Mrs Owens (aged 66) is not allowed to divorce her husband, Hugh (aged 78), despite her feelings that the marriage of 39 years is over. Judge Tolson has said that her allegations were “of the kind to be expected in marriage” and refused to grant the divorce petition. Mrs Owens said that her husband was insensitive, that he did not trust her and that she felt unloved.
Surely the test is a subjective one? Just because Judge Tolson appears to be willing to accept certain behaviours in a marriage, does that mean that we all have to do so?
Some of us may find our partners ignoring us to be acceptable, for us to be banished from the bedroom absolutely fine and a refusal to share holidays together a blessing.
Good Divorce Week
Monday 28 November marks the start of ‘Good Divorce Week’ which will run until 2 December. The aim of Good Divorce Week is to highlight the alternative to Court and to show the fact that there are better ways to divorce.
The title of Good Divorce Week may seem an uncomfortable description for a divorce, but I am a passionate believer that there can be such a thing as a good divorce. This does not in any way minimise the impact a divorce can have on a person individually and their family or the devastation that follows, but does show that how you chose to progress your divorce is something you do have control of. There are many better ways than going to Court to resolve family disputes such as mediation, collaborative law, arbitration and using solicitors who are Members of Resolution.
Resolution Members follow a Code of Practice that promotes a constructive approach to family issues and considers the needs of the whole family, with a particular emphasis on the best interests of the children. I am a proud Member of Resolution, a community of family justice professionals who work with families and individuals to resolve issues sensibly. This means that I always seek to reduce or manage any conflict and confrontation, support and encourage families to put the best interests of any children first and act with honesty, integrity and objectivity.
My route to becoming a lawyer
I had the opportunity recently to spend some time at a local school answering questions about my career path. The idea was created by the Worktree Charity to encourage youngsters to have a think about their futures. The age group that I sat with was Year 11 so 15 and 16 year old students. Some of them had an idea of what they want to do when they leave school, others have no idea at all.
The students were divided into groups of three, and there were eight adults from varying professions from a psychometric tester to a health care worker, so plenty of variety. The idea was that the students ask questions and become used to speaking to people they do not know anything about. We were given seven minutes with each group – not very long for inquisitive teenagers! They had to keep their questions fairly concise which is all good practice for getting the best value out of someone’s time.
The main question that the students asked me was if I had always been interested in law. I replied honestly and told them that, despite my school’s careers advisor suggesting that I should be a quantity surveyor, I was adamant that I was going into the banking industry straight from school which I was lucky enough to do. Mind you, jobs were more plentiful back then!
Our Family Lawyer has won the 2016 Women Leaders Awards!
The Directors of Kingsley David are delighted to announce that our Family Lawyer and Mediator Clare Kitteridge won in the category of Professional Services having been shortlisted against a strong field of contenders at the 2016 Women Leaders Awards. We were delighted to attend the gala dinner and award ceremony on 21 October and celebrated Clare’s achievement in style.
Women Leaders MK is a prestigious awards event that recognises the talents and achievements of women living or working in the Milton Keynes postcode area and Clare was presented with her trophy at the gala dinner and award ceremony which took place at the Hilton DoubleTree, MK Stadium on Friday 21 October. The panel of Judges remarked that “[They] saw in Clare her great energy driving her to achieve, not only for herself but for her clients, ensuring through her positive approach that they receive the professional help they need.”
The Directors of Kingsley David are delighted to announce that our Family Lawyer and Mediator Clare Kitteridge is a 2016 Women Leaders Finalist in the category of Professional Services. We are very much looking forward to the gala dinner and award ceremony on 21 October 2016 and celebrating Clare’s achievement.
Women Leaders MK is a prestigious awards event that recognises the talents and achievements of women living or working in the Milton Keynes postcode area and our winners for 2016, will be presented with their trophies at the gala dinner and award ceremony taking place at the Hilton DoubleTree, MK Stadium on October 21st.
For those of you new to Women Leaders, the aim of this event is to enable women living or working within the Milton Keynes postcode area to experience the same empowerment and recognition achieved by the national CBI First Women Award winners.
The Women Leaders MK Awards is led by Jan Flawn CBE who was a previous winner of the CBI First Woman of Business Services Award.
The Third Wife
My latest ‘holiday’ read was the Sunday Times bestseller by Lisa Jewell ‘the third wife.’ This was supposed to be a book to enjoy and switch off from my work as a family lawyer and mediator assisting couples who are separating or divorcing. It tells the story of Adrian Wolfe, a successful, well liked man who had just got married for the third time. He thinks everyone is happy, including his children from his first two marriages and his new wife because he is. However, his new wife tragically dies after a night out and as the book unfolds Adrian realises that although he thought he had the perfect life, the consequences of moving from family to family to strive for something new and exciting, creating more children in each relationship along the way has consequences.
