

      2.  Money

      Can you afford to separate?
      Who will move out?
      Will the house be sold?
      How will you divide the assets?
      Who will pay any debts?
      Will one of you support the other financially?

      So that is what you need to think about.

      How you separate and what you need to do is the subject of another post.

      For more help contact me at Bastows Divorce Solicitors

      Thursday, March 21, 2013

      What is a clean break?

      Lots of people hear this term when they are contemplating divorce and separation but they do not know what it means.

      What it means is that there is an end to any claim you or your ex spouse can have against each other.

      In order to finalise financial matters on divorce a Consent Order is needed. Without this claims can remain open indefinitely.  One man won the lottery 10 years after getting divorced and ended up having to pay some to his ex wife as they never filed a Consent Order with the Court. 

      A capital clean break means that any agreement reached on capital, such as transfer of the house, a lump sum payment, or each keeping your own savings, is final and you cannot go back to court to ask for more or less.Unless of course there has been fraud or mistake.

      There are 2 caveats:

      If the lump sum is paid by installments it is possible to ask for the payments to be varied - usually asking for them to be reduced or cancelled.

      If there is an intervening event of such magnitude that the court would have made a different order had it been made aware of it at the time. The fluctuations of the market - such as losing your company on the stock exchange - even if the value was millions of pounds do not qualify as an intervening event.  Your ex spouse committing suicide does. Such an event has to happen within 12 months of the Consent Order being sealed by the Court.

      It is also possible to seek further capital if you have a maintenance agreement - your ex spouse pays you income every month and a variation is sought.  At this stage the court can look to compensate the party who is losing the maintenance by capitalising it - that is - making a further capital award.

      In order to obtain a clean break on income you need to have no ongoing maintenance payments.

      The court has a duty to consider a clean break in every case.

      Each case however is different and the road to financial independence may take longer for some or may never happen and lifetime maintenance payments can be made.

      Often the court will not order a clean break if the lower earning party has young children to support.  Instead a nominal maintenance order can be made but that is the subject of another post....

      Monday, March 11, 2013

      Does Every Marriage Have Its Secrets?

      The fate of Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce is to be determined by a judge today who will hand down their sentences upon their conviction for perverting the course of justice. It's likely that they will both serve a term of imprisonment.  No doubt Miss Pryce will think it's worth it as her objective according to newspaper reports was to seek revenge on him.

      What does Isabelle Oakeshott, the journalist involved say of all this:

      "Writing ahead of the sentencing of the couple for perverting the course of justice today, the Sunday Times political editor denied having egged on the former government economist, whom she said was still in love with her husband even as she tried to bring about his downfall. “For all her anger and desire for revenge, I was sure she still loved her husband and wanted him back,” Ms Oakeshott said."

       As reported in The Independent

       That does not take a masters in human psychology to work out. The end of love results in indifference.  If your ex were to become engaged to Pippa Middleton or Brad Pitt no qualms of envy or jealously would result.

      If, by contrast you hate your ex, then clearly you are still emotionally embroiled, call it being in love, call it obsession, whatever, it is an unpleasant  emotional roller coaster for all involved. Anyone else focused on trying to destroy their ex should maybe take a step back and consider the consequences before proceeding. There are a lot of miserable people out there happy to encourage and support you in your thirst for revenge but are they true friends? What is the point of revenge? Didn't someone once say that the best revenge was to be happy? If you are concerned about what your ex is doing, earning,and need to shape up before you see them get help.  If you quiz your children for every detail on their return from staying with your ex then the first thing to do is accept that there is something wrong with your behaviour and acknowledge that it is not acceptable then seek professional help.

       As for Vicky Pryce. When will she get over him?  Probably never. Prison will just cement her hatred. He will probably come out and write a best selling book and be even more successful and will move on emotionally and financially.

      The lesson here for people considering ending their marriage is to work out if your soon to be ex has anything on you and if they have tell your solicitor straightaway.  It is better to mange how it comes out and deal with the consequences before they can potentially ruin your life!


      Tuesday, March 05, 2013

      Fixed Fee Collaborative Law in a Nutshell



      Four way meetings which includes you, your partner, your lawyer, and your partner’s lawyer.

      Meetings between the two lawyers to prepare for the four way meetings.

      You communicate directly with your partner with the support of your lawyer.

      All four participants pledge not to make an application to court. This is a powerful incentive to reach agreement and provides a more relaxed atmosphere without the threat of court proceedings hanging over the negotiations.


      You and your partner between you decide what is best for your family.

      Everything is discussed openly and your lawyers advise you in front of each other, there is no arm-twisting, no horse trading, and no secret negotiations.

      Other professionals are instructed as needed, such as counsellors, accountants, family therapists, actuaries and surveyors.


      You and your partner are in control of the timetable.

      You and your partner are also in control of the outcome.

      Speed, an agreement can be reached after only three meetings

      Your lawyers work together – not against each other.

