Thank you for all your entries into the Summer Competition 2012. I wanted to know what advice you would give to a fictional family, which had been seemingly torn apart by adultery, deceit and the father’s demand for a DNA test. Should the mother leave the family home? If the couple divorced, what was an appropriate financial settlement for both of them? And what next for their daughter?
I judged the entries alongside Stephen Hopwood, the head of Stowe Family Law’s Children Department – and the result was close.
However there are two overall Winners.
The first is Kathryn Evans, whose lengthy entry included several good points. Kathryn suggested that the competition’s fictional couple should wait until the dust had settled before considering their next steps.
As Stephen explains:
Kathryn went on to identify another important point: the limit to which a family lawyer can help! When discussing the paternity issue, she recommended seeking specialist advice from a therapist or psychologist rather than just blundering in, and we agreed.
Kathryn gave detailed and sensible consideration of the family’s finances, while recognising the reality of the emotional situation. She reflected, quite correctly, that it is not just down to the cold figures on the page when there is so much hurt and upset. Her technical answer was balanced with the acknowledgment that the parties’ conduct was going to be of critical importance. Kathryn’s entry stood out not just because it was detailed, but also because it was rooted in reality.
The second winner is Mark Whittaker.
As Stephen explains:
Noting that Mark is not a lawyer, we thought he gave a sensible and very reasoned response. A pragmatist, he recognised that although the marriage could be over, the time for sensible discussion was not.
Mark also identified a very important issue: that Peter appeared to have been distancing himself from the relationship for some time. He spotted that Peter and Peter’s parents had not dealt with Suzie on an equal basis throughout: with the money from Peter’s parents having been “loaned” on a mortgage which would only be recalled if the marriage failed, would Peter’s parents really expect their son to repay the sum? Even if Peter did repay the money, it would go back into Peter’s likely inheritance “pot”.
Mark’s interpretation of the scenario was indicative of a likely, combative approach to be taken through lawyers, and we agreed with him that even if reconciliation was not possible, conciliation should not be ruled out.
Congratulations Kathryn and Mark! We will be in touch to arrange the dispatch of your prize champagne and chocolates.
Thank you again to everyone who entered.