Marriage and Divorce
Once upon a time, a man met a woman, and after some months, they decided that they couldn’t live apart, so they decided to get married and live happily ever after.
Wedding Day Arrives
The happy couple are there swearing undying love for one another and how they are going to be so happy, and signing the all important Marriage Certificate, a contract to look after one another through thick and thin for the rest of their lives, as it is after all a legal contract.
Unfortunately, they did not carry out the necessary research, as provided by the Office for National Statistics . Because if they had, would they now have considered marriage in the first place? Over 42% of marriages will end in divorce (over 118,140), and of those divorces, 65% were granted to women (76490). Most divorces (71 %), were for first marriages. Other sources say as much as 57% of marriages end in divorce, and the effects can be absolutely disastrous for all innocent parties.
NB. These figures are from 2012, 3 years old, and other sources claim higher percentages of applications from women citing abuse as the reason for being an applicant for a divorce, or separation from a partner which is not registered as an official divorce, as they were not married.
To obtain a divorce, a husband or wife must prove one or more of five facts: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, and separation with or without the consent of the respondent. The most difficult fact to prove is unreasonable behaviour, yet will be the most commonly used falsely, because generally this goes on behind closed doors, if indeed it happens, and as frequently advertised in many areas, only women can be the victims of abuse. This is borne out in the Serious Crime Act 2015, where there is no specific mention of abuse against men, despite the fact that we do have an Equality Act 2010, where the needs of abused men and children should be supported by our statutory authorities. Visit many women support group websites and forums and you would believe that it is only for women, not even for children, let alone men.
Fast forward to the divorce and its consequences ...
One day, you come home, and no wife and kids. She has taken the kids and left you a note to contact her on her mobile, she says she wants to think about your relationship, as she is unhappy with how things are. Two or three days later a letter drops on the mat, and it is from Solicitors acting for your wife saying that she has applied for a divorce, because you are abusive and shouted at her in front of the kids.
Shock Horror ... What is happening?
Yes, you have had your moments, and she, in fact, was the one who was becoming controlling about your movements and your time with your friends. You had asked her to not use the Credit Card as you were having difficulties in the repayments, she was rejecting any normal observations on how the two of you were living. She had mood swings and would lash out uncontrollably, physically or mentally, for no apparent reason. You were wondering if she was a little depressed after the kids were born. You tried to placate her, give her time to herself, and you felt that, with time, she would be the partner she had promised, and you had hoped to spend your life with, and you gave her ‘space’. Little did you know, that months before, she had been visiting solicitors, she was already planning a divorce, and knew that she could leave, tell all sorts of stories, and all would believe her. Maybe at one time, she had gone and reported you to Social Services or the Police, and never told you. All the ducks were now in a row, and she had it all planned.
You now find that, cruelly, you are having to defend yourself of her allegations, and not only that, you are up against a System that says you are guilty, and the chances of you being able to convince a Judge that you are not the person she says you are, are very slight. You deny her abuse allegations and try to explain to a solicitor in your defence what truly happened, but because it happened behind closed doors, she is believed and you are disbelieved. You accept that between you there had been moments, but those issues had been talked about and resolved. WRONG!!
You know that you have been a good father, but a Cafcass officer is appointed who comes to chat with you, maybe even telephone you at work to talk, and she then prepares a report on how you are as a father for the children, as she sees it. As far as you know, you are a good father and care for your children, you engage with them, you bathe them, you feed them, take them to the park, go to the Parent Evenings and are interested in their social and emotional development. WRONG!!
The Report to the Judge says that you have issues, and you shouted at the kids or the mother in front of them. You ask, Prove it, the answer comes back, ’Your Wife says so’. You know that you haven’t, but the Cafcass Officer is believed, and she must be right because she is an ‘Expert’, and she says so. She recommends that you go to ‘anger management’ courses, you protest and say that it was your wife who initiated all ill feeling in the home and that she should go to awareness classes. Be careful, because you will now be considered antagonistic because you dared to disagree with an ‘Expert’. You do the right thing and go to the ‘anger management’ courses believing that when the issue of contact with the children is going to be dealt with that you will get to see them, as they are your kids, as much as your wife may see them. After all, it is only fair and equitable, and you are the biological father. BUT ... Oh NO!!
