Magical Time for Some… Difficult Time for Others

Christmas can be a magical time for families. It can also be a very difficult time for others. Loneliness, bereavement and separation can be hugely challenging and Christmas can intensify feelings of loss and sometimes despair.

When you have separated, communication often becomes hard, but discussions with your ex around Christmas are needed more than ever. Who is going to buy which presents, how much are each of you going to spend, and how the children share their time with each of you (and extended families) over the Christmas period can seem impossible.

These issues are important and many people worry about them in the months leading up to Christmas.

Can you have those conversations without them turning into a shouting match or a stand off? The answer is yes. How you have those conversations is undoubtedly the more important question.

Often, when couples argue, they are repeating earlier arguments they have had. It can seem difficult to break an impasse, and even more difficult to have a constructive conversation without it becoming emotional or fraught with anger.

Receiving information and advice at an early stage is invaluable. It allows the discussions you need to have to be put in a legal context which can often break a deadlock and inevitably, taking a constructive approach is the most appropriate way forward.

If you are starting to dread the conversations you need to have before Christmas, or the issues you may face over the festive period and want to know what your options are moving forward, then we will be able to help

To find out more please email Jo Scott at or call for a chat on 0191 2970011

Does There Always Have to be Someone to Blame?

A recent high-profile divorce case has firmly placed the issue of no-fault divorce back on the family law agenda. The case of Owens v Owens, was interesting and unusual, because the Judges at the Court of Appeal, found that the reasons given by the wife as to why her marriage had broken down, were simply not good enough. The case revives an on-going debate as to whether there is still a need for the Courts to know the details of why a marriage no longer works, and who is to blame. Should it not just be enough that one, or both of parties feels like the marriage is so broken that it cannot be fixed?

The law behind this, dates back to 1973. It outlines that the person applying for the divorce needs to evidence the ‘fact’ which has caused the marriage to break down irretrievably, limited to unreasonable behaviour, adultery, 2 years separation, 5 years separation or desertion.

Many think that this legislation is archaic and needs to be updated to reflect modern life. There is an argument that there are occasions where a no-fault divorce would be much more appropriate, and much less contentious, particularly where there are children of the marriage. ‘Resolution’ an organisation which works with family lawyers, are campaigning to ‘End the Blame Game’.

There is, of course, a counter-argument, that in terms of what getting married stands for, nothing has really changed since 1973. It is still, as it was then a commitment between two people that they are going to spend the rest of their lives together. Although undoubtedly the mechanics of married life have changed, the commitment is exactly the same. Would a no-fault divorce make the process of divorce all too simple, and somehow derogate the institution that is marriage?

The Supreme Court is set to hear the case of Owens v Owens in Spring 2018, and whatever the outcome, it will be of huge significance to both family lawyers and people considering a separation.

As things stand, a fact still needs to be cited in the divorce papers. If you are contemplating a separation or divorce, this is something we can discuss with you as well as all other aspects of the legal process including financial settlements and arrangements relating to children.

To find out more please email Jo Scott at or call for a chat on 0191 2970011

Divorce and Separation – What do we tell the kids?

One of the most difficult and emotive aspects of dealing with a divorce or separation is what to tell ‘the kids’ and how best to support the children, through what will undoubtedly be a difficult time.

What we know from our experience as family lawyers, is that the collaborative process helps separating parents to help their children.

In fact, it is arguably the most important and beneficial outcome of the collaborative process that separating parents find they are able to co-parent successfully into the future and make decisions between them that impact in a positive way on their children.

In collaborative law, the agenda is set by you, and the children remain high on the agenda throughout. Matters to be discussed range from how and when to tell the children together about the separation, to agreeing the times the children will spend with each parent moving forward.

In our experience, if parents can have these meaningful conversations at an early stage, it will provide good foundations to co-parent successfully in the future. Also, the fact that agreement can be reached together, rather than the court making and imposing terms means that children see their parents are able to work together as “team Mum and Dad”.

The collaborate process itself consists of a series of ‘round the table meetings’ between the separating parties and their lawyers, who are trained in this specialist area of work. The lawyers involved work together and work with you to get the best outcome for all, including your children. They will make an early assessment as to whether the collaborative process is the right approach, as it will not always be suitable.

As a starting point, in terms of what to tell ‘the kids’, Resolution, a body that works with family lawyers, suggest the following statements are helpful:

“While the feelings we have for each other have changed, we will never stop loving you”
“We know this will be hard for you, and we are sorry”
“What has happened is not your fault – you did not cause this”
“Divorce is a grown-up problem that you cannot change”
“You will always have a family. Instead of being a family in one home, you will have a family in two homes”
“We will both continue to be a part of your life”

To learn more about the collaborative process please email Jo Scott at or call for a chat on 0191 2970011

If you are separating, then don’t end up like Dr Foster

Many of us will have been watching Dr Foster, the TV series based on a G. P., whose husband had an affair, and is now re-married with a small child.

People who have been through a divorce or a separation will understand the feeling of hurt, anger, rage and bewilderment when a relationship breaks down.

One of the most powerful characters is Tom, the teenager caught in the middle of his divorced parents. His confusion is evident, causing him to fight with friends and not be able to effectively communicate with either of his parents. He witnesses his parents fighting with each other and sees their evident distress.

We know children can come through a divorce unscathed, but we also know that how their parents deal with that separation will have a direct impact on how children can cope with what is inevitably a difficult time in their lives.

Putting feelings of betrayal aside is hugely challenging when you are feeling hurt. It is however probably very necessary.

There are several ways that a divorce or separation can be dealt with. The majority of cases do not have to be dealt with by a Court. Where parents can agree arrangements for their children (unlike the Fosters), a Court will not become involved.

There are alternatives to Court that separating couples should consider. Mediation is a non- Court based process, which helps separating couples discuss arrangements for their children or resolve financial matters after a separation. The Collaborative process, which has often been described as mediation with legal advice, allows you to deal with matters that cannot be dealt with in a Court process. It allows you to work through those feelings of hurt that can have an impact on how you co-parent your children. It also allows you to be in control of the process rather than the Courts determining the outcome for you. The collaborative process allows you to have a communication channel with your ex-partner so you can effectively discuss your children and how they are coping. The process involves collaborative lawyers and their clients have meetings together to find solutions and an outcome that benefits the family as a whole.

There are limited number of local lawyers that are trained in this process, Jo Scott at Kidd & Spoor is one of the few specialists.

If you have separated or are considering a separation and would like more information please email Jo Scott at or call for a chat on 0191 2970011