Director Rita Gupta discusses why September is a key month when couples make the decision to get divorced.

Summer holidays are supposed to be relaxing, We’re all sold the dream of happy couples and families splashing in pools, lounging on beaches, enjoying time together. This is often compounded by countless social media and Facebook posts of the perfect family holiday. Sadly, the reality is often quite different, which may explain why September has overtaken January as the peak month for starting divorce proceedings.

A study by the University of Washington suggested this was often because:

“People tend to face the holidays with rising expectations, despite what disappointments they might have had in years past. They represent periods in the year when there's the anticipation or the opportunity for a new beginning, a new start, something different, a transition into a new period of life. It's like an optimism cycle, in a sense.”

Together 24/7

The other factor is that, unlike everyday life, couples are spending every hour of every day together whilst on holiday. In daily, life most couples work separately, so together time is limited to evenings and weekends. Even then, couples may have different hobbies or interests that keep them apart, or go separate ways to take kids to their different activities. Busy schedules can mask problems in marriage.

A week spent in a hotel room or villa, however luxurious, throws couples together for longer periods of time. This alone can bring underlying tensions bubbling to the surface. Add in a larger than usual consumption of alcohol, and what has remained unsaid until now may blow up into a major argument.

So, when on-the-brink couples return home, the cracks in their relationship may have widened to such a degree that divorce is the best option to choose.


Back to school

Another driver for filing for divorce is when children return to school after the summer holidays. Just as their children are starting out on a new school year, couples may feel it’s time to move on in their lives too.

Starting a divorce at the start of the school year actually offers children extra security and certainty. They will have the support of daily school life, their friends an their school in what will inevitably be an upsetting and emotional time in their lives as their parents separate.


Sorted by Christmas

Many couples want to avoid the Christmas holidays becoming a re-run of the arguments they had on their summer holiday, or to live through another unhappy festive period with matters in limbo. So, they want to move forward with divorce proceedings in September in order to get the divorce ‘done’ by Christmas. Knowing that the divorce is in progress allows couples to plan child arrangement well in advance for the Christmas period, including who sends what days with whom, and where.

As experienced divorce lawyers, we can certainly make that happen, with the caveat that you should never compromise your financial settlement or child arrangements for the sake of speed or a date on a calendar. Some divorce cases take more time to resolve than others, as we work to ensure that the interests of children are protected and that full disclosure ensures the best financial settlements for you and your family.


New year, new you

An autumn divorce allows the whole family to start afresh in the New Year in their new, separate lives. The optimism of a new year helps couples mentally leave the upset behind in the past year, and move forward with more confidence. With the social whirl and possible extended family pressure of Christmas gone, all parties involved have a chance to reassess, regroup and plan ahead.


Court schedules

The courts and many law firms close over the Christmas and New Year period so waiting and issuing on January 2nd often isn’t the most efficient timing.


How LGFL can help

LGFL do not offer ‘quickie’ divorce for one simple reason - you never achieve the best settlement possible. A rushed divorce inevitably has to overlook certain elements in favour of a self-imposed or artificial deadline.

Instead, we offer a pragmatic and empathetic approach to divorce that combines time- efficient progress with in-depth scrutiny and a determination for accurate and full financial disclosure. We can also provide a collaborative law approach that can reduce the need for court hearings, and provide a less stressful experience for all involved. (For more details see our collaborative law page.)


Take the first step today

If you want to file for divorce and have much of your case resolved before Christmas, you need to act now, and come and see us for an initial consultation. We’ll talk through your situation, your family circumstances, and suggest ways to ensure your divorce proceeds as smoothly as possible. This will include advising you on the financial information you’ll need to collate, which will be central to securing the best financial settlement for you and your family.

St Basils Russia divorce cases in England

The High Court in London is poised to hear the biggest ever divorce case when Natalia Potanina make a bid to claim a share of her Russian oligarch ex-husband’s fortune. Having lost a legal battle in the Moscow courts, she has launched a bid for an estimated £5.8bn, just over one third of her ex-husband’s £15bn wealth.

Ms Potanina claims that she was by her husband’s side as he built his fortune during their 31 years of marriage. The couple split amid accusations by Ms Potanina that her husband had an affair with an employee who was 15 years his junior. Since his divorce, Vladimir Potanin has remarried and now has two children with his current wife, Ekaterina.

Leading lady divorce lawyer on the case

Vladimir Potanin had instructed eminent divorce lawyer Baroness Shackleton to represent him. This will give Shackleton a busy case load, alongside her current representation of Princess Haya bint Hussein in her court battle with husband Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai. (Needless to say, we very much agree with eminent lady divorce lawyers taking on high profile and complex divorce cases!)


Expensive parking…

In another case, millionaire Russian exile Boris Shemyakin lost a divorce case brought in the London courts with his estranged wife Elena Vasilyeva. This clears the way for her to make a claim against her husband in the English courts.

