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Britain’s Biggest Divorce Case and London retains the reputation of the Divorce Centre of the World

A Russian Billionaire’s ex-wife’s divorce award of £453m is soon to be  contested in the Court of Appeal. This follows the wife’s own appeal  on the basis  of her claim that she has  not received a penny of the award granted by the Judge at first instance in  2016.

Farkhad Akhmedov, is described as being close to the Kremlin. He is reported by the Times to have owned property and an art collection worth more than £90 million and a £350,000 Aston Martin. He has bought his children flats costing £29 million and has  £7.2million in a London development, yacht, plane and helicopter etc….. He  was ordered to pay his wife Tatiana Akhmedova  41.5 %  of his immense wealth following  a High Court hearing  in London in 2016. This was less than she believed she was entitled to. She was seeking half of his fortune.

Mr Akhmedov,  age 62,   earned his wealth  from his work  as a gas and oil tycoon.  He is described in the Times as a close friend of Roman Bramovich, owner of Chelsea football club and contact of President Putin.  His wife is in her mid 40’s.

They have two sons who have been brought up by Mrs Akhmedov . The family  have been living in London since 1993. There was no nanny on the scene neither in their £39 million Surrey mansion nor in their £27.8 million holiday home.  Mrs Akhmedov  cared for the children and was awarded her 41.5% of her husband’s wealth on the basis of her “equal contributions to the welfare of  the family” during their 20-year marriage.  The wife is represented by her lawyer, Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia.

The husband’s team of lawyers raised the argument that Mr Akhmedov made special or stellar contributions to the fortunes of the marriage. Now he has been described by his team as the victim of “manifestly unjust” favouritism towards his ex-spouse by the divorce courts.  The original court judge, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave,  is accused of being unrestrained in favouring the wife’s position.

There were some interesting twists and turns in the original proceedings leading to the judgement following various reported attempts on the part of the husband to avoid his ex wife’s claim.

It must have cost a fortune and now they are back for round 2.

There is nothing to indicate changing  the London Law Court’s reputation as   the world’s favourite jurisdiction for expensive divorce cases.  It is still described the   Divorce Centre of the world.    We shall have to see if this case changes the ranking as opposed to other jurisdictions  and whether the husband is successful in his appeal.  Perhaps they should have tried mediation to avoid publicity and obvious very high costs to continue their post marital dispute.

Mediation is still available to all potential litigants who are sensible and still able to be rational about their situation.   It is there for those who value the hard work in earning income and capital during a marriage and also the work involved in  bringing up a family and being savvy as to how the law deals with such cases, however much money and assets are in dispute.

Please contact Tricia Muzalewski ,  Law Society Accredited family mediator at

Wynn Mediation, 612 – 614 London Road, Westcliff On Sea, Essex SS0 9HW   Tel: 01702 341241. Email:   enquiries@wynnmediation.com

PMM                                                                                                                                                     February 2018

WHY GUILTY MEN GIVE AWAY MORE IN DIVORCE SETTLEMENTS

Greg Hurst, Social Affairs Editor, writing for the Times wrote

“Marry in haste, repent at leisure, the old saying goes. It turns out that the same applies to divorce.”

Many people seek quickie divorces and financial settlements to get them through the ignominious situations they find themselves in after a period of infidelity.  Many start to regret their actions and wish to try and make good with the ex wife or husband by offering ridiculously high divorce settlements  in  order to beat the revengeful  behaviour of an ex spouse who feels wronged and who wishes to punish.

I continue to be amazed by the lengths to which people will extend themselves to avoid being hung drawn and quartered by the cruel judgements dished out by some families and friends and not at least, the  ex spouse. Some may even act in terror and this may affect their sensibilities in arriving at a financial settlement.

It gets worse.  Some people even rush into new marriages and seem to forget the longer term implications with regard to children and extended family reactions. Many even seek refuge in a new marriage  which is unlikely to succeed because one is simply not at ones best when they are just leaving one marriage to go into another.  Frying pan and fire come to mind.

We seem to seek safety and refuge when times are lonely and the feeling of desperation is upon us. It becomes very important suddenly to meet someone who is prepared to listen and who is not prepared to take sides or to make judgements.

A family mediator has no reason to take sides. He or she is impartial and has no vested interest in even beginning to consider who was right or wrong in terms of circumstances surrounding a marriage breakdown or a relationship coming to an end.  People remain vulnerable following a marriage breakup or separation and need time to breathe and consider a strategy in a structured process. The mediator’s wish is to enable people who are going through these difficult experiences to engage in a process that will be objective and structured to move them out of the mire.

This is what family mediation can offer to people in a safe and neutral environment where both parties are able to start thinking again. They meet with the mediator, away from the turmoil and emotional pull surrounding the breakup.

Greg Hurst, the writer, refers to Bobby Moore who he holds up as a prime example of” how his guilt was reflected in an extremely generous settlement”.

Tiger Woods is also referred to as” having handed over a chunk of money after his serial infidelity was discovered. “That case even involved a renegotiation of a prenuptial settlement and “poor old” Tiger was left $100 million down after a 5 year marriage.

