Thursday, February 02, 2006

Dealing with divorce lawyers

Keeping your lawyer on a leash
One of the most important things I’ve learned about divorce in England is that nothing is as simple as it seems. You’d think that a reasonably amicable divorce where there’s no dispute over access to the kids or major arguments about the financial settlement would be a straightforward thing to get out of the way. This is, however, complete bollocks. It’s as straightforward as reverse parking a car made of jelly in a blindfold. The legal system seems to be designed to be as impenetrable to the layman as possible. This is why you end up using a lawyer. Here’s my advice on managing these strange creatures, learned through bitter experience…

1. Don’t use a lawyer

If you can possibly come to a mutual agreement over finance or kids, do so. You can sign a financial settlement and have it witnessed by a solicitor. This isn’t legally binding in the same way as a court order, but maybe you should trust each other a little? Taking a leap of faith is better than spending thousands of pounds on legal fees.

2. Micromanage your lawyer
Never, ever, assume that anything you tell your lawyer will be remembered. Never assume that the documents they produce are accurate in any way. Read and reread anything they produce to send to the opposition lawyer. The financial agreement that my lawyer drafted, for instance, had mistake all the way through it.

3. Always assume they’ll cost more than they estimate
When they quote you a figure at the beginning of the process, always budget for double.

4. Know the system yourself
Don’t treat your lawyer like the wise law wizard who will guide through the hazy labyrinth of the divorce process. They are fuckwits. Understand what’s happening for yourself. ‘The Which? guide to divorce’ is good for pointers.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg – but I’ll start ranting if I carry on. Feel free to email me if you need any more advice…

The day’s reading
Territory – Mood of Gothic’ has some mad illustrations by some very strange people. I like the gothic sensibility a lot - possibly due to growing up in the eighties and having a sneaking admiration of Andrew Eldrich.

Scootering near-death incident of the day
I ride into work every day on my old Vespa ET4 (correctly described by a scooterist friend of mine as a ‘granny bike’). It’s amazing how you end up taking it for granted that someone will nearly kill you every day. Today the attempted murder was committed by a guy pulling out of a junction without looking on Dalston Kingsland. He was driving a battered silver Nissan Bluebird. Dalston is to motorcyclists what downtown Baghdad is to American servicemen. Random death could await at any moment. And all the locals hate you.

Game of the moment
The appallingly named ‘Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade’ on the PSP. It’s a hack and slash RPG in exactly the same mould as Diablo. You go into dungeons, kill things, collect loot and get stronger. I always play as a knight in these games – primarily because subtlety is not my strong suit.

On the iPod
‘The Brave and the Bold’ by Tortoise and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. I find this covers album quite compelling, but can’t explain why. Perhaps it’s because Billy seems to be genuinely bonkers (see the photo for proof). Perhaps it’s the frailty of his voice and the raw industrial backing. I particularly like the haunting version of Elton John’s ‘Daniel’.


florencefosterjenkins said...

Never mind motorcyclists, Dalston is to humans in general what what downtown Baghdad is to American servicemen. Even the sales assistants in Oxfam are evil. Oh, nice blog mate, as your (ex) boss would say.

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