Mr Shemyakin, granted asylum in Britain eight years ago, has objected on the grounds that he and is wife reached a “final agreement” in Russia. A Russian court order awarded Ms Vasilyeva:

  • a £1m flat in Moscow
  • shareholdings worth £430,000
  • a parking space worth £38,000!

However, High Court judge Mr Justice Williams ruled that Ms Vasilyeva could claim for “financial relief” in England as despite the agreement it would be unjust to “close the door” on her claim. The couple disagree on how much Mr Shemyakin is worth, with his ex wife saying £115m and he saying between £3m and £4m.


Spend, spend, spend

Both cases are in stark contrast to much more amicable divorce of billionaire Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos. The Amazon founder will pay his wife a divorce settlement of $38bn (£29bn) in Amazon shares. This will make MacKenzie Bezos the fourth richest woman in the world, although she has already pledged to give away “at least” half of her wealth “until the safe is empty”. Even after the divorce payout, ex-husband Jeff will still be the richest person on the planet, worth a cool $118bn.


You owe me

However, a court order doesn’t always result in monies being paid. This time last year, Russian billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov was in contempt of court from refusing to pay his ex wife Tatiana £453m. Mr Akhmedov had been ordered to pay his ex-wife a 41% share of his £1bn fortune back in December 2016. Judge Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said that Mr Akhmedov has concealed assets and taken "numerous elaborate steps" to "conceal his wealth" and "evade enforcement of the judgment".


Expert divorce advice for high worth clients

At LGFL, we understand the complexities and intricacies of high worth divorce, and the hard work and sacrifices often made on both sides to amass a multi-million pound fortune. Call us for an appointment to discuss your situation at our highly discreet countryside offices just outside Reading, or to book a Skype or telephone call with one of our Directors.

Hand holding £50 notes for spousal maintenance

Should spousal maintenance be a 'meal-ticket for life', or a payment just to cover current requirements? At present, the law allows payment of spousal maintenance until the death of the payee. What’s more, a case in 2017 (Mills V Mills) saw a judge increase monthly maintenance payments to his former wife who he divorced over 15 years ago.

Baroness Hale, President of the UK Supreme Court, has said that:

“Research has clearly shown that a person who gives up work, even for a

few years, in order to concentrate on child care or other family responsibilities will never make up what they have lost. It is a dilemma for us all, but particularly for those in the professions who would dearly love to ‘have it all’.”

So, can any spouse really “have it all”? Director Rita Gupta delves a little deeper into this contentious subject.

Having it all v. having what’s realistic

We’ve all seen the headlines where a celebrity wife (and it is usually the wife) demands hundred of thousands per year to maintain the lifestyle they and their children are accustomed to. To many, these can seem excessive, but being wealthy is an expensive business.

At any level of income or wealth, the everyday realities are more pragmatic. There are mortgage repayments and maintenance costs for the family home to be paid, utility bills, food, activities and clothing for children, school fees, car insurance, family holidays, council tax, the list goes on. Then there is the need to provide children with the chance to experience new things and expand horizons through outings, adventures and sports, none of which come cheap.


The rising cost of living

What’s more, these costs are not fixed from the point of divorce onwards; mortgage rates can rise, and utility bills alone have risen by over 3% in the last year alone. Utility bills alone currently account for 5% of the average UK household income, according to MAS.

With an international perspective, the fall in the value of the pound abroad affects the price of European and other holidays. So it’s important that spousal maintenance is based on an accurate figure of ongoing needs, not just covering current costs.

That’s why at LGFL, we work for an accurate settlement that is rooted in the real world of rising costs, economic fluctuations and personal circumstances, which can of course change on both sides.


Flexible and realistic spousal maintenance

When you and your spouse divorce, you both can agree that maintenance payments will be automatically increased or decreased automatically year on year. Payments usually change in line with the retail or consumer prices index, to account for changes in the UK economy.

You can also agree a specified term for maintenance to be paid, such as until your youngest child has finished secondary school, or until one of you dies, or remarries. This is known as a Joint Lives order. You can also agree a fixed amount to be paid per month, or a percentage of the payee spouse’s income.

Can spousal maintenance agreements be changed?

You can agree between yourselves, initially through mediation, to vary payments, and then apply for a court order to make that agreement binding. If you can’t agree, one ex-spouse can apply to the court to change the amounts payable.

Courts have a range of powers to change orders or even terminate them. However, judges can differ in their approach to the concept of alterations to spousal maintenance claims.

In 2015, Lord Justice Pitchford ruled that the wife of a wealthy racehorse surgeon should go out to work, and not believe that she should be “supported for life”.

“Mrs Wright has made no effort whatsoever to seek work or to update her skills...I am satisfied that she has worked on the basis...that she would be supported for life. It is essential... that she starts to work now.”

