Monday, August 31, 2009

New online magazine for people going through a break-up

I have received the following press release from Wikivorce:

Press Release

September is usually a bumper month for divorce lawyers, and this year they could be busier than ever.

With the promised BBQ summer having turned into a wintery washout, many frustrated parents who have spent the summer indoors struggling to entertain their bored kids, may soon be heading to a solicitor to start divorce proceedings.

Divorce lawyers can be costly and they focus predominantly on the legal issues. But people going through a break-up have much broader needs, and often require access to a trusted source of emotional support, practical help, advice and inspiration.

That support and advice is now available at Wikivorce the UK's largest divorce website, and judging by the growing membership - which currently stands at over 40,000 members, there is evidently a huge demand for all the services and information that the website offers.

Today, as part of an ongoing programme of innovation, Wikivorce has announced the launch of Wikizine - an online magazine aimed specifically at the needs of divorcing/separating couples.

Wikizine - First Issue
A unique online magazine dedicated to meeting the needs of divorcing and separating couples, Wikizine will provide advice on starting over, DIY, housing, fashion and beauty, parenting, relationships, finances, law, fitness and health, travel and careers.

Wikivorce founder, Ian Rispin says:
"The break-up support options currently available to people are limited and difficult to access. We wanted to bring together in one publication the best advice and inspiration from legal experts to relationship coaches, from financial advisors to fitness instructors. Just a couple of months after our initial brainstorming - the magazine has been developed and on Monday will become an exciting reality".

The co-editors of Wikizine are Linda Sheridan and Amanda Quinn. With three divorces, four children and two young grandchildren between them, they understand the issues people face during a difficult divorce or separation.

Linda has been the Wikivorce editor for over 12 months, and Amanda, now a non-practising barrister, has been the legal advisor at Wikivorce since April 2008. Both are well known to the Wikivorce membership, and are looking forward to welcoming both old faces and new members to the magazine.

Linda Sheridan says: "The magazine already has a real and very exciting buzz about it. I am delighted to be working with our wide range of contributors, which include: our own GP, Dr Lundy, health and fitness expert, Elliot Oxley, relationship guru Jackie Walker, our cook Emily-Jo, as well as the inspirational Suzy Miller and many more. There really is something for everyone - from advice on how to dress well on a budget to understanding depression and everything in between. I can't wait to take off the wrapping on the 31st August and open Wikizine up to our membership".

Linda and Amanda, the Wikizine co-editors can be contacted on:
01942 275 087 or at

Ian Rispin, the Wikivorce founder can be contacted by email:
Link to Wikizine
Wikizine Links

Click the arrow to the right to visit Wikizine.

Remember though - Wikizine isn't live until 9am on Monday.

In the meantime feel free to visit our main site Wikivorce (see links below).

About Wikivorce

Wikivorce Logo Established in 2007, Wikivorce has quickly grown to become the most visited divorce website in the UK, offering legal, practical and emotional support to divorcing and separating couples. With well over 40,000 members, the site welcomes 1 new visitor every minute, and has over 1 million page views per month.

Further information about Wikivorce and its founder, Ian Rispin.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Do Your Own Divorce: Published today!

My book Do Your Own Divorce is finally published today. The book is primarily a guide for litigants in person and should enable most people to deal with their divorces themselves without recourse to a lawyer. Of course, there are occasions when it is not recommended that you 'go it alone', and the book makes these clear. Even so, the book could easily save you £1000 or more in legal fees, even in the most straightforward cases.

An alternative way to use the book would be to deal with one or more of the simpler aspects of the matter yourself (such as the divorce itself, if there are no complications), and only instruct a solicitor to deal with the more complex aspects, such as finances. In this way you could still save yourself hundreds of pounds, and probably more.

Lastly, the book could even save money for those who have instructed solicitors to deal with all aspects of the matter. Imagine, as often happens, that you have a minor or general query regarding your matter. Ringing your solicitor for an answer will cost you about £20, but you may well find the answer in the book, which will cost you just £10.99 (or only £7.14 on Amazon). Otherwise, the information in the book can act as a useful addition to the advice given to you by your solicitor.