This book is described by the Daily Mail as ‘emotionally intelligent, brilliantly plotted and beautifully written examination of a very modern family that will keep you gripped to the end.’ It is that and more. It makes you think about how complex the dynamics of separated families can be, even those that appear on the outside to be amicable with parents working hard to protect their children from the inevitable effects of separation.
Call the Mediator
I, like many others, watched the first episode of the BBC2 programme Mr v Mrs Call the Mediator. Frustrated mediators for years now have been asking for there to be greater awareness of mediation as an option for separating couples who wish to resolve their children and/or financial issues. I think that this programme has created that awareness and it’s certainly been a talking point since the first programme aired on Tuesday 21st June. That’s positive and a better message than we often hear in soaps and in the media about ‘greedy lawyers’ and ‘taking people to Court.’ Since the programme, I’ve had many solicitors, mediators, friends, family and clients who have often wanted to know what goes on in mediation asking me questions following the programme. Is mediation really like that? Which mediator did you like? Did you agree with the way the mediator managed the process? Is that what you do?
First and foremost, I have huge respect for the couples and the mediators brave enough to be recorded for this programme. Any couple who decides to sit in a room together to address their conflict deserves respect. The human element, the pain that people go through, the fears they experience about their financial future are all common to many mediations I conduct on a daily basis. Mediators do amazing, deeply satisfying work on a daily basis. However, there are also many fundamentals which, as a mediator who is legally trained I was left wanting to redress. Of course any mainstream television programme will focus on the ‘people’ and the ‘stories’ rather than the process but I would not want anyone thinking of mediating to be under any illusions about what it involves. It’s emotionally tiring. It can be stressful but it’s also hugely beneficial if you are committed to making the process work. It’s a structured, safe process but it’s also hugely flexible and often creates good, lasting, positive outcomes.
Child consultation in Mediation
We are delighted to announce that our family mediator has recently qualified as a fully trained child consultant, in addition to being a mediator fully recognised in all issues family mediation accredited by the Law Society and Resolution.
Clare, one of our directors in the firm, has recently undergone and successfully completed the training to become a child consultant. Clare explains in the following blog what this means for our mediation practice within the firm. Clare can see children of parents who are already in the mediation process with us and can also act as an external consultant for those who are mediating with another family mediator.
“I am delighted that I have recently completed by direct child consultation in mediation and wonder now why I had not done this training sooner. I have been working in the family law profession for 17 years and I have been qualified for 10 years. My motivation to train as both a collaborative family lawyer and a mediator very soon after my qualification arose when I became disillusioned with the legal process and felt that there must be a better way for my clients to separate or divorce. I have gone on to assist many clients within mediation and I have been accredited as a specialist mediator by the Law Society and Resolution since 2012.
Our next Family Law Evening Surgery will be taking place on Thursday 30 June 2016 between 5.00 p.m. and 8.00 p.m.
Clare Kitteridge our Collaborative Family Lawyer and Mediator is offering an evening service for those couples who are separating or divorcing and who need advice in relation to their children and financial issues.
Congratulations to Samantha De-Lara on her recent qualification for a Licensed Conveyancer
The directors and all of the team at Kingsley David Solicitors are delighted to announce that Samantha De-Lara has recently qualified as a Licensed Conveyancer. Samantha has worked incredibly hard to obtain her qualification receiving her licence on 6 May 2016. Samantha has obtained her qualification through many years of hard work and study whilst working full time throughout. We as a firm fully support the vocational routes into law and the experience that vocationally trained lawyers gain which is hugely beneficial to their clients.
Here is Samantha’s story in relation to the struggles she faced and her own personal satisfaction at having successfully obtained her qualification and her advice to others thinking of studying to become a licensed conveyancer.
So it all started in September 2006, having worked in conveyancing for a couple of years and as someone who didn't go to University, I decided I wanted to begin the Licensed Conveyancers Course (age 20) to get a qualification whilst working full time.
The pitfalls of DIY divorces
As a family lawyer who offers fixed fee consultations at a reduced hourly rate, I hope that those who need legal advice will be able to afford at least a detailed consultation with me to ensure that before you embark on any divorce process you receive advice as the best way forward. However, increasingly I am being approached by husbands and wives who have managed their own divorce using either an online company or information they have obtained on the internet and have progressed a divorce themselves. There is a wealth of very useful information on the internet which can help guide you through a divorce process.