In the speech cited above, Baroness Hale took a more considered approach:

“My own view is that the goal of divorce settlements should be… to give each party an equal start on the road to independent living. But that equal start is bound to involve, for most couples, an element of compensation for the disadvantage, often the permanent disadvantage, resulting from the choices made by both parties during the marriage. Sometimes, but not always, the only way to do this is by open-ended periodical payments. To refer to this as a ‘meal ticket for life’ is indeed patronising and demeaning, but making an award for those reasons is not.”


A transition to independence

The Law Commission has stated that:

“The objective of financial orders made to meet needs should be to enable a transition to independence, to the extent that that is possible in light of the choices made within the marriage, the length of the marriage, the marital standard of living, the parties’ expectation of a home, and the continued shared responsibilities (importantly, child care).”

However, for many divorcees, financial independence isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The introduction of Universal Credit has caused particular problems for newly-single parents looking to return to work. A recent article on the MSN Money site highlighted the case of a working mum who has a good job, a 10-year-old daughter - and has had to resort to pay day loans after being switched from Working Tax Credits to Universal Credit.


Universal Credit and cash flow

The nub of the problem is cash flow, or more precisely, late payments. According to the article, under Working Tax Credits, monies were paid in advance, allowing parents to budget for childcare and monies to go almost direct from government to child care provider. However, under Universal Credit, payments by the parent/s must be made upfront, and claimed back one month later when proof of payment has been sent in.

This is one reason why this year’s summer holidays are particularly difficult for those reliant on Universal Credit. Childcare costs rise or suddenly appear for children normally at school during the parent’s working hours. Away-from-home holidays, treats, entertainment all need paying for, as does the perennial issue of new school uniforms for ever-growing children.

As the article’s author says:

“It is not easy to say that you are living in poverty; no one wants to stand up and admit that. We want to be proud, not seen to be struggling. It feels so insecure. … We are not asking for extra money, we’d just like the money we’re entitled to, to be accessible when – not after – we need it, at the point we need to pay, to stop the cycle of borrowing and, consequently, debt.”


Creating realistic spousal maintenance awards

At LGFL we help clients to delve deep into their finances to work out exactly how much they need for themselves and any dependent children to thrive, not just survive. We encourage both sides to provide full financial disclosure so that misunderstandings and misconceptions about the precise net worth of each party.

Also, whilst we always fight our client’s corner for maximum benefits, we also encourage realism about how much the payee can actually afford. There is little point in demanding large sums if the payee simply cannot afford them, resulting in resentment and hardship all round.

It’s also important to get it right first time as much as possible. A fully contested spousal maintenance application can cost a considerable sum, and the costs may actually outweigh any financial benefits gained for years.


LGFL: pragmatic advice, real world results

At LGFL, we offer a free 30-minute consultation for anyone considering a divorce, where you can talk through your situation and receive sound, legal advice. One of the reasons we offer this is to meet you, and for you to meet us. You need to see for yourself that we will always fight your corner and work tirelessly for the best outcome for you and your families. In turn, we need to know that you will work with us for the same outcome.

If you would like to meet and talk about your divorce financial settlement needs, or concerns over your current levels of spousal maintenance, call us.


It is crucial to get a grasp on your finances before any divorce proceedings start. This applies equally if you have a financial team working on your behalf, or whether it’s just you and your accountant.

If you want to reach a fair and reasonable financial settlement as part of your divorce, you’ll need to disclose your own assets, and in turn receive in turn full disclosure from your soon-to-be-ex-spouse.

In the second of her articles, Director Anne Leiper explains how full and open financial disclosure is important for any divorcing couple, regardless of their net worth.


How to account for your finances in 30 minutes

If you don’t know where to start with disclosing your finances, the Money Advice Service (MAS) have produced a handy downloadable spreadsheet that guides you through the process of accounting for all your financial assets.

Whilst the 30-minutes completion timeframe is wildly optimistic, it does lay out a sound action plan that anyone divorcing, billionaire or otherwise, should follow:

  • Draw up a budget and control current spending (divorces do cost money even when amicable)
  • Plan for costs, legal fees and “the likely expense of running two households” or more
  • Calculate your worth in terms of Property, Assets and Debts
  • Work out support arrangement costs, including child maintenance, private school fees, etc.

Saving up for your divorce

Whatever your income, it's always advisable to out money aside for your divorce. Use the MAS Quick Cash Finder to find out how much you spend on regular items such as lunches, coffees, gym membership, clothes, etc. It is astounding how these seemingly small items do add up, and savings here can also be considerable. This is particularly useful at a time when maintaining a sufficient cash flow will become important.

We doubt Jeff Bezos would bother counting his coffees, but the principle is sound for most of the rest of us!


Plan for legal fees

Any divorce in England and Wales incurs fixed fees from the court, which are set by the government. In addition, you should budget for your legal team’s fees, which will vary according to the complexity of your finances, family situation, financial setup and level of current contact with your spouse. (See below on how our transparent billing could save you money.)