The book comprises 264 pages and includes the following:
  • A guide to divorce proceedings, including completing all the required forms.
  • A chapter on sorting out arrangements for children.
  • Details of child support maintenance.
  • A chapter on sorting out financial/property arrangements, whether by agreement or through the court.
  • Chapters on domestic violence, costs and mediation.
  • Specimen forms.
  • Useful addresses and websites.
  • A detailed glossary of legal terms.
  • Updated to May 2009.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Parents Are Equal

An article in the Daily Mail today deserves some comment. Not because it is great journalism (I would look elsewhere to find that), but because I think it demonstrates some commonly held views and misconceptions. Appearing in the 'Femail' section of the paper, the article is entitled "The courts took my children away from me because I'm a working mother", and describes how Jo Joyce, a 'high-flying divorce lawyer', (temporarily) lost her children after her divorce because she was a working mother. Jo says that she has "seen the way courts penalise women during custody disputes for daring to have a career as well as children", and the author of the piece goes on to say:"Jo has become part of a worrying phenomenon. Courts are increasingly ruling that women live apart from their children after a divorce."

I'm sorry, but what is 'worrying' about that? Parents are equal, aren't they? What is important is who can best care for the children, not whether that parent is the mother or the father (or both of them). Clearly, there is an anti-father agenda here, and if you read on you will find it:

"Significantly, the British courts take no account of a mother's natural nurturing instincts or that in a family she invariably takes the lead role in looking after children."

I had to check that I hadn't misread this. "A mother's natural nurturing instincts" sounds to me like something out of a 1950s parenting manual, and I find it quite remarkable that it is still being used in 2009. As for expecting the courts to take account of the fact that the mother is usually the main carer, that of course falls into the trap of failing to treat each case on its own merits.

As the article quite rightly points out, the courts must consider the interests of the child above everything. That being the case (and, I trust, accepted as the correct approach by Daily Mail readers), surely it is clear that it would be against the interests of the child to have as a starting-point a position which favours one parent over the other, before even examining the facts. One of the relevant facts is, of course, the capability of each parent of meeting the child's needs. If one parent is working full-time and the other is not (or is working part-time), then that is a factor (but not necessarily a deciding factor) that should be taken into account, irrespective of which parent is the one working full-time. This being true, it is no surprise that in a time when more mothers are working full-time and more fathers are not, more fathers are obtaining residence orders - the law is merely reflecting what is happening in society. However, to take the view that more fathers obtaining residence is wrong per se is absurd.

A quick glance through the comments to the article suggest that the author's views are shared by many in Daily Mail land, which is slightly worrying. Perhaps the family justice system should do more to educate people to explain how it works and, more importantly, why it works that way.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New free online resource: An Introduction to Family Law

As part of the Insite Law Magazine free online resources project, the first chapter of my book An Introduction to Family Law has now gone up. As the title suggests, the book will be an introductory text, designed primarily for students and others wishing to re-train in family law. The book will be added to as time permits, and updated as required.

The first chapter of the book outlines the law on marriage. The second chapter, setting out the law and procedure on divorce (and judicial separation) will follow shortly...

Blawg Review #226

Just a quick post to recommend Blawg Review #226, written by Lucy Reed of Pink Tape. An excellent review, mentioning a number of UK blogs. Lucy says that writing it last night made a change from spending her Sunday evening "reading 600 pages of detail about the disintegration of tomorrow’s client’s family". She also has some rather good news...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Do Your Own Divorce - Now in print!

Today I received the first printed copy of my book Do Your Own Divorce, and here it is, all 264 pages of it (not 162 pages, as incorrectly stated on Amazon). I'm very pleased with the result (although I would say that...) and, yes, just a little proud - as I suppose most authors are when they see their first masterpiece in print. I'm told that copies should be appearing in bookshops soon...

Podcast Interview #10: Sam Hasler - An American Perspective

Today I am speaking to Sam Hasler, a US attorney and sole practitioner based in Anderson, Indiana, USA, where his areas of practice include business litigation and family law. He is the author of Sam Hasler's Indiana and Family Law Blog. We talk in detail about the US system of family law, with particular reference to Indiana, discussing the differences from (and similarities with) the system in England and Wales. We also talk about the effect of the recession, and why Sam got into blogging.

