Monday, May 03, 2010

Anatomy of a Divorce – Part 3: An Admission

David Charles had been doing divorce work long enough for certain regularly occurring situations to be somewhat wearisome. Persuading a client that an admission of adultery would not affect the financial/property settlement was one of them.

“I can assure you, Mr Jones, that it will make no difference whatsoever to what happens on the financial/property settlement.” He said, for the third time.

Brian Jones remained unconvinced. “What about Shirley?” He asked. “Does she have to be dragged into this?”

“No, she doesn’t have to be named.”

“But Liz knows who she is. I’m sure she’ll want to drag her in. What if she names her anyway?”

“She won’t, because you can admit adultery on the specific proviso that no other person be named.”

Brian considered this. “I still don’t think it’s right that I admit adultery.” He said. “The marriage had already broken down when Shirley and I started seeing each other.”

“It doesn’t matter. It’s still adultery, even after you and your wife separated.”

“Do I have any alternative?”

“Yes, you do. You don’t have to admit adultery, in which case your wife will proceed on the basis of your unreasonable behaviour, and you may not like what she says. You could even take the divorce proceedings yourself, although if you did, your wife may choose to defend. Rather than possibly making things more complicated, I suggest you consider letting the divorce proceed on the basis of your adultery, and concentrate on more important things, like your contact with the children.”

Brian was not entirely happy with this advice, although he could see the sense in what he was being told. Certainly, seeing the kids was his top priority. But wasn’t there a problem?

“Surely, if I admit adultery, that could affect my contact with the kids?” He asked.

“Not at all. An admission of adultery alone will have no bearing at all upon how much contact you have with your children.”

This reassured Brian a little. “OK,” he said. “What about me seeing them?”

“Well, from what you’ve told me, I can see no reason why you should not be having regular contact with them.” Said David.

This is more like it, thought Brian. “What are we going to do about it?” He asked.

“First, we’re going to try to agree arrangements with your wife, and if that fails, you’ll have to apply to the court for a contact order.”

“She’ll never agree to anything. Why don’t we just go straight to court?”

“She may not agree, but the court will expect us to have at least tried.”

Brian was not happy with this. “Look,” he said, “she’s not going to agree to what I want. The quicker we go to court, the quicker I get to see my kids.”

“She may not agree to everything you want, but her solicitor is going to tell her that the court will expect the children to be having contact with their father. Chances are she’ll offer some contact. If you’re not happy with the amount, you can still go to court, but getting a contact order can take a very long time. At least this way you’ll be seeing the children while you’re waiting for the court to sort things out.”

Brian still looked dubious.

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