Divorce is at its worst when it becomes acrimonious, undermines feelings of security and has the ability to dominate and adversely affect the ongoing lives of those involved. As such, any area of family law which increases the potential for the above needs examining.
Losing a close friend or family member is traumatic in any circumstance. However, it is when the bureaucracy of death takes over, becoming a complicated and time-consuming burden, that things can seem particularly difficult, preventing those concerned from being able to grieve fully and without interruption.
From obtaining medical certificates to organising funerals and registering deaths, there are so many practical matters to attend to that handling the death of a loved one can begin to feel more like an administrative hurdle to overcome than the end of a precious life.
Francis Bacon famously said that "money is a great servant but a bad master" and over the years this quote has been adapted to fit with the truth of technology; it truly is a great servant but as a master is likely to have significant failings.
This is nowhere truer than the legal services market, where technological innovation works to simplify processes and reduce costs. Technology is undoubtedly to the benefit of the user, but when it only serves to frustrate human interaction and to create a feeling of helplessness and automation, it is not the assistance one would hope for.
Probate is an area of legal services provision where technological solutions to practical problems are at last beginning to make their presence felt after a long period of uninterrupted fustiness. However, these are not always for the better.
There's no denying it, divorce and separation creates a raft of consequences. With the breaking up of familiar relationships children immediately have their lives rearranged, as one parent, typically the father, leaves the family home.
When it comes to who cares for a child, the mother automatically has parental responsibility from birth. Fathers will have parental responsibility if they are either married to the child's mother or are named on the birth certificate. Having parental responsibility typically affords you the right to maintain a relationship with children (as long as there are no injunctions or prohibitive orders in place to prevent contact) and separating parents are encouraged to reach an amicable agreement for child arrangements. These could include living arrangements, visiting schedules and other factors such as religious upbringing, schooling and contact at sensitive times such as birthdays and major holidays such as Christmas, Easter and the school holidays. Of course, it's not always as easy as that, and the difficulties faced by many parents are well documented.
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.