The divorce process itself is not particularly complicated and you can be guided perfectly well using information available online or through an online divorce company. The legal process of a divorce is not necessarily the difficulty. It is the huge emotional trauma faced when moving forward with a divorce that can sometimes make the process more troublesome.
Most people from my experience assume that when they receive their Decree Absolute which is granted at the end of a divorce process that this is the end. They assume that because they are divorced they do not need to go on to think about any other matters. Many have been able to discuss co-operatively the arrangements for their children and their financial matters and one client recently produced to me a detailed typed note which set out an agreement he had reached with his wife ten years ago when they separated and went through a divorce process co-operatively using an online company. That client, and I suspect indeed many others, wrongly assumed that because the divorce had been finalised that the financial agreement he had entered into with his wife as part of the divorce was binding upon them.
Family law meets Mindfulness
As a specialist family lawyer and mediator I know that when you are dealing with family separation and change, it is about much more than just the law. It is an emotionally difficult process first and foremost, and then a legal process and journey, all of which require careful individual consideration. I am here to guide you through the legal process, delivering the right advice with care, sensitivity and compassion. However, that’s only one part of the process. Often, clients tell me that they feel out of control, overwhelmed, consumed with anger and sadness and unable to cope. These feelings do not always end when a divorce is concluded legally. They can also sometimes prevent the divorce process from being able to progress.
The emotional divorce is a process which takes time. Divorce represents the death of a marriage and all the hopes and dreams that went into it. Like death, this requires a grieving process for healing. Dr Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief are known to be denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It is likely that you will experience many, if not all, of these stages when you are going through a separation or divorce and this is known as the grieving process.
If you feel that you are stuck, we work in consultation with family consultants, counsellors and coaches who can help you cope with what you are going through. Often the emotional stages are more difficult to work through than the legal aspects of ending your marriage.
I have decided this year not to follow the media hype about the supposed rush to pick up the phone and ring a family lawyer for a divorce or separation on the first Monday of January each year. I confess in the past I have mindlessly retweeted the usual press speak every year around this time talking about the surge to divorce. This year, I have really thought about the impact of this upon those going through a difficult time in their relationships and it makes me cringe.
The first week of January has passed and I have not experienced a massive surge of new instructions nor, when I come to think about it, have I in the last 15 years of practising as a family lawyer. It's undoubtedly busy because people are often more resolute about getting things done after the festive break, but the phone wasn't constantly ringing with new clients seeking a divorce just because it is the start of a new year. I don't think I am alone since I have a healthy caseload of clients in my legal and mediation caseload. We do see peaks and troughs in our work but it's not always in January. More often it is in the summer when parents are trying to juggle work with child care commitments and September, sadly after the school summer holidays.
We are supporting the Text Santa Christmas Jumper Day on Friday 18 December 2015. You will find our staff at Kingsley David each wearing their festive Christmas jumpers to do our bit to raise money and awareness for families in difficulty at Christmas.
We know that Christmas can be a very tough time. The Text Santa will help raise money for three amazing charities who will help families in need at Christmas – Macmillan Cancer Support, Make-A-Wish to grant magical wishes to enrich the lives of children and young people fighting life threatening conditions and Save the Children who work in more than 120 countries helping to save children’s lives.
Marc Lansdell our Head of Overseas Property will shortly be returning from the Luxury Property Show which took place in Shanghai between 11 and 13 December 2015.
This is the eighth Shanghai International Luxury Property Show. It is known as the best platform for overseas exhibitors to explore the Chinese market and meet face to face with Chinese high net worth buyers. Each year the Luxury Property Show attracts over 100,000 visitors and over 500 exhibitors who come from all corners of the world to show case their luxury properties and real estate services.
The song is written by her husband Matt, who also plays guitar on the track. They recorded the song, Never Too Old For Christmas at their home and hope that it will raise greater awareness around brain tumours and raise some money for The Brain Tumour Charity through iTunes downloads.
Clare was diagnosed with a pituitary adenoma in 2007 – a non-malignant tumour similar to the one which TV presenter Sue Perkins recently revealed she too has lived with for the last eight years.
Are you aware that from 1 January 2016 a mediator must be accredited to verify an attendance at a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, either by completing of the FM1 form or the Form A?
The Family Mediation council (FMC) is the umbrella body for family mediators in England and Wales. It is made up of six organisations with family mediation members – the ADR Group, the College of Mediators, The Family Mediators’ Association, National Family Mediation, the Law Society and Resolution. These are referred to as the member organisations (MOs) of the FMC. The FMC are working towards a position where all practising mediators in the six FMC member organisations are also directly registered with the FMC and either hold, or are working towards becoming an Accredited Family Mediator. This ensures that there is a standard framework for the professionally qualified status for family mediation.
