Mud-slinging unwelcome in the family court
Zara Jordan, a solicitor in our London Family Team considers the recent judgement in the case of WC v HC.
Getting divorced is widely recognised to be one of life’s most stressful events. The breakdown of one of your most significant personal relationships is understandably destabilising and when arrangements for children and financial assets are thrown into the mix – it is not difficult to see why divorce has earned this status.
Given the issues at stake, it is easy to see how matters can quickly descend into a hotbed of conflict and hostility. Where am I going to live? How am I going to support myself? Am I going to miss out on seeing my children grow up?
These are very real concerns, but it is important for heightened emotions not to spill over into the court proceedings as highlighted by the judge in the recent case of WC v HC. In his introductory remarks to his ruling Mr Justice Peel made critical comments about the wife’s statement as it contained a number of personal and prejudicial matters directed at her ex-husband, which were irrelevant and unlikely to affect the outcome of the case. The judge pleaded for parties to stop using formal court statements as an opportunity to make irrelevant personal attacks on their former spouse.
Separating business and personal
It is a common misconception that bad behaviour or moral indiscretions have any relevance or influence on the division of marital assets. The law is clear that behaviour will only be taken into account in very exceptional circumstances. Ultimately, there is little benefit – either emotionally for the parties involved or strategically for their respective cases – for proceedings to descend into a mud-slinging match.
It is much better for parties to focus their efforts on constructing a solid financial plan for the future, which is realistic for both parties.
It is important to access a range of sources of support during a divorce which you can utilise to maximum effect. Speak to family about what you’re going through. There will be things which are not appropriate for a court room but are important for you to process in order to move forward. Reach out to friends who have been through the experience. If you feel you need more structured support, therapy or counselling can also be beneficial.
How we can help
Your legal team can also make all the difference – not just in terms of the outcomes you are seeking but also in how your case is managed to reduce conflict from the outset.
The family team at RWK Goodman pride ourselves on adopting a pro-active, constructive and cost-conscious approach and, where possible, we strive to reach agreement outside of court proceedings.