The podcast can be found here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


It seems that it is just not self-evident to some that women and men are created equal. I was sent the link to the following video by Joel Katz of Religion and State in Israel:

Not having the time these days to enter into argument, I shall make no further comment - not that any should be required.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Family Law Wiki: Update

Well, I continue to work all hours Richard Dawkins sends building The Family Law Wiki. The basic structure is now just about all in place, even if many of the pages have not yet been created. It does, however, now extend to over 100 pages, although some of those pages do not yet have any content. There is at least basic content on all of the other pages, including the whole sections on marriage, cohabitees, taxation and human rights.

Back to work...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Takes my breath away...

While I continue to be distracted from this blog by other things, my researcher John Hirst keeps doing the business. The latest story for him to send my way is another tale of the wonders of Islam. Apparently, Afghanistan has passed a law permitting Shia men to deny their wives food and sustenance if they refuse to obey their husbands' sexual demands. As Lewis Black once said: Takes my breath away...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Jacqui Gilliatt joins The Family Law Wiki

I am very pleased to announce that my good friend Jacqui Gilliatt has joined as a contributor to The Family Law Wiki. Jacqui is a highly experienced family law barrister, as well as being the author of the Bloody Relations blog and the General Editor of the Family Law Week blog. Her expertise and experience will be greatly appreciated.

Dogs are not chairs

It seems that, in New Jersey at least, dogs are not chairs or other types of furniture, nor are they automobiles or pensions. Above the Law reports that an appeals panel has decided that dogs were "like "heirlooms, family treasures and works of art" whose "special subjective value" should be factored in by the court. Money damages were not adequate compensation." Accordingly, there should be a retrial in a case involving formerly engaged couple Doreen Houseman and Eric Dare, who are in dispute as to who should have custody of their 'nearly six-year-old brown pooch', Dexter. Dare's attorney James M. Carter apparently described the decision as the "first step down a slippery slope" that could lead to the courts spending "a ridiculous amount of time" on these issues. Still, Mr Carter, just think of the increase in your fee income...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Keep Lawyers Out of Science

I have mentioned the great Carl Sagan here before. Today I received from Amazon the new DVD set of his marvellous and seminal television series Cosmos. Of course, I have seen the series before, just as I have read the book, but you can't get enough of a (very) good thing...

I have just watched the first episode of the series, Shores of the Cosmic Ocean (yes, you can see it on YouTube, but the quality hardly does it justice). In this episode Sagan takes us on a journey from half way to the edge of the universe, past distant galaxies to an insignificant corner of the universe where we find an insignificant galaxy. In an insignificant corner of that galaxy we find an insignificant star, and orbiting that insignificant star is an insignificant planet, the Earth. It has been my lot in life to spend my time dealing with the laws of an insignificant corner of that insignificant planet. For a foolish moment it occurred to me that the great minds wastefully devoted to such an insignificant pastime as the law could have achieved great things had they devoted those minds to the pursuit of science. Then I came to my senses: perhaps it is better after all that we keep lawyers out of science...

The Family Law Wiki

Time to reveal my new project. The Family Law Wiki aims to cover all aspects of family law and procedure and, wherever possible, to link to other free online resources. Obviously, this is a massive undertaking, but hopefully in time it will provide a useful resource for lawyers, students and others interested in family law in England and Wales.

At present, the content of the Wiki is, of course, limited (give me a chance - I have only been working on it for a week!). Much of it is little more than a framework, many topics have limited or no content and other topics do not yet have pages at all. However, I hope that there is sufficient there for you to see what I am intending to achieve.

Please have a look around the Wiki. Any constructive comments are welcome!

[Please note that the Wiki is private and is only open to invited members.]

Saturday, August 08, 2009


Divorce can be heartbreaking, but having to sell off your toy collection to pay for it is just cruel. This is what has happened to Fred Matt. Still, Fred's is no ordinary collection. It comprises some 2,250 vehicles and has been valued by experts at between £270,000 and £300,000. Fred remains philosophical: "When you get divorced, sometimes you need to offload a few things," he was reported as saying. "Some people have to sell their house or their cars. For me, it had to be the collection. I owe millions, but this will go a long way to help pay it off." Indeed. Perhaps it is time for me to dig out my old corgi cars...

[Thanks again to my researcher-in-chief John Hirst of Jailhouselawyer's Blog for providing the link to this story.]

