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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Breaking up is hard to do - whether you are Katie and Pete or Mr and Mrs Average

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As the headlines continue, following the announcement that Pete and Katie are getting a divorce, what the press are failing to note is how similar the issues that they face are to all those many thousands of ordinary people experiencing divorce or relationship breakdown.

Of paramount importance in all situations of divorce and relationship breakdown is the welfare of the children. Katie and Pete have two children together, Junior, three and Princess, one. Pete is also step-father to Kate’s son Harvey, aged 8. No doubt they will do all they can to minimise any disruption to their children’s lives. With regards to Junior and Princess, Pete will have parental responsibility which means he is recognised in the eyes of the law as having all the legal powers to make appropriate decisions in relation to the upbringing of the children. He will not automatically have gained parental responsibility for Harvey unless such an agreement was entered into.

It is alleged that the couple have been in meetings to discuss arrangements for their children and the latest news is that Katie wants a quickie divorce.

Deciding how best to look after the children will hopefully be their overriding priority. It is usual to try and keep the children settled in the family home wherever possible to minimise disruption to their daily lives. Let’s hope Pete and Katie can settle this issue amicably.

Whether parties do reach an amicable agreement or legal intervention is required it’s advisable to obtain legal advice from an experienced family solicitor to draw up a formal agreement. This should ensure that each party is clear about their responsibilities, misunderstandings do not arise and lead to conflict.

Much has been made in the media of a potential court battle over the couple’s joint fortune. It has been reported that Pete insisted on signing a prenuptial agreement prior to their wedding. This is a document in which a couple can set out their rights in relation to any property, debts, income and other assets purchased together or acquired individually, or that they have brought into a relationship. Once you are married, all assets become matrimonial assets and, unless protected, they are thrown into a single financial pot. Prenuptial agreements can be highly influential in any decision on assets, if not strictly binding, as judges are increasingly minded to take account of properly drawn up agreement.

The financial settlement can sometimes be the most contentious part of the divorce proceedings, particularly if, as in Pete and Katie’s case, large sums of money are involved. Take advice from an experienced family law solicitor who understands the complex legal issues involved. It seems Katie at least is already taking advice – allegedly having appointed the same solicitor used by Sir Paul McCartney in his divorce case.

Although Mr and Mrs Average may not be conducting their relationship breakdown in the public eye and are unlikely to have the same financial assets as Katie and Peter they still need advice and they need to carefully consider what is best for themselves and their children.

Let’s hope Katie and Peter get good advice, conduct themselves with dignity and that their children come out unscathed.

Andrew Woolley
Divorce Solicitor
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