Rita’s round-up

LGFL Director Rita Gupta gives her views on some interesting divorce and family law stories.


Is 19 years too late to claim financial remedies?

Rita's review of the latest divorces casesSometimes, divorce cases become complicated through the passing of time and changes in circumstances. One case I’ve been following with interest involves a wife who sought financial remedy from her ex-husband 19 years after they divorced. In the intervening years, her ex had become a wealthy businessman, and is now worth a cool £57 million. Considering his net worth, his wife’s claim wasn’t seen by the judge to be excessive, amounting to some £625,000 which included the majority of her costs.
What actually caused the most upset was the ex-husband’s insistence on mutual confidentiality, which led to major disagreements and the issuing of what’s known as a Deans summons.


The case ended up in the Supreme Court, where Mr Justice Cobb had to untangle a convoluted and messy scenario. It’s to the judge’s credit that he found not only a solution but also a positive benefit for allowing the details to be made public:


14. iv. There is a public interest in disseminating the fact that these parties have, in the end, been able to reach a negotiated settlement without a trial. Given the ambitious objectives of each party along the way (their open positions, widely publicised, pitched them £2m apart), and the heavily contested litigation to the Supreme Court and back to the High Court, the public should know that compromise is achievable – and I may add highly desirable – even at a late stage of such a hard-fought case.


New TV series on mediation

The judgement comes at a very opportune moment, as a new tv series, “Mr v Mrs: Call The Mediator” features the work of the National Family Mediation (NFM) services. This fly-on-the-wall documentary series focuses on couples trying to reach agreement on issues we see here at LGFL time and time again. These include child care and access arrangements, division of assets, and issues raised by co-habiting couples owning property together. It’s heartening to see that the programme quotes the success rate for mediation in these kinds of cases at 89%.


At LGFL, we offer our own mediation service in the discreet and relaxed environment of our countryside offices (rather than the formal, town-centre interview rooms of a county-based mediation service) plus our City expertise. Our mediation services can be a quick, cost-effective and (above all) constructive method of resolving disputes without the need for court proceedings.
Just as in the tv series, your mediator is an independent person there to assist the discussions between you both, and to help you work towards a solution. What sets mediation at LGFL apart is that you will have an experienced Family Law practitioner helping you, with in-depth knowledge of family law to inform and aid your negotiations. It’s available to all and we can arrange meetings at times to suit you both. Call us in complete confidence for details.



MPs object to rise in court fees

A select committee of MP’s have objected to the recent rises in court fees, which has seen the courts costs for divorce in England and Wales rise from £410 to £550.
The justice select committee were concerned that these ‘enhanced fees’ limit access to justice. As their report says:

“Where there is conflict between the objectives of achieving cost recovery and preserving access to justice, the latter objective must prevail… It cannot be right that a person bringing a divorce petition, in most cases a woman, is subject to what has been characterised in evidence to us as effectively a divorce tax. We recommend that the increase in the divorce petition fee to £550 be rescinded.”

However, this rise seems almost reasonable compared with the proposed cost for asylum and immigration tribunal oral hearings, which are set to rise a massive 600% from £140 to £800. Whatever the final decision on the charges, it’s clear that court fees are generally on the rise. Therefore it’s even more important to seek proper legal advice before rushing into any court action. This makes our free 30-minute consultation for clients based in a 50 mile radius of our LGFL family lawyers offices near Reading a sound financial decision.