Calculating your net worth - property

The value of a property will depend on market forces, but in terms of your divorce, it’ll also depend on:

  • The amount of any remaining mortgage
  • What’s left to pay off, by when and by whom
  • Any early repayment costs or fees
  • Subsequent selling costs

Again, the MAS spreadsheet will guide you through the process of calculating this. Calculating your debt is also very important, not just for an accurate figure of worth but to ensure you can continue with repayments after you separate.


Child maintenance costs

If you have dependent children, you will need to calculate how much child maintenance might be due by the non-resident parent. Needless to say if you’ve never had to pay this before, you’ll need to know what is the ‘going rate’ before entering into negotiations. The Child Maintenance Options website has a handy calculator that will give you a ballpark figure that we can take forward into negotiations.


Paying for pets

Remember, any pets are classed as chattels, which is a term to describe any item of property apart from land. So you’ll need to factor in who gets the pets, including valuable animals such as stud horses, livestock, racehorses and polo ponies, and the ongoing cost of keeping them. For more details, see our article: “Who gets the dog?”


The true cost of good advice = priceless?

Please don’t be tempted by online, ‘quicky’ or ‘cheap’ divorces. As experienced divorce lawyers, we have seen people give away so much they were entitled to simply by filling in their forms incorrectly or not taking time for proper legal advice. It saddens us that even just 30 minutes invested in talking to us and gaining invaluable insights could have ensured a totally different outcome.

As a new client, you may be entitled to our free, no obligation 30-minute consultation to discuss your divorce. You can also extend the consultation by prior arrangement to an hour or more if you wish. Call us, email us or fill in our reservation form online.


Why pay for professional legal advice

In any divorce, taking advice from an experienced family law firm such as LGFL will, literally, pay dividends. We know exactly how to ensure you get a full and fair settlement, and how to ensure your ex has made a full and frank disclosure of their assets. We can also help you protect your assets and your future from inflated claims made by your ex-spouse. Let’s be honest, the more you are worth, the more you stand to lose…


Transparent fees for your divorce

At LGFL, we are committed to transparent pricing for all legal action, including divorce. You are always fully informed of costs, with no hidden fees, and no unexpected charges. Our costs are usually based on the amount of time we spend working on your behalf, based on our standard hourly rates.

We fully itemise all work we do on your behalf, including complete details of what has been done. You can ring and ask for your outstanding bill figure and costs of any work in progress, at any time.


Expert financial settlement advice from LGFL

For more details on our bespoke, pragmatic and transparent approach to divorce:

High net worth for divorce

At the beginning of this month, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, finalised his divorce settlement to ex-wife MacKenzie. According to the law in Washington USA, assets acquired during marriage are to be divided equally. Bezos has a reported net worth of more than $157 billion, so his ex stands to gain a lot. An awful lot.

However, as a US lawyer pointed out:

“The major thing for billionaires is that most of the time, their assets are very complex and mostly illiquid — with Bezos, a lot of his assets are linked to Amazon stock.”

In the first of two articles for high worth couples on the brink of separating, Director Anne Leiper looks at the implications of financial disclosure for divorce. She also explains how her expert advice and determination for full disclosure can save you considerable time, money and stress.

Your business is his business?

The settlement agreed between Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos highlights one of the issues I deal with on a regular basis - joint financial involvement in a family business or group of companies. This ranges from a couple both being on the Board, to joint shares ownership, and companies/properties registered in a single spouse’s name.

That makes high worth divorce settlements much more complicated. Indeed, the same applies for divorce settlements for any marriage or civil partnership where your finances are intertwined with your business interests.

Both spouses must ensure they fully disclose all their assets at the start of any divorce process, in order to reach a robust, reliable and reasonable settlement. If new assets are disclosed (or uncovered) at later stages, things can get very awkward indeed.


Divorce and your company’s value

The divorce of high profile figures within a company can also have a detrimental effect of the company’s worth too. Bezos retained 75% of his shares in Amazon (59.1 million shares), still making him the wealthiest man in the world, whilst his wife retains 25%. Crucially, MacKenzie relinquished all her voting rights to her ex, so he still has control over the company. Perhaps it’s this openness that has seen Amazon’s shares rise 20% this year, rather than dip as some expected.


Defining your assets prior to divorce

So, what is the process of sorting and defining your financial assets? If you have a pre-nuptial agreement that lays out the basics, this is a very good place to start. It enables both parties to say “I came to this marriage with £xm”.

In a pre-nuptial agreement, there is usually agreement reached over how these and subsequent assets are to be allocated in the event of a couple separating. (If you’re not married, a cohabitation agreement can achieve the same.) Whilst a pre-nup is not currently legally binding in the UK courts, it is a significant factor the court will take into account.


