Following Matt Hancock’s resignation, Ben Stowe talks with Naga Munchetty on BBC 5 Live about the pressures on political marriages.

Ben Stowe joined Naga Munchetty this morning to discuss the numerous press articles over the weekend focussing on political marriages and how rarely they thrive. The Telegraph’s Isobel Hardman claims she has never met anyone who said that being an MP improved their relationship and Sarah Vine, a journalist married to MP Michael Gove, identifies being treated as “feudal barons” and a culture of no one ever saying no to them making it difficult for anything to compete with the “adrenaline of power”.

Naga asked Ben to call on his expertise in acting for politicians to give his views on how much pressure there is on a relationship if you are married as an MP. Ben acknowledged the strains and pressures but countered that this “power grab” is not unique to MPs but can apply to a whole range of professional people with demanding jobs. However, Ben did agree with Naga’s question on the public scrutiny MPs have to face, appreciating that the level of scrutiny for MPs is different from most other professionals. Matt Hancock will not be the only person to have “a snog in the office”, he said, but unlike most couples, he and his wife do not have the opportunity to deal with the situation in private. MPs simply do not have that luxury.

You can listen to the full interview here – scroll to 10.52

Ending the Blame Game

It is almost a year since legislation was passed to enable couples seeking a no-fault divorce.  This followed years of campaigning from lawyers calling for reform. Cara Lahnstein comments on the recent much-awaited Government announcement.

No-fault divorce is now set to become reality. Yesterday the government committed to the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 on 6 April 2022. This reform has been long awaited and will be the biggest change to divorce law in our lifetime. Separating couples will no longer need to assign blame in the divorce process.

Originally, the Act received royal assent on 25 June 2020 with plans to implement in autumn 2021. Understandably delayed because of the pandemic, 6 April 2022 is now fixed as a matter of Parliamentary record, rather than the indicative timetable previously being worked toward.

The new law will replace the need for evidence of conduct, such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour, or proof of separation, and instead will only require divorcing couples to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown. It will also do away with the possibility of contested divorce applications, as the statement will act as decisive evidence that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Human nature can dictate that if someone has been wronged, there should be a consequence for the other party. However, courts and lawyers try to be more forward thinking and recognise that wishing to blame your partner creates an unnecessary disruption for many couples during the divorce. The focus should be on reaching a resolution as quickly and painlessly as possible.

We may still have a long way to go in terms of legal reform to accurately reflect the needs of today’s more complex “family” and relationship structures. However, finally stamping out the archaic concept of “fault” and the negativity associated with the need for one spouse to bear the full brunt of the blame for the relationship breakdown, must enable a healthier, kinder and more constructive start for a couple embarking on separate futures. We can expect the change to particularly benefit children, so often caught in the crossfire of their parents’ emotional power struggle.  It is hoped that the no-fault culture will encourage a more civilised and calmer environment in which to discuss co-parenting and a fair provision for future family life.

We see first-hand the emotional cost of divorce proceedings when conducted in a spiteful and unnecessarily acrimonious manner. It is not anticipated that this change in the law will encourage more people to divorce but it is hoped that it will enable divorcing couples to focus on the practical consequences of their separation, particularly when there are children, without getting caught up in the “blame game”.

This reform will help couples shift their attention away from why the breakdown occurred with a focus instead on what is needed, by them both, to move forward with their lives as positively as possible.

We at LMP wholly support this new legislation.

An LMP refresh – with brand, website and structure revamp

June 2021 marks the firm’s 23rd anniversary and the partners are celebrating with the conversion of the practice from a traditional partnership to an LLP with the greater flexibility that status allows in the management of the business. This new LLP structure is complemented by both a refresh of the LMP brand and a new website, making the most of today’s digital landscape.

“This is not so much a change of identity but a subtle evolution, visually confirming that Jeremy, Alison and I will continue to lead LMP with a steady eye to the future but with our feet firmly rooted in the values established back in 1998” assures Simon.

“Whilst engaging with the brand development process, it was empowering to focus on who we are now – not just the aims and ambitions we had for the business 23 years ago,” adds Jeremy. “I am particularly happy with our new strapline of ‘Excellence, empathy and strength in divorce and family law’. It recognises that LMP remains a leader in the field of family law but also captures the ethos of the firm and the values of our hardworking team of lawyers.”

“The ‘LMP because …’ device allows us to recognise and celebrate the different strands comprising the practices and approaches of the LMP partners,” remarks Alison. “This individualism has always been core to what makes LMP a boutique and niche family practice. We are all different but nonetheless connected by common values and a commitment to always acting in our clients’ best interests.

“Since the founding of the firm in 1998, Simon and I , and Alison who joined us shortly afterwards, have established a formidable team of the very best lawyers currently practising,” agrees Jeremy. “Although still boutique in terms of size, we now have the perfect spread amongst the partners of skills, personalities and experience. The energy and drive from our newest partners, Kate and Ben, brings with it the promise of an exciting future for the firm, that is balanced against the steadfastness and worldly experience of us senior partners.  Alison is at the centre encouraging a collegiate outlook and encouraging the best from every member of the team.”

We look forward to returning to our offices on Ludgate Hill later this month and to meeting with friends old and new.

From all the team at LMP: “See you soon!”