The moral of these stories is for people to ask whether they are acting out of guilt.  The article refers to a Relate senior practice consultant who states that “It’s important to think longer-term and to try not to allow the strong emotions …. To shape your decision-making, especially where there are children involved”.

As a family mediator, I do not look for peoples’ attitudes to change. All of the above is just another factor that needs to be contemplated within family mediation when working with the parties together.  The dynamic between the parties will be emotional and possibly fiery. People do reach a point however when they are ready to start their negotiations effectively.  Hopefully, they will be willing to engage within family mediation.

Please contact Tricia Muzalewski, L LB  Accredited FMC and Law Society Family Mediator at Wynn Mediation.  Tel: 01702 341241 or by email: enquiries@wynnmediation.com

 

PMM                                                                                                                                                     October 2017

 

 

 

 

HOW WOULD A FAMILY MEDIATOR DEAL WITH DR FOSTER?

I have been watching the BBC television series of “Dr Foster”. For those who have not seen this part 2 series about Dr Gemma Foster, the penultimate episode will be next Tuesday (after Holby City, another favourite of mine).

The series demonstrates in a brilliant way, human frailty and the emotional and hormonal battle that exists between couples.

These feelings are amplified when they are going through divorce and separation. Dr Foster is quite easily assimilated but it has to be regarded as a terrible example of parenting on the part of otherwise bright and intelligent people engulfed in a miserable contest surrounding hate, love and total emotional  let down from their own marriage break up.

In the TV series  of Dr Foster,  she states she loathes her ex husband, Simon. Simon has remarried and has a child. He has also expressed his hatred for his ex wife, Gemma Foster. Neither trust one another a jot.

Both characters continue to lust after one another in a sinister and evil way. They have clearly enjoyed a good sexual relationship and both appear, strongly, to have missed that aspect.

The powerful effects of hate are seemingly so close to those akin to  love. It is a fine line that we tread.  Most people can relate to these feelings which can be so evident during those youthful years.  However, the area that the series Dr Foster  has focused on recently is the terribly difficult relationship that Gemma and Simon’s 14 year old son, Tom  does not enjoy  with his parents.

It must be a psychologist’s dream to concentrate on a case like the Fosters in terms of  managing  an extended  family like their’s. Even the good old neighbours got involved. They have had their own problems but now they have separated having been used by Gemma Foster and Simon Foster to get back at each other.  Not nice stuff but popular for Tuesday night drama.

Dr Foster herself has alongside being a paranoid ex wife, doctor and, briefly, the part of matron of honour to one of her closest colleagues at her wedding, declares her undying love and steadfast role towards her son, Tom.

In the meantime, however, Tom has been suspended from school at a critical time in his school calendar because he has vented his anger on his best “mate” and girlfriend who he has lied about to both parents.  Pictures have been taken of him beating up his friend Jake because he was drunk and angry with his parents’ messy pranks being played on each other and seemingly forgetting that he was in the house also at the time.

He has resorted to lying to both parents and is learning fast the skills necessary to start to manipulate both parents. He is full of hatred for them both but is currently siding with mother. Poor Tom.

Let us hope that things get better for Tom.

This is of course a family mediator’s stance because, effectively, a mediator represents the wishes of a child and may even take the form of the voice of a child within mediation in order to enable parents to reflect on their own joint conduct and responsibilities.

I meet a large number of parents who would do almost anything to protect their children and to give them security and a plan for a happy life.  The trouble is that when there is separation the already suffocated and protected child becomes even more “dumbed down”.

We are aware that the voice of the child is crucial when sorting out their arrangements where there is a separation or marriage breakdown.  This is sensitive work and must be handled with great care.

This new generation do not need to be like Tom.   He must be in a terrible place and this must not be followed elsewhere, especially where the parents remain able to relate to Simon and Gemma  and  of their genuine hopes to support Tom in the future.

I have not seen the first series of Dr Foster but I am gripped and somewhat shocked.  What next?

I doubt that Dr Foster will have a happy ending.  However, it is certainly stimulating stuff for a family mediator who works with separating parents regarding future child arrangements and property and financial issues.

 

Please contact Tricia Muzalewski, FMCA and Law Society Accredited Family Mediator at  Wynn Mediation, 641B London Road, Westcliff On Sea, Essex SS0 9HW.

Contact by email:  enquiries@wynnmediation.com;  telephone: 01702 341241

Website: www.wynnmediation.com                                                                      September 2017

WHAT IS A WILL AND HOW IS IT RELEVANT TO FAMILY MEDIATION?

The formal definition of a will has been provided by the Law Commission within the context of proposed will making reforms.

The current definition of a will and that is recognised by most people is “an expression by a person of his or her wishes intended to take effect only at death”.

Additional guidance to give effect to the defining features of a will are:

(1) It is subject to change or revocation. This means that the testator – the person making a will – has the opportunity to change his or her mind; the consequences of the document are not set in stone as soon as it is executed.

(2) The dispositions of property (and/or other instructions) in the will take effect upon the testator’s death.