As a father, you have no rights to be involved with the kids, except what the Judge orders, and he can be largely influenced by the Cafcass Officer, and after all, as the ‘Expert’, she knows best. You may end up with Shared Parenting, which simply means that you get every second weekend and another day during the other week. You will be advised that you should be consulted on matters of Health, Education and Religion, no mention of social and moral standards or the ability to be a good citizen. But your ex will break contact instructions, and there are few instances of punitive action being taken against a wife, and this can take months as it has to go back to court. WHY?, You Say
Because the Expert has read a few books, got some letters behind her name, and has never forensically explored who was the ‘real problem in the marriage’. She is probably devoid of the concept of exercising Due Diligence in her assessment of the facts, and in a few hours she has helped to destroy all what you had set out to be when you first got married, and quite probably, she is instrumental in ruining the lives of any children involved. You are not allowed to bring witnesses into a Family Court, and they are held in secret with the all encompassing ‘cop out’ statement that it is for the best interests of any children involved. So unsubstantiated lies can be told by your ex, and you know they are lies, and so do your family and friends, But who cares! DOES IT END THERE?!
NO! Because now she has spent all your money, (really this was income for the benefit of all family, and that includes you), she then demands the house and alimony, plus, naturally, child support maintenance. She has probably run up large Credit Card bills, and as she does not work, you have to pay them off. She might claim a high standard of living, but that is because she has hidden the cost of this from you, and suddenly you are facing ruin, maybe even bankruptcy. She has cruelly abused you, and you did not know, you may have been a victim of the Stockholm Syndrome. Where are you going to live?, you ask, believing the State to be reasonable, but with a polite shrug, you are dismissed to come up with your own answer. You could now be homeless, and all because of the unsubstantiated lies of the woman that you had made the mistake in marrying. DOES ANYONE CARE?! NOT REALLY!
Your ex now proceeds to alienate your children against you, and you may never see them again!! You have been the Turkey being prepared for Christmas!!
How did this state of affairs develop? Where did you go wrong to be in such a Hell?
How can you Protect Yourself
There is an old Latin phrase of 'Caveat Emptor' ... Let the buyer beware!!
You should have carried out a Due Diligence before getting married or entering into a long term relationship, particularly where children are a result. Once they come, you are just a sperm donor and an ATM machine for your ex. If your name is not on the birth certificate, you definitely have no rights, but you will still have to pay child maintenance.
Pre Marriage Due Diligence
At the first thoughts of the fact that marriage may be on the horizon, you should both carry out a Due Diligence check list, and be brutally honest. At least 6 months before any planned wedding, and before you feel committed with any arrangements.
The use of a Due Diligence Check List shows that you are both serious, and will help to check that no ‘skeletons come out of the closet’ after that Legal Document has been signed. Signing a Legal Document can have far reaching consequences, and more time is spent reviewing the purchase of a house, and the implications, than some people spend in understanding why they seek to live with another for the rest of their lives.
Both of you should be aware of each other’s expectations, and have to be totally honest with one another that this is what you both want to do. Sit in a quiet room, complete the forms, transfer to each other on completion, discuss them, and then sign and seal them. These are private documents and should not be shared with anyone else. You could then lodge them with a solicitor. Unfortunately, you may need to rely upon them, in the now slimmer possibility, that you may divorce. The deeper the examination of where you have been, where you are, and where you want to go, the better the chances are that the marriage will survive. This activity should be a process for people who are serious and have considered why they want to be together, for their common good, and for the joy that they will bring to one another, and possibly even children.