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Normal Service Will Be Resumed...

Apologies to any regular visitors for the lack of posting around here, but I am otherwise engaged in a new project, more of which shortly...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Podcast Interview #9: Avi Lasarow, Trimega Laboratories

I speak to Avi Lasarow of Trimega Laboratories about the drug and alcohol misuse testing that the company provides. In particular, we talk about hair drug and alcohol testing, and its use in public and private law children proceedings. Avi says that such tests have become the 'gold standard', and explains the reasons for this. The podcast can be found here.

I found the subject very interesting, and would suggest that a knowledge of these tests is essential for anyone involved in children work. My thanks to Avi for taking part.

Sweet and Sour

My thanks to Lee Rosen of Divorce Discourse for bringing my attention to this one. It seems that I was one of the few users of the internet who was not aware of the 'JK Wedding Entrance Dance' video. In case you are similarly out of touch, here it is:

All very sweet, but somewhat out of place on a (former) divorce lawyer's blog. Much more to my taste is this parody:

Monday, August 03, 2009

Why you need a good divorce lawyer

Never let it be said that divorce lawyers don't have a sense of humour. Today I received this email from Andrew Isaacs, a solicitor in Doncaster:

A man was driving home one evening and realized that it was his daughter's birthday and he hadn't bought her a present. He drove to Frenchgate and ran to a shop there and he asked the store manager "How much is that new Barbie in the window?"

The Manager replied, "Which one? We have 'Barbie goes to the Nuffield Gym & Health Club' for £19.95 ....'Barbie goes to the Law Society Ball' for £19.95 ....'Barbie goes shopping at Frenchgate' for £19.95 ....'Barbie goes to the beach' for £19.95 ....'Barbie goes to the Bistro Nightclub' for £19.95 ....and 'Divorced Barbie' for £375.00".

"Why is the Divorced Barbie £375.00, when all the others are £19.95"? Dad asked surprised.

The Manager replied "Divorced Barbie had a good divorce lawyer so she comes with Ken's car, Ken's House, Ken's boat, Ken's dog, Ken's cat and Ken's furniture."

New-look Family Lore Focus

Family Lore Focus is undergoing a major redesign. The front page now has a news feed from Family Lore News, and a cases feed from Family Lore Case Digest. Both feeds will be updated as soon as I come across news or cases, rather than just once a day. I shall also now be putting a little editorial on the page. Other new features include a professional news feed and a podcast feed, from Family Lore Podcasts.

Further new features will be announced shortly.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

July Post of the Month

I've always enjoyed Nearly Legal's occasional 'On the naughty step' posts, his very own public disciplining technique for those who cannot see the error of their ways. This month it was a story of remarkably crass behaviour that I had already come across. Horizon Group Management, a property owner/management firm from Chicago is suing one of their tenants for what they consider to be a defamatory tweet that she wrote on Twitter, notwithstanding the fact that she only had 30 Twitter followers. Their explanation was that they are "a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organisation". Yes, you read that correctly. For Nearly Legal's thoughts on this read this post, which wins my coveted July Post of the Month award. Oh, and Nearly Legal also gives his thoughts on the nonsense that is Twitter...

The prize? As one who has changed his career mid-life to go in to the law, I am tempted to say that what Nearly Legal really needs is not a prize but to undertake The Insanity Test, but I will not. Instead, I shall award him a virtual one-year supply of the alcoholic beverage of his choice - he will need it after those long days dealing with clients, courts and all the other frustrations of practising as a Solicitor of the Senior Court.

Call me a lawyer

I am told by good authority (well, Charon QC actually) that I am no longer a 'Solicitor of the Supreme Court' but am now a 'Solicitor of the Senior Court'. Now, I could never give two hoots for what I was called (although 'soliciting' always seemed appropriate) so this does not concern me at all, particularly as I am no longer practising. What does concern me is the archaic pomposity of it all. In the 21st century why can't we all just be called 'lawyers'? I realise that we have two halves to the profession (although I've never fully understood why when a single profession seems to work perfectly well in most other countries) and that there are many who insist that we simply must differentiate between barristers and solicitors, but lawyers are what we all are, whether we like it or not. So I say forget the antiquated nonsense, and call me a lawyer.