In the first instalment of a brand new series, Marilyn Stowe tackles the biggest news in UK family law this week. Topics include adultery in same-sex marriages, the grand finale of the epic Vince v Wyatt divorce, and Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption, unafraid to give an opinion.
We hope you enjoy the video. We welcome feedback, and if you any questions, please feel free to leave those below as well. Marilyn and the team will endeavour them to answer in upcoming episodes!
Hello, welcome to the very first video of the Marilyn Stowe blog. I will explain to you first of all where I am. I am sitting in my office from where we run the whole of the Stowe Family Law offices across the country. This particular office actually used to be a courthouse in Victorian times and it remained a courthouse until 1991. This room that I am actually sitting in, my own personal office, used to be a lawyers’ waiting room and it used to be crammed full of mostly men and, on occasions, me when I was appearing in the courtroom to my right. When the judge used to say “Take him down…” to the prisoner, there is actually a back staircase all the way down to the cells which are at the bottom of this building but now of course they are no longer cells, they are cellars.
Anyway, what is the purpose of this video? Well, lots of things. First of all, we are one of the world’s best known and best read family law blogs and we have got to move with the times. I think that doing videos is the right way to go. I want it to be useful, so if you have got a problem and you would like me to answer it in a video, please leave the question in the foot of the page and I will do my best to include it. Lots of people do actually leave questions on the blog, all over it but there are thousands of posts now so it is no longer possible for me to just answer every single one. So I think that this is one way of doing it. I appreciate that there are a lot of people who need help and I am happy to do it.
The other thing is to sort of widen out what the blog does. We are going to be looking at lots of personalities in family law. Family law has lots of big, big personalities from Supreme Court judges downwards and we are going to be taking a look. One example of a ‘Supreme’ as they might be rather irreverently called is Lord Sumption who, last week, gave a speech to family lawyers. He is a ‘hot shot’ commercial lawyer who was rocketed into the Supreme Court direct from practice. In fact, direct from acting for Roman Abramovich, that was his last case for a reputed fee of £8 million. What does he have to say to family lawyers? We will find out.
Then we will be looking at cases, big case that hit the news and there are two in the news at the moment. The massive Saudi billionaire case where the wife is only seeking £250 million to meet what she says are her needs, will she get her million pounds for Couture clothing? Will she get money for her jewellery and her art and all of the houses that she wants to have and to be kept in? Well, the judge is going to have to decide whether he really is worth billions as she claims or millions plus a trust fund as he claims. The she is going to have to decide what the budget is. They are miles and miles apart so that is one that is going to keep running.
The other case is in the Supreme Court, Vince v Wyatt settled like a bit of a damp squib. That is in the news because the wife finally walked away with £300,000. She, you may remember, is the ex-wife, she was a very short wife actually in terms of time spent. They were married for only three years in the 80’s, they never bothered to get around to divorce until the 90’s and years late, he became a tycoon. A green energy tycoon and if you have got an electric car and you go to a garage and you want the car charging, it is his company that provides that electricity. So, she has walked away with £300,000, was it all worth it? We don’t know because we don’t know what the costs were; the judge didn’t make an order for costs to be disclosed. How much did she eventually walk away with, we don’t know. There is a no order law principle in English law for costs. You fight your case and you pay your own costs and that is something that everybody has got to be mindful about.
Finally, another case that hit the papers is about adultery. Would divorce be divorce without adultery, well it depends if you are gay or straight. If you are straight, you can divorce your partner on the basis of adultery, if you are gay, you can’t because the definition of adultery in English law requires a man and a woman. The wife of the gay guy who she said had an adulterous relationship is seeking a change in the law. The Sunday Mirror contacted me and said did I agree and I said “well, I do think the law should be changed but I actually think fault should be abolished and people should be forced to look backwards when they are getting divorced, instead look forward. Find for a no fault basis as they do have in America by consent.
So, that is all for today, I will be back soon and I hope you have enjoyed this short video.