What’s included in full financial disclosure

Financial settlements rely on complete and full disclosure by both parties of all monies and assets, including:

  • Cash in current accounts
  • Property, whether owned individually or jointly
  • Businesses owned
  • Savings
  • Investments
  • Pensions -workplace, state and private
  • Company shares
  • Personal assets such as jewellery, art, cars, etc

If you consider that your partner has not disclosed all their assets, whether intentionally or not, we will investigate further. If disclosure is not forthcoming, we can go to court to obtain orders to force disclosure. The court has the power to order your ex to fully disclose their assets. If you later discover assets that were not revealed at the time of the Consent Order, it can be expensive and difficult to go back to the court later and ask for more money.

Remember, disclosure works both ways. You may consider that you already know what your spouse owns (or not), or consider that parts of your financial affairs are simply none of their concern. As above, non or partial disclosure could result in legal action from your spouse.


Getting your financial agreement sorted

The good news is you can agree a financial divorce settlement without going to court. AT LGFL, this is the route we always advise. You can use mediation to come to an amicable and mutually agreeable solution that is tailor-made for you, your family and your situation.

With our help as experienced family lawyers, a legally binding agreement known as a Consent Order can be drawn up that works for both of you. This method keeps your divorce financial details out of the public domain (and hopefully, the press too). You can also include non-disclosure clauses.

If you can’t agree, then the process will have at least provided considerable information for any subsequent court hearing and ruling. It is a condition that you will have at least met together to consider mediation before you go to court (unless you are separating from an abusive partner).

At LGFL, we relish high worth divorce cases, applying our considerable expertise and experience to sort through any complex maze of financial arrangements and structures. Call us to discuss your situation in complete confidence either in person or via Skype if you are living or working abroad.

man and woman separated on sofa - unhappy marriage

If you’re in a marriage that’s breaking down, friends may encourage you to “Mend it, don’t end it.”

However, staying in an unhappy marriage that is beyond repair may be damaging to your health, a study by the University and Nevada and Michigan reported last year. The constant state of tension and repeated arguments about everything from the children and money to how to stack the dishwasher can, according to the report:

  • activate the release of stress hormones
  • cause inflammation in the body
  • cause changes in appetite regulation
  • compromise the functioning of the immune system

So, why do couples stay together in a relationship that is beyond the point of no return, but not actually violent, abusive, acrimonious or controlling? (Domestic violence and coercive control are issues we’ve dealt with in a previous article.)

Reason #1: fear

There are various reasons given by couples which stay on regardless, but the main reason given is fear. It’s a combination of fear of the unknown, fear of irrevocable change, and most of all, the fear of being alone without a companion or possibly your children.

As psychotherapist Richard B. Joelson explains in an article:

“For some… ending a relationship—however necessary and appropriate—is nearly impossible to tolerate. This, I believe, is a major reason why some people stay together; they justify it with beliefs such as, "The misery I know and am familiar with is preferable to the misery of being alone."


Fear of being alone

This fear of loneliness is compounded by what you, as a divorced person, might possibly lose in terms of social networks and support. You might feel that mutual friends will have to ‘choose’ which to remain friends with. You might also worry about losing touch with in-laws that you (and the children) are very fond of. Will being divorced affect your work, your relationships in the future, or your position in social groups such as at church or at parent’s evenings?


How to overcome that fear

Rest assured, the fear is usually considerably more frightening than the reality. Many of our clients find that once they have sought our legal advice and understood what the reality of life beyond divorce might look like, they are able to move forward with confidence. Their fears fade and their confidence grows through the divorce as they see the benefits to themselves, their families and their future lives.

As Tracy Mccole writing in Divorce magazine so neatly puts it:

“A family lawyer does more than assist you with filing paperwork. Reaching out to a lawyer when you are considering divorce can help you to understand what life could be like outside of the restraints of your marriage. Many divorce lawyers work to expose the unknown so you can be confident you are making the right choice for you and your family, regardless of whether that means you will be pursuing divorce or not.”

That’s why we at LGFL offer a free 30-minute consultation, so we can talk through your situation in complete confidence and show you the legal path through divorce and beyond. Apply for your free legal consultation now.

Beyond the fear

Other reasons cited for remaining in a broken relationship include:


Reason #2: Staying together for the sake of the children

At LGFL, we hear this all the time. However, the evidence suggests that children living in a home full of hostility and argument would often be better off if their parents made the break. The constant state of conflict can have a detrimental effect on children, as we explored in our recent article. As Nichi Hodgson writes in The Guardian:

“As a child witness to several parental divorces, I’ve always found deeply patronising the notion that people “walk away too soon” from failing relationships and damage their kids in the process. Trust me, I was never happier than when my parents were out of their multiple acrimonious marriages.”


Reason #3: The cost of divorce

There’s often a confusion between the cost of divorce in terms of court fees and legal costs, verses how much each party stands to ‘lose’. Divorce can be straightforward and costs managed to sensible levels, through couples keeping arguments to a minimum. A collaborative law approach and clear disclosure of assets can help a couple come to a financial agreement that is acceptable to both. Yes, it will initially cost more to live apart than together, but a shared gas bill is not a good reason to stay with a person you no longer love.