(3) The testator must have intended the dispositions to be revocable and to take effect on his or her death

HOW MEDIATION CAN HELP TO OFFER PEACE OF MIND TO PEOPLE PLANNING FOR THEIR FUTURE FOLLOWING DIVORCE/SEPARATION PEOPLE NEED KNOW HOW TO EXERCISE THEIR TESTAMENTARY FREEDOM

Only 40% of us make wills which means that many fall foul of the “Intestacy Rules”.

These rules specify what should happen to a person’s property either where there is no will or where a will does not completely dispose of a person’s property. What the rules specify will depend on a person’s circumstances at the time of death, for example whether he or she was married, what other relatives he or she had and the value of his or her estate.

Planning should happen at any age and since an existing will becomes void on divorce, this is an important time to consider future provision.

For example, the Intestacy Rules do not take into account a person’s cohabitant. This is obviously a serious issue for the many people in England and Wales who live together without being married or in a civil partnership.

Likewise, the Intestacy Rules may not give the result that would be wanted by some people who have remarried and have children from the first marriage. Many people also wish to leave a gift to charity in their will and the intestacy rules do not make provision for this.

Family mediation is available to people who may be in dispute regarding their wishes and it offers a process for people to access at any stage of their lives to discuss fresh arrangements not only for the immediate future but also to deal with their Testamentary Wishes.

We hear terminology relating to will writing that we have lived with for a long time; in fact since The Wills Act 1837.   People need to be aware of the proposed changes and of options that keep pace with the 21st Century to give more control to meeting future needs of those you wish to support.

It is vital that within the traditional remit of the work of a family mediator that wills are referred to when facilitating negotiations for a financial settlement either on divorce or where a couple have decided to separate.

Many people separate and divorce later in life. There is an urgent need to protect families and so that the wishes and needs of both parties can be discussed. The emotional hazards of such discussions will need the help of an impartial mediator who is trained to understand and to enable the parties to reach a negotiated and informed settlement that takes into account both parties wishes and needs.

Please contact Tricia Muzalewski who is an Accredited Family Mediator with the Law Society and the Family Mediation Council.

Wynn Mediation   www.wynnmediation.com ; Tel: 01702 341241;

Email: enquiries@wynnmediation.com

 

 

 

PMM/August 2017

Government is silent on Online Divorce Timetable and No Fault Divorce

On 4 January 2017 – The Law Society Gazette published an article regarding progress of plans to manage divorces online and of a pilot to allow divorce proceedings to be issued digitally.

However, Government plans for managing divorces online may not happen as quickly as expected.

A Ministry of Justice consultation paper stated that work had already begun to allow applications to be made and managed online; the aim being to remove ‘some of the bureaucracy from often stressful and lengthy proceedings and simplifying cumbersome administrative processes’.

The process for online divorce will need to be looked at carefully. Present procedure problems have to be tackled to ensure the new service is compliant and accessible for users to access the on-line service.

Excitement and expectation is growing within the family law community for a modernisation programme. This will occur with patience and a step by step approach, to move towards the first digital divorce petition.

Other proposed reforms include further plans for ‘no fault’ divorces. This is a slow moving area and that has been looked at previously. For now, the law remains unchanged. Where a couple has been separated for less than two years, one party must cite fault with the other party in order to invoke divorce proceedings.

Last month family group, Resolution, held a ‘lobby day of action’, whereby 150 family law solicitors held meetings with MPs to discuss the need for a change to allow no-fault divorces.

A solicitor and a Resolution member told the Gazette that she had seen clients come into her office shocked that they had to apportion blame if they wanted to start divorce proceedings within two years of separating.

Another Resolution solicitor advocates a move away from ‘a system of divorce based on fault and which encourages acrimony from the outset and an over-complication of the whole process.’ She wants to see the opportunity for more people to represent themselves in a process that may seem more straightforward.

Supporters of a no-fault divorce believe it would help to reduce conflict and allow couples to maintain their dignity. Furthermore, it enables couples to do everything amicably and to keep conflict out for the benefit of the children.

From my perspective as a family mediator and also a family solicitor, I offer mediation with the aim of helping people to move forwards without conflict. This does not mean that conflict does not exist.  The process has to be carefully and expertly managed.

‘There have been attempts to change the law through a private member’s bill but the government has resisted, fearing criticisms that it would make divorce too easy.’

‘In 1996, the Family Law Act made provision for no-fault divorce in England and Wales. It was scrapped in the face of opposition’. What has changed since then?

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court, supported reform 2 years ago. According to a recent Times article, he said that no-fault divorces would “bring some intellectual honesty to the system”.

However the Christian Institute spokesman at the time said that attempts to change the law would “further weaken the institution of marriage – the most stable form of relationship for raising children”.

I have been mediating in family cases for 19 years and will continue regardless of changes in the law.  People remain confused and upset by the breakdown of a marriage or of their family unit. Emotions will always run high in these circumstances and it is the role of a family mediator to help both parties in a fair and impartial setting.

If you are interested in family mediation, please contact Tricia Muzalewski, FMCA, accredited family mediator and Professional Practice Consultant at affordable prices.

Our contact details are Tricia Muzalewski, Wynn Mediation 01702 341241 or enquiries@wynnmediation.com

PM/Wynn Mediation                                                                                                January 2017