We’ve just had an interesting case reported of a judgement given by my local Designated Family Judge, HHJ Lynn Roberts. She has given really good judgements in other cases and this one hits the mark again.
The case report is VW v BH  EWFC B68 and it is an interesting read about a defended divorce petition, something very rarely seen.
You may have seen a lot in the news about ‘Good divorce’ and family lawyers pressing for a change in the law to allow for divorce without having to wait at least 2 years or point the finger of blame.
This case is a prime example of why the law needs to be changed to avoid misunderstandings by litigants in person and expensive court cases.
The case involved a husband and wife who separated in May 2017. The wife says that the marriage was over because she found out the husband had been having an affair with her best friend for the last 20 odd years and then had moved on to girlfriend number two. She said he was a drinker, a bully and she would put up with a lot but not an affair.
The husband said first of all there was no affair and then said that there was an affair/s as the wife said but that the wife knew about them so she could not divorce him for that (even though the affair with Girlfriend Number 2 was still going on). He said he wanted a divorce because of the wife’s behaviour.
Adultery is usually something misunderstood. Firstly, it can only be between a man and a woman and in the context of divorce, as the judge said:
“it is necessary for the petitioner to prove that the adultery has taken place and that she finds it intolerable to live with the respondent. It is not necessary for the adultery to be the cause of the breakdown of the marriage. In other words, the petitioner finding that it is intolerable to live with the respondent may relate to matters completely extraneous to the adultery which she alleges.” (my emphasis)
It really does seem to be an extraordinary case with a lot of wasted costs, family members called to give evidence and real upset. As the judge commented:
“Mr H’s whole case has indeed been completely futile, a huge waste of money, a tragic destruction of family relationships, and all, in my opinion, to satisfy Mr H’s own vanity and need to be in control and for the other reasons I have suggested earlier. All he had to do was to not contest the divorce, a divorce he wanted, as virtually everybody else in the country does, and this couple would have had their decree nisi last year, the various relationships would, in all likelihood, have been well on the way to healing by now and the money saved for the family”
The law can be complex. Solicitors study for a significant period of time to qualify and they continue to study after that, keeping up to date, adding to their skills. It seems in this case, the husband did have legal advice and then sacked his solicitors. You cannot help but wonder if that is because they were not telling him what he wanted to hear but giving him the correct legal advice that he should have listened to. What an expensive mistake – and he now enters the financial proceedings having been found by the Family Court to be dishonest and untruthful.
So, what is the message? Get legal advice.
If you speak to a solicitor and can’t get on with them, speak to another. If you get the legal advice and it is not what you were hoping for, ask for a second opinion.
If the advice you keep getting is consistent but not what you want to hear, perhaps think that you need to change your mindset, not continue thinking that everyone else is wrong.
If you don’t like the law as it is, contact your Member of Parliament and get involved in trying to make the changes you think are fair. Don’t blame the lawyers and the courts who are operating within the system defined by Parliament, elected by the people.
If you need practical, proactive legal advice, contact us.