However, the perception is that either:

  • Your spouse will “take me for everything I’ve got”


  • “I’ll lose the house” (more on that later)

In these circumstances it’s vital to take legal advice early on to ensure that assets that are yours and yours alone are protected and retained, and joint assets are divided fairly. Equally, any maintenance payment expectations should be proportionate and reasonable, on both sides.


Reason #4: Embarrassment of relationship failure

Despite years of progress in the acceptance of all kinds of marriages, there is still a sense of shame in society if a relationship breaks down without a clear and unequivocal cause. Many couples find it difficult to tell friends, family, and work colleagues about their ‘failed’ marriage. This in turn can isolate them from the very support network they need to help them through their separation and divorce.


Reason #5: Potential loss of the family home

The property where you lived your married lives together and raised your family in happier times has a great deal of time, love and memories invested in it. Your own lives and those of your children are probably geographically centred on this home too. It’s been the hub of your lives for years, and suddenly it’s being viewed as an asset or perhaps, a liability to be disposed of.

In a previous article, we looked at reasons why holding on to a family property after divorce split may not be the best way forward. As the resident parent with children, the costs of running a large house may weigh heavily on you, for example. Or you may feel the whole house is too full of unpleasant (or conversely happy) memories. A clean break to a more suitable property might be more convenient, less emotional and more affordable.


To stay or to leave?

Data gathered by psychologist Levi Baker suggests that, in his words:

People tend to leave unhappy marriages when

  • (a) they expect the relationship will not improve, and
  • (b) they expect they can find a better alternative. (“She’s never going to change, and there are plenty of fish in the sea.”)

People tend to stay in unhappy marriages when

  • (a) they expect the relationship will improve, or
  • (b) they expect they can find no better alternative. (“We’d be happy if he’d just stop drinking, and who wants an old housewife like me anyway?”)

To this list we’d add one more ‘remainer’ type; those who want to avoid protracted conflict and antagonistic court proceedings. That’s where our mediation service can really help. Professional mediation can help resolve differences between you and your partner, and help with the arrangement of child and family solutions outside of court.

A mediated meeting is chaired by an independent mediator. It creates a safe and non-confrontational atmosphere where you and your spouse can discuss issues around the breakdown of your relationship, financial settlements and child arrangements. The outcome of these mediated discussions can then be to your own solicitor for independent legal advice, or to a court to be written into some form of agreement.

For more details on our mediation service, call us in complete confidence or fill in our enquiry form.


LGFL Ltd Listening with empathy, acting with authority

The start of a new year is a chance to look ahead and plan for your future. For many, that means setting goals for losing weight, giving up smoking, getting fit or changing jobs. For others, it may involve a deeper look at their own happiness, and their marriage or relationship.

If a relationship or marriage is under strain, the Christmas period can often reveal just how deep the issues lie.The combination of being with each other 24/7 and excess alcohol can cause things to be said or done that seal the need to separate, for your own wellbeing and that of your family. 

If you have realised that your marriage has run its course, and it’s time to go separate ways, then now is the time to plan. Divorce is never an easy choice to make, and it has many facets to consider, but starting to plan for it can make all the difference between feeling trapped or moving forward with your life.

For you, the biggest issue might be that first step - finding out who you can turn to for advice on divorce that is both expert and balanced. You also need to be confident that your family lawyers can offer the level of personal, reliable and expert service you require. Nobody just wants to be a case number in something so life-changing as a divorce.


What to look for in a firm of divorce lawyers

Here’s our checklist of what to look for in any firm of high quality divorce lawyers, to ensure you get the level of attention you deserve. Needless to say, it’s what we offer here at LGFL. 

1. High level of discretion

This may seem obvious, but discretion is very important. You may wish to consult them before your spouse even knows you are considering separating. A good firm of divorce lawyers will recognise the need for discreet communications and a ‘low profile’ meeting. 

2. Enhanced confidentiality checks

Divorce proceedings do require a number of checks to be made. These need to be done sensitively to ensure they don’t result in information being ‘given away’. It’s important to remember that whilst a divorce is a matter of public record, the reasons for it are not. In a divorce, BOTH parties are required to keep all information provided confidential.

3. You won’t bump into other clients

It isn’t just information that needs to be confidential. The last thing you want is to take extra care in choosing a discreet law firm, only to bump into someone you know (or your partner know) in reception. We ensure that our clients never meet, either at our own discreet offices in Swallowfield or at our meeting spaces in Reading and Basingstoke. 

4. High end service from a boutique law firm

High end service begins with the person who you first meet. So often in big firms, however, that is the first and last time you meet them. Your case may be assigned to another person, often not as qualified or experienced as the person you first met. When you come to LGFL, for the first time you will meet one of our two Directors. That Director will remain your primary contact throughout your dealings with us. Not a junior, not a trainee, but that same Director you first met. So you always receive the highest level of expertise we offer.