      Sunday, March 03, 2013

      Fixed Fee Collaborative Law

      We are excited to announce our Fixed Fee Collaborative Law Service.

      Both lawyers have agreed to work for a fixed fee - they work together but from different firms so both you and your ex partner can benefit from this excellent deal.

      The Collaborative Law process works with a series of round table meetings - they will take place in either Central London or Southampton.

      The Collaborative Law process gives you control of the timing and outcome, reduces the acrimony and gives you the support of your solicitor in negotiations and legal advice.  It gives balance and all four participants are committed to achieving an outcome best suited to your family.

      With Collaborative Law acrimony is reduced and things can progress swiftly - it is a less stressful solution than Court Proceedings or normal solicitor led negotiations and is not as nerve wracking or isolating as Mediation can be, especially if one party is less able to stand up to the other.

      Most people who try Collaborative Law are relieved and pleased that they did.

      Tuesday, February 26, 2013

      Is your ex Co-Habiting?

      Quite often there is a debate between divorcing couples as to whether their ex spouse is cohabiting or not. In a divorce if you are found to be cohabiting, in what is termed established Co-Habitation - usually 6 months or longer- then your cohabitee’s income and assets can be taken into account in the division of assets and included in an assessment as to whether regular maintenance should be paid.

      The typical questions asked are:

      1.       Which days of the week do you stay at each others house?  Assuming your partner has a separate house, surprisingly often they do not and this question is simply not asked.
      2.     If the amount of time you see each other has adjusted in the last 6 months please explain how it has changed?

      3.       How are everyday costs as food, entertainment, holidays and travel shared by you and your partner?

      4.       Where does your partner work geographically?

      5.       Has your partner helped you with any of your regular expected outgoings and bills? If so, in what way?

      6.       Has your partner accompanied you to any GP, hospital or consultancy appointments?

      7.       Are you and your partner involved with each others families?  Have you been to any family events?

      8.       Have you or your partner had any relationship with anyone else in the last two years?

      Friday, February 22, 2013

      How will you access Publicly Funded Mediation after April 1st?

      The vast majority of Publicly Funded Mediation clients are referred to a Mediator via their Publicly Funded solicitor. Currently the solicitor is paid a fee by the Legal Services Commission for doing so. That fee will no longer exist from April 1, 2013.

      How then will they find a Mediator? Will solicitors take their instructions and refer them on for free? Will they find the Mediator via Google? Citizens Advice ?

      The Government has not signposted this properly.

      Perhaps the courts will issue a leaflet pointing people towards free Mediation. By the time people access the court system however they have already issued their Divorce Petition.

      Perhaps the new system will simply flow without the chaos envisaged by the majority of people working within it.

      Tuesday, February 05, 2013

      Ban Gay Marriage?

      I am listening to the debate in Parliament in the background and I am bored now.

      I haven't been to a wedding for ages.  Marriage is on the decline. More and more people are choosing to live together. David Cameron is trying to encourage Marriage in his Big Society so it is not surprising that he supports Gay Marriage.

      Seems that this is a generation thing.  Older people object more.

      Civil Partnership Agreement sounds boring. How do they refer to each other "My civil partner?"

      Is it logical to ban Gay Marriage? I think not. The argument about sexual intercourse I find especially bizarre. You don't have to be married to have sexual intercourse so holding this out as a pre requisite for marriage is to me a form of discrimination.

      This is the last vestige of religious oppression to my mind.  On Radio 4 this morning they interviewed a woman in her 70s who had been a slave in a Catholic Convent Laundry until she was 23.  The cruelty she described was heart breaking. The Catholic Church needs to focus on spreading kindness and sorting out their problems.  Religion has got a lot of bad press recently.  The Church of England needs to embrace all members of our society and reverse its decline in numbers.

      Gay marriage - A marker for equality... I agree.

      Saturday, January 19, 2013

      The little Book of Divorce Dilemmas

      The little Book of Divorce Dilemma

      Does it matter who divorces who?
      Ready to Leave?
      Divorce epidemic?
      Should I move out?
      What is Mediation?
      Is it Worth getting a Consent Order?
      The ethics of dating during divorce.

      This book deals with these and lots of other questions.

      It has a full contents list so you can quickly skip to the questions you want answered.

      Try it... You'll like it!!!

      Tuesday, January 01, 2013

      The Little Book of Divorce

       Happy New Year to everyone.  I hope this is a year of progress, good health and joy for everyone.  I speak as someone who is twice divorced and hence know personally the pain divorce causes.

      At last I have published The Little Book of Divorce on Kindle.

      The first draft was written in October 2010 and there have been a lot of changes in Family Law since then.  The most radical being the removal of Legal Aid for most Family Law cases scheduled for April 2013

      I hope that my book will help inform and assist those who seek personal change in 2013.  

      The Little Book of Divorce