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24 May 2019

Last month Mr Justice Moor, sitting in the English family court, reached an important decision in the divorce case of Pierburg v Pierburg – between Gisela Pierburg, "the Wife" and Jurgen Pierburg, "the Husband".

The so-called "Eurostar" divorce case concerned a dispute about whether the divorce should be resolved in England or Germany and indeed whether England had jurisdiction to hear the divorce petition.

The Wife, believing that she had met the necessary habitual residency test, submitted an English divorce petition on 12 January 2018. Exactly one month later, the Husband issued his German divorce petition in the Berlin-Schoneberg District Court. He claimed that as both he and his wife were German citizens, Germany was the correct jurisdiction.

26 April 2019

Blame is seldom a useful emotional response. Yes, it can be used to apportion responsibility and to mete out accountability for certain criminal actions, but within the context of relationships and, specifically, marriage and divorce, it serves little to no practical purpose, can be counterproductive and furthermore, when children are involved, is only likely to increase the impact of emotional trauma.

The futility of the blame game is just one reason why it is such a relief to learn that the government will be changing divorce laws in England and Wales to ensure that no divorcing spouse will ever again have to prove their partner is at fault because of adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour.

It will also end the absurd two-year stasis (stipulated time of separation as one of the Five Facts) faced by many couples whose marriages have proved unworkable but who don't wish to apportion blame; five years in the case of couples where one spouse opposes the divorce.

21 February 2019

A number of recent cases involving divorce solicitors, particularly in London, have attracted attention over the issue of contentious litigation and accompanying disproportionate costs. For example, during a recent divorce case, Daga v Bangur [2018] EWFC 91, Justice Holman spoke of the ill effects of "destructive litigation" and its power to diminish the assets of divorcing parties.

The case focused on a husband's claim for a lump sum financial settlement worth between £1 million and £1.5 million.

The judge described it as "tragic" that the divorcing parties had spent more than £1 million on legal costs: around £380,000 on litigation related to child arrangements and a further £650,000 spent on litigation relating to the divorce financial settlement.

25 January 2019

In an ideal world, sincerity and good faith would be at the heart of every divorce case. However, when relationships break down it often seems to bring out the worst in divorcing parties, which of course means that, in many cases, it is hard to achieve anything other than agitation, contention and acrimony.

And again in an ideal world, divorce lawyers would help divorcing parties understand that although their situation may look less than ideal, the best way to achieve divorce settlement goals is to act reasonably and litigate in good faith.

This message was one of the take homes from comments recently made by leading family law judge Mr Justice Francis when he said that "people who adopt unreasonable positions in litigation cannot simply do so confident that there will be an indemnity for the costs of the litigation behaviour, however unreasonable it may have been".

12 November 2018

Christmas is just a few weeks away, and for many divorced or separated families this can mean extra stress and emotional anxiety.

If this is your first Christmas after separation

Be prepared that you may well find the festive season difficult. Take some time to think about how you may feel and whether there are likely to be any specific triggers that may be upsetting for you. Think about ways of coping not just with the festive season in general but with any potential flashpoints. Let go of any traditions that no longer work for you or that you inherited from your ex’s family. Instead, try creating some new traditions to replace any old ones you'd rather forget – you can get your children involved in creating new arrangements to help them feel fully involved in the festive season.

Get organised early on

Don’t leave making the arrangements for the children until the last minute. Sorting out the arrangements early on will ensure that things go smoothly and is especially important when you are also trying to factor in extended family. The earlier everyone knows what is happening and when, the better. Sometimes trying to make arrangements that suit everyone can be a logistical nightmare so, to save yourself a lot of stress, it may be better to let family know when the children will be with you and invite everyone round on just one day – this leaves you and your children free to enjoy the rest of your time together.  

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