I always enjoy Graham Norton’s problem page in the Saturday Telegraph and his reply to this week’s ‘Letter of the Week’ was spot on: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/wellbeing/graham-nortons-advice/graham-norton-help-advice-divorce-marriage-wife-husband/

The writer had spent an eye-watering £300,000 and counting on legal fees and was nowhere near a settlement as his wife wanted the matrimonial home to be sold and the proceeds shared, whilst he wanted to keep it.

The lessons to be learned from this sorry tale include:

  1. Separation agreements are usually a waste of time.  In this case it would appear that the couple did not take legal advice before drawing it up and, given that they have a young child, this agreement was unlikely to stand up in court.  Maybe the couple wanted to wait two years to have a “civilised” divorce based on their separation.  But the financial side of a divorce will often take two years to resolve so it’s usually better to start with that.
  2. For two years this man paid lots of money to his wife, whist accepting psychological abuse from her.  Why would you?  These situations rarely improve with keeping, so cut and run sooner rather than later.
  3. “After a long court battle we agreed to shared custody of our son”.  The worst thing for children is their parents fighting, and it can’t get any worse than fighting over them.  As Graham Norton so aptly put it: “Sometimes when marriages break down there is nothing left but acrimony and bitterness, but among the rubble is your son.”   If this couple had been encouraged to think first about what was best for their son they might not have got into this mess and done untold damage to their child, as well as their wealth.
  4.  “You have to decide what is worth fighting for”.  Indeed Mr Norton, you do.  People rush into these acrimonious proceedings without having a plan.  What is your goal at the end of your divorce?  How much are you prepared to pay for this?  Have you had a quote for the legal fees if your ex decides to fight you all the way?  Where would you compromise?  If you must fight (rather than go to mediation which is the infinitely better option) at least go into the boxing ring with your eyes open, and with a well thought out plan.