5. Not just a number

If a firm of divorce lawyers seem ultra-keen to take on your case, it’s OK to wonder why. We don’t take on every client who wants us to represent them, because we want to give every client the level of individual attention they deserve. Our clients are always a person with their own unique situation and requirements, not a legal case without a face. That’s why so many of our clients recommend us to their friends - they know they’ll get the same individual, personalised and expert service they received.

6. Friendly, experienced support team

Our Directors enjoy superb support from our team, a vital part of your divorce proceedings. Their experience and knowledge ensure the smooth running of the ‘backroom’ activities, from the proper preparation of court papers to our transparent billing.


Come and meet us

We want you to feel confident that we are the right divorce lawyers for you, and nothing reveals that better than a face to face, no obligation chat over coffee. So, we offer a free 30 minute consultation, in person or via Skype, for any qualifying potential client. You can come to our discreet countryside offices near Swallowfield, or meet us in a dedicated meeting space in central Reading at a time to suit you during the day.

End of the road sign

A new consultation announced by Justice Secretary David Gauke into no-fault divorce is very welcome news for LGFL Ltd Director Rita Gupta.

It seems so strange to many divorcing couples who walk into our offices that in an age of democracy and equality in marriage, there is still a need for grounds for divorce based in laying the blame on one spouse. It doesn’t sit with the principles of Resolution we ascribe to. The Justice Secretary’s consultation will, according to Family Law Week, “Call for the existing fault-based system of establishing marriage breakdown to be abolished.” It can’t come soon enough in my view.


The five facts for divorce

Under the current legislation in England and Wales, The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, grounds for a divorce must be based on one of five key facts:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion (for a period of at least two years)
  • Separation for a period of at least two years, in the case of an agreed divorce
  • Separation, for a period of at least five years, in the case of an contested divorce

In Scotland, couples without children of the marriage under 16 can divorce more quickly if they can prove that their marriage has broken down through:

  • One year's separation with consent of both partners
  • Two years separation without consent


Why reform is required

The need to allocate blame in divorce can trigger major emotion turmoil and upset for both parents and children during the divorce process, as the BBC’s legal correspondent Clive Coleman discussed:

“Many believe that when divorcing couples are being torn apart emotionally and financially, and trying to make living arrangements for their children, assigning blame to one party can only exacerbate an already stressful process…. There will be some who fear such a (no-fault) system will undermine marriage, but many believe it could remove a layer of stress and anxiety from one of life's most traumatic experiences.”


The Tini Owens case

While campaigners have long argued that these grounds for divorce are outdated and in need of reform, the recent case of Tini Owens has brought the issue into sharp focus. Mrs Owens wanted a divorce, Mr Owens did not. According to the law, Mrs Owens had to be separated from her husband for at least five years before she could be granted a non-consensual divorce. The Supreme Court were obliged to uphold that legal requirement, albeit reluctantly for some of the judges, locking Mrs Owens into her ‘loveless’ marriage until February 2020.


Grounds for change

The new consultation will examine the proposals for a new single ground for divorce of ‘irretrievable breakdown’. It is said that the Ministry of Justice also want to end the chance for a spouse to contest a divorce, and to set a fixed minimum time frame for divorce of six months. The same would apply to the dissolving of civil partnerships.

In an interview for The Times, Justice Secretary Gauke said:

“(I am) increasingly persuaded … that what we have at the moment creates more antagonism than we really need. I don’t think the best way of helping the institution of marriage is by putting bureaucratic hurdles in the way of a divorce.”


Welcoming the consultation

Former chairman of Resolution and long-time campaigner for divorce reform, Nigel Shepherd, welcomed the news:

“The government appears to have heeded our calls to make our divorce system fit for the modern age, and we will continue to push for this much-needed, overdue reform to be implemented as soon as possible.”

It’s been a long campaign too. The Law Commission first recommended a system of no-fault divorce back in 1990. It was to be introduced in a 1996 Act of Parliament, but the requirement for spouses to attend so-called information meetings was feared to be unworkable.


Consultation to legislation

It’s important to stress that this is a consultation at this stage, but it’s a strong indication of the intent for change within the government and Ministry of Justice. As Christina Blacklaws, president of the Law Society said to The Guardian newspaper:

“It’s time to bring this law into the 21st century to reflect the society we live in and we look forward to working with government to ensure the reforms are fit for purpose.”


Divorce with less stress

At LGFL Ltd, we take a practical and pragmatic approach to divorce. Our principal aim is to achieve the best divorce process and financial settlement for our clients, whilst always putting the interests of their children first and foremost. Divorce is stressful enough without the legal paperwork and jargon adding to it. So we keep our clients informed, explaining each stage of the process and keeping the process moving forward.

If your marriage is irrecoverably broken down and you wish to discuss the option of divorce, call us. We offer a no-obligation 30-minute consultation to qualified clients at our discreet countryside offices, or in central Reading, Berkshire.


