Divorce and the family: after the court case is finished

Divorce and its impact on the family is a key area for us here at LGFL. Partner Rita Gupta gives her view on a new resource to help divorced parents, and the sad-but-true case where mother really did know best…


New scheduling service for divorced parents

family calendarOne of the biggest challenges for divorced parents can often be the simplest; knowing what is happening in their children’s lives when they are not the resident parent. A new online planning service allows parents to access an online calendar and file storage to help organise and keep track of activities, family events, medical appointments, holiday plans and even homework schedules. You can invite other stakeholders, such as grandparents, to join the calendar too.

Yes, it’s the modern equivalent of the whiteboard or calendar on the fridge, and it sounds fabulous – as long as everyone plays nicely. We can see the greatest issue arising over booking holidays, where one parent might consider putting something on an empty date on the online plan as implying tacit approval from the other parent. This is one of the biggest bones of contention between divorced parents, and while an online solution might be fine for some, it won’t work for others. 

Many single parents with non-cooperative ex-spouses think they need to apply for a court order for all holiday arrangements. However, there is a cheaper and often just as effective way, At LGFL, we have considerable success with simply sending a letter from us to the other parent, written in clear language and delivered in good time. With a long summer holiday ahead, now is a good time to get parenting and holiday allocations sorted – with a little help from LGFL and the Royal Mail. 


Mother knows best…

It’s a common scenario on daytime property tv shows; a couple buy a dilapidated flat and do it up to sell on at a profit. When Gareth Powell and Chloe Thomas took the property plunge in 2012, their flat was bought entirely with her money. Powell agreed to do the renovation work, and took a loan from his parents to cover the cost of materials. When the couple split in 2014, Mr Powell thought he had an agreement stating he would be entitled to a third of the profit on the sale of the flat if their relationship ended.

Unusually, the agreement had been suggested by Ms Thomas’ mother, and had been drawn up and signed by Mr Powell. However, Ms Thomas said she never agreed, denied having ever signed it, and had torn up the copy signed by Mr Thomas. When questioned she stated that “Why would I sign something I was completely against? The only person that was for this was my mother.” In turn her mother told the court that she had arranged for the contract to be drawn up as an option “If things went bad” for her daughter. 


I told you so…

Well, they did – as mother had predicted. And at the risk of joining her in a sotto voce mutter of “I told you so”, this highlights the very real need for couples to define what they bring to a relationship financially before living together. A cohabitation agreement can help lay out what would happen if you do split up, just as a pre-nup can for a marriage. Without an agreement, if ‘things go bad’, then it’s one person’s word against another, plus the stress and hassle of court, and probably a large legal bill to boot.
Some couples might consider a cohabitation agreement rather formal and unromantic, but we consider it a very pragmatic move. Unmarried couples do not have the same legal protection as married couples or civil partners. An agreement gives you something to prove the financial standing of each partner at the outset, and that can be worth its weight in gold (or tiles).

Just make sure you both sign it, and keep a copy somewhere where neither of you can tear it up…