For family lawyers the approach of Christmas heralds a number of challenges and concerns. There’s the increase in calls from distressed parents unable to reach agreement about whether their children will spend Christmas Eve with them or their ex-partner. Then there’s the rush to complete and submit paperwork to the courts before the Christmas shut-down. And, not forgetting the, dare I say dread of the deluge of phone calls that tend to face every family lawyer in the first few working days of the New Year.
As a family lawyer I am often contacted by distressed parents who are unable to reach an agreement with their former partner as to the arrangements for their children. Clients often feel they have lost the ability to be an equal parent because they are no longer living in the same home as their children. Some parents who have the children living with them, start to believe they can make all the decisions and control the situation regardless of what the other parent says or wants.
Whilst it’s not surprising that emotions can run high in divorce proceedings (we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t get upset about the breakdown of our marriage) there is a limit to what behaviour is acceptable. A recent case in the High Court (Veluppillai v Veluppillai) has highlighted the best way to NOT get the sympathy of a family law Judge. The husband’s behaviour in this case went way beyond what was acceptable, and resulted in the court making a costs order for £146,609 against him.
As a family law solicitor this is one of the most common questions people ask when I first speak to them. It is a question that can be difficult to answer in clear terms. It all depends whether matters are agreed, whether the other party opposes the divorce or what other matters need to be sorted out alongside the divorce that might hold it up.
As a divorce and family lawyer whenever a new client approaches me for advice on reaching a financial settlement with their ex I find myself reminding them what a valuable asset a pension is. A pension is often the second most valuable asset anyone will ever hold (next to their house) and the older you are, the longer you’ve been paying into a pension, the greater the value.