There are many mediators who have gone through the rigorous training course to become a family mediator. However, not all mediators go on to become accredited. This changes means that mediators must work towards becoming accredited in order that they can continue to be registered on the ‘Find a Mediator’ search facility which the public use to find mediators.
An accredited mediator is someone who has had a significant number of practical hours experience as a mediator and has undergone a rigorous application to become accredited, which involves producing portfolios of four fully completed mediation cases for assessment.
Our mediator, Clare Kitteridge, has been recognised by Resolution and the Law Society as an Accredited Mediator since 2012.
Family Dispute Resolution Week - 2015
Every day this week, I have been posting information and articles on ways in which parents can put their children first during a divorce or separation. I have been talking about why this is so important but also how difficult it can be for parents to put into practice when emotions are running high and the help that is available. Why? Each year Resolution, an organisation of 6,500 family lawyers and other professionals in England and Wales, who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters, runs a campaign during the last week of November titled Family Dispute Resolution Week. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness that there are better ways to resolve family disputes.
This year, the campaign has focused on putting children first and all week family law professionals have been tweeting using the hashtag #childrenfirst. This hashtag, by Wednesday morning had been used nearly 2,500 times by around 900 users, including the Ministry of Justice and the Family Justice Minister, reaching a potential audience of over 6.5 million people. I am sure by now the campaign has reached well in excess of this amount, which is a fantastic achievement given the importance of the theme for this years’ campaign – children.
Doctor Foster – What about Tom?
I, like approximately 7.5 million others, was an avid viewer of the BBC drama Doctor Foster. This followed the story of Dr Foster whose seemingly perfect life gets changed almost in an instance when she discovered her husband had been having an affair with a woman considerably her junior.
We followed Dr Foster as she went through various emotions including feeling suicidal, grief, depression, shock, anger, denial, upset through to survival and ultimately acceptance. It felt real to many watching, including many of my own clients who unfortunately have either gone through the same, or were going through the same deeply traumatic experience. It touched those who were still grieving the loss of their relationship and almost gave a confidence boost to those who wanted to see Dr Foster’s husband suffer, perhaps because their own husband or wife, they felt, had not been accountable for their unfaithfulness and that was particularly evident on twitter throughout the series. Many shared their experiences and sought consolation online from others who had been in a similar situation.
Family law but not as you may know it !
I received a telephone call this week from a gentleman who was calling on behalf of his daughter. He was concerned about protecting his daughter and grandchildren who were going through a difficult separation. He told me that his daughter was worried about contacting a solicitor because she “did not want to rock the boat”.
This was not an unusual conversation. Many people worry about those closest to them going through a separation and how it might impact upon their future and want to be able to help them. I speak to many people including my own friends who share the same concerns and preconceived opinion that instructing a solicitor will antagonise an already difficult process. A solicitor who is not a Resolution Member or perhaps a solicitor who does not specialise in family law may fit that description. However specialist family solicitors who are Resolution Members and understand the best way to approach an emotionally difficult process know that when people are dealing with family separation and change it is about much more than just the law.
Protection is primary, succession is secondary and tax is tertiary
You can't give what you haven't got or as we pretentious lawyers would say: “nemo dat quod non habet.” So there is strong argument for ensuring that what we have is preserved for our heirs. We can then give it to them. Then we need to be mindful of tax and to organise our affairs to ensure that we pay no more tax than we should.
A lot is said about tax. It is an essential part of the foundation of a civilised society. As essential to our lives as is the blood coursing through our bodies. One way or another it has to be paid and it gives us our many privileges.
How I can help – Emotionally Intelligent Approach
I am committed to helping you achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family. When you are dealing with the breakdown of your marriage or relationship, you often feel out of control and unable to cope. My aim is to provide advice, support and to set out choices to help you regain some control. I understand the complex emotions that arise during separation, having undergone separate training in emotional intelligence and the importance of protecting children during this time. With appropriate advice I want clients to feel empowered to make reflective decisions enabling the family to move forward and to be able to communicate with each other, despite differences, long after the legal process has concluded.
I am often amazed how reluctant families are to consult solicitors for advice on a separation out of fear for the cost or from a misconception of what we can do to help as family lawyers and mediators. Often I hear people say that they fear lawyers will create unnecessary acrimony and hostility and increase costs. I am committed to helping couples create positive futures for themselves and their children following the end of a relationship.
