A Marriage Story

Bearing in mind the six Oscar nominations, it cannot only be divorce lawyers who have enjoyed watching A Marriage Story.

The Netflix hit depicts the story of a couple who are going through the sometimes-acrimonious process of divorce and provides an insight into the emotional turmoil can that be caused during a difficult time.

The success of the film and comment on the topic it focuses on has been discussed in a recent article in the Guardian.

A moment in the divorce process that always makes me take a step back and reflect, is just before the first Court Hearing in the financial proceedings. When the case is called into court, both parties and their lawyers will align outside the courtroom and wait to be called in by the Judge.

The former couple will be avoiding eye contact with each other and I always at that moment imagine their wedding day. At one point in their lives this couple stood in front of all their family and friends in a gorgeous venue and made their vows to each other. Now they are stood with lawyers in what is likely to be a distinctly grey building with eighties décor, about to argue to the death over the cutlery set they got as a wedding gift.

The Guardian spoke to several divorce lawyers who had differing views on the process of divorce.

From experience, of course, not all cases of divorce are acrimonious, there are on occasion cases where the parties have agreed to divorce each other based on one of the current non-fault “facts” that are available in the UK. Namely two years separation by consent or five years separation, and through sensible discussions or with the assistance of a mediator they have made decisions in regards to how their financial assets should be divided and what the arrangements for the children should be.

In these types of cases, my job, particularly in respect of the financial settlement, is to review both parties’ financial disclosure and provide advice to my client in regards to whether the settlement that he or she has reached with their partner is fair, based on the individual circumstances of the case.

Of course, not all cases are like this. In reality the majority of cases will have some form of acrimony. The usual areas of dispute are disagreements over the financial spilt or issues concerning the children. Children issues also tend to be linked to finances as there is a direct correlation between the number of nights a party spends with the children and the child maintenance payments that they make to the other parent.

I would agree with the comment of Mr Perryman in the Guardian article. The court doesn’t actually care about the reason why anyone is getting divorced; the divorce process is an administrative exercise for the court.

The UK divorce court is not a court of morals. The actions of the party “at fault” will have no effect on the outcome of the financial negotiations.

I often advise my clients that their legal fees would be better spent dealing with achieving a favorable financial settlement or securing adequate time with their children upon divorce.

It is yet to be seen whether the introduction of the new “non fault” divorce process will have any real effect on the animosity that can arise between the parties.

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