Monday, October 12, 2009

In the news...

Some snippets picked up in the news this morning that I thought were worthy of comment:

Anne Tanner (left) posted a piece in the Guardian's Comment Is Free column which asks why absent fathers find it so difficult to gain contact with their children, and what can be done to improve the situation. The article, of course, starts from the premise that: "When parents split, children are all too often separated from their fathers". I'm not sure what she means by "all too often", but I do wonder whether this problem is exaggerated. OK, one child being denied a relationship with their father is one too many, but the vast majority of fathers do retain contact with their children, and many of those who don't choose not to. Leaving that aside, what does Tanner suggest we do about the problem? Two things: more mediation and make the courts more accountable. These things seem to be rolled off like some panacean mantra, but the fact of the matter is that mediation is already available, and opening up the courts suggests that there is either some anti-father conspiracy in the family justice system, or that somehow those working in it will try harder if they are more accountable. Where I do agree with Tanner though, is that the adversarial system exacerbates conflict - as I have said before, an inquisitorial system would surely be better suited to deal with these issues, although to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure how this would work in practice.

Meanwhile, in the Telegraph Boris Johnson has his own unique slant on the news that Mrs Young has secured litigation funding, as I reported in my last post, and the concerns that this may add to London's reputation as 'the divorce capital of the world'. "I am inclined to see this Divorce Fund initiative as the latest evidence of the resilience of the London economy", he says, "Just as the financial services industry is reeling, they come up with a new and inventive offering. Rich wives and toyboys across the world can see the prudence of pestering their spouses to maintain an address in London – just in case it all goes wrong. London lawyers hit pay dirt. London hotels are full of witnesses and the UK media have the joy of reporting the case in a circulation-boosting way." OK, all a bit cynical, but Johnson does make one good point, and I was going to mention it in my post yesterday: this may be a new way for those with substantial family assets ("the folk who winter in Verbier and summer in Palm Beach", as Johnson puts it) to fund their litigation, but it will be of no interest whatsoever to the vast majority of those who use our divorce courts to argue over more modest assets.

Lastly (and I do like to end on a lighter note), I read on Reuters that a Malaysian state, concerned about its soaring divorce rate, is offering "free honeymoons worth up to $440 each to rekindle the romance between married couples on the brink of divorce". Now, I'm not sure what the Family Bar Association of Malaysia has to say about that...

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