Ballroom dancers - Curse of Strictly

Whether you’re a “Strictly” fan or not, it’s been hard to avoid the outpouring of scrutiny and accompanying moral indignation in the media over comedian Seann Walsh and his dance partner Katya Jones. The pair (she married, he in a long-term relationship) were caught on camera sharing what was  described as a “drunken snog” outside a London pub just hours after filming the popular BBC show.

Walsh’s long-term girlfriend took to Twitter to announce they had split. and that she had taken the cat. Katya Jones’ husband Neil kept quiet and avoided the press.


The curse of “Strictly”

The number of affairs and marital splits that have happened during or shortly after the popular BBC show has led to the idea of “the curse of Strictly”. Presenter Claudia Winkleman has said that she doesn’t believe in the curse as such, but that:

“It’s intoxicating, Strictly, because you’re all part of this extraordinary juggernaut.”

However, former Strictly dancer Brendon Cole believes the opposite, saying in an interview with “Fabulous” magazine:

“It’s definitely a thing. You can’t deny it after all these years of seeing different people falling in love. … It’s the nature of the beast that if you work closely with somebody, love is going to blossom, and hopefully the people involved are single. Every year you’re guaranteed some smoke somewhere.”

Celebrity splits post-Strictly

Several celebrities has split from their off-screen partners and become romantically involved with their on-screen dance partners. Their quoted reasons for doing so are varied and reveal the kind of pressures many couples may feel.


Louise and Jamie Rednapp

Runner-up in 2017, Louise split from her footballer husband  after admitting to She told The Telegraph:

“I became a sort of Stepford Wife, wanting to be perfect at it. It was only when I agreed to do Strictly Come Dancing that I realised I couldn’t just go back to that.”


Joanne Clifton and Joseph Edward-Bader

Professional dancer Joanne split from her long-term partner shortly after winning the show back in 2016.


Georgia May Foote and Giovanni Pernice

Georgia and Giovanni were partners in the 2015 series of Strictly, whilst she was in a relationship with “Coronation Street” actor Sean Ward. Ward allegedly struggled with jealousy over her appearances on the show, and the couple split mid-show. Georgia later dated Giovanni but just 12 months later they too went their separate ways.


Ben Cohen and Kristina Rihanoff

After his involvement in Strictly 2013, rugby player Ben left his wife of 23 years, Abby Blayney, and the couple were subsequently divorced. Ben and dancer Kristina are still together and have a baby daughter together.


Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev

The queen of “Countdown” Rachel Riley was married to millionaire Jamie Gilbert when she took part in Strictly 2013. By the start of 2014, she had paired up with her dance partner Pasha, and are still together. Riley has been quoted as saying:

“I don’t think there’s a Strictly curse, but it does serve as a magnifying glass that shows up pre-existing fault lines.”


Kevin and Karen Clifton

As the case of Katya Jones and her Strictly dancer husband Neil, married professional dancers are not immune either. In 2017, dancers Kevin and Karen Clifton split, but the pair still both appear on the show. Indeed, they claim that being apart privately but working together professionally actually works better for them.

Jealousy, intimacy and Strictly

“Strictly” is hard work. Contestants need to train long hours alongside their day jobs, which this year includes shifts in a hospital for Dr. Ranj. Dancer Kevin has been following his celeb partner Stacey around the UK to practice in between her filming commitments. Being part of the series usually involves spending more time with their dance partner than their life partner. It also involves a great deal of physical contact with dancers whose ability to be top in their professional centres on being physically fit, elegant, glamorous - and attractive.

The result is a recipe for feelings of jealousy for even the most devoted of partners, even before the sudden spotlight of media attention affects their everyday lives. For those in relationships that are already under strain, or where one partner may be emotionally insecure or controlling (gaslighting), it can prove a tipping point.


What happens on tour…

The majority of celebrities will have already experienced the strain of lives spent on tour and away from family and friends. Whether abroad playing sports, or on international tours with bands, they will already have experienced the closeness of their ‘showbiz’ family. Just as in “Strictly”, they will spend considerable amounts of time and enjoy jokes and experiences that their partners are simply not part of, often for weeks on end.

That can lead to temptation and transgression, but as performers always used to say, “What happens on tour, stays on tour”. It may not be right or honest, but the phrase encompasses an understanding of human frailties and the need to sometimes let things go without fuss. However, social media is much less forgiving, when scandal can go viral in minutes. No wonder that The Guardian dubbed the Walsh/Jones scandal “Strictly a show trial”.


Still in the competition

On Sunday, the public vote kept Walsh and Jones in the competition, which must be a relief both for the pair and the show producers. However, it’s up to them to separate their professional and private lives, so that they can dance with the passion, energy and physical commitment that’s required to win. That could be the biggest challenge of all.

If you are in a relationship under strain, or feel you are being manipulated or controlled by your spouse, call us. We offer a free 30-minute consultation to discuss your situation, normally within 48 hours of application.