What to do if you have life insurance? Consider putting it in trust. Otherwise it goes to your estate and it may result in a tax bill or bigger tax bill. It is added to the rest of your estate, increasing its size and thus its potential to suffer Inheritance Tax at 40%.
The trust is a simple document often given to you by the insurance company. Nothing complicated.
Lasting Powers of Attorney
Who looks after you if you become incapable of doing so yourself? Whether your property and finances or your general health and welfare? The Court will choose if you don't do Lasting Powers of Attorney.
Thursday 11 June 2015
Our next Family Law Evening Surgery will be taking place on Thursday 11 June 2015 between 5.00 p.m. and 8.00 p.m.
Expert Advice and Pensions
As part of the full and proper consideration of your financial position following a divorce or separation, you will be asked to provide full and frank disclosure of your financial position in order that the legal options can be explored. It is also of value and hugely important to consider your financial future at the time of your divorce or separation and how this may be impacted. You will be asked to consider if you want to deal with any properties that you hold, capital investments, incomes and your pensions.
Pensions, the Family Court and Bankruptcy
We have all heard about the changes coming into force in April 2015 in relation to pensions, allowing greater freedom of choice as to how people are able to access, use and pass on their pension pots from now on. Individuals of minimum pensionable age (currently 55) will be able to access 100% of their pension fund as cash. Previously only 25% could be accessed. 25% can be taken as tax free cash. The residue can be taken as cash but this is taxed as income.
Does this mean that divorcing couples where one or both of those are 55 will be able to ask the Court to access the cash from their pension fund as part of a financial settlement? Where might this lead one or both parties on retirement if they run out of cash? Only time will tell as to how lawyers and Judges will deal with pensions on divorce following the changes in April 2015.
Kids in the Middle – Making the welfare of children in separating families paramount
“All children have the right to information from a variety of sources, especially to information aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health.” United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 17.
There is no doubt that a major cause of unhappiness in young people occurs when parents separate. Having practised as a family lawyer for over 15 years, I am fully aware of the effect of divorce upon parents and also their children as a family. Family law can have an ever lasting impact on the lives. As a family lawyer I see all too often the damage that can occur to children when their parents experience difficulties in their marriage or relationship. I visit schools where teachers report that they have witnesses a growing presence of stress, anxiety, depression and other conditions amongst their pupils which affect their day-to-day lives often resulting from problems at home. I don’t doubt that most parents have the absolute best interests of their children at heart. However, sometimes in the chaos and upset of divorce, children can be overlooked.
Dispute Resolution Options
I am a collaborative family lawyer and mediator. If I introduce myself as a divorce lawyer perhaps you would already have a view of how a family lawyer should speak and behave and you might even be forgiven for letting out a groan. I am on a mission to change the way in which you look at family lawyers and what we do.
You may have an idea of a family lawyer as someone wanting to make money out of people’s sadness. You may not want to go and see a solicitor out of fear that we will encourage you to go to Court. You may worry that your divorce will take years to complete and cost you thousands of pounds.
Tuesday 25 November 2014 (5-8pm)
Resolution’s third Family Dispute Resolution Week will take place on 24-28 November this year. This awareness raising week aims to highlight the alternatives to Court for separating couples and their families.
I was intrigued recently to learn about divorcehotel.com. As the name suggests, it offers a service where couples can book in at various divorce.com hotels in the Netherlands and abroad whereby your divorce is arranged for by a team of professionals including accountants, tax advisors and even estate agents according to their website in a single long weekend.
The concept is that if you and your partner wish to arrange for your divorce in a fast manner it can be finalised for you during your stay. I do not know enough about this hotel to review the up take of this service and also how many people chose to reconcile after a weekend away facing the reality of their separation and its impact but it does somewhat intrigue me.
I am pleased that changes are afoot in the world of family law whereby from 22 April 2014, the Court have introduced a compulsory Mediation Information Meeting. Prior to making an application for a Court Order in family proceedings, the person who proposes to make the application must first attend a meeting to receive information about mediation and other means of resolving a dispute without going to Court.
There have recently been important changes made to the law as it relates to children matters and also the way in which family disputes are resolved. The Children and Families Bill received royal assent on Thursday 13 March 2014 and is now law. This means that Residence and Contact Orders (formerly called Custody Orders) will be replaced with Child Arrangements Orders, which set out the arrangements for the upbringing of a child when Court determination of disputes related to the care of children is required. The idea is to move away from terms such as “residence” and “contact” which have themselves become a source of contention between parents and to focus on the practical issues in the day to day care of a child when parents separate.