Jeremy Levison was one of four Family Law experts involved in a one hour film produced by Century Films, which followed two ex-wives who went into battle with their exes, spending millions of pounds and years of their lives in the process. Are these women out to fleece their men for every penny they can get, as the press often suggests? Or are they simply pursuing what they are entitled to? When your husband is a multi-millionaire, life can be something of a fairytale – there will be Ferraris and Bentleys in the driveway, a yacht in Monaco and summers in St Tropez. But when it all comes crashing down, it seems the bigger the money, the bigger the fight. The programme stepped inside the world of high-profile divorce cases where millions of pounds are at stake – and London is the battleground.
LMP’s Benjamin Stowe joined Geoff Lloyd, stepping in for Stephen Nolan, on BBC 5 Live on Saturday night, along with broadcaster and divorcee Rachel Royce and “Divorce Coach” Sarah Davison to discuss Divorce ‘D’ Day and the prospect of Family Solicitors coming in to work Monday morning to “phones in meltdown”.
There is a lot of media focus on whether there is indeed a huge rush of divorce applications following the festive period and so Ben started off the discussion with a touch of reality, confirming “Yes, it’s a busy period but, to be honest, it is always a busy time”. Ben continued to stress that the relationship breakdown process is complicated and so “to drill down to a divorce ‘D’ Day does not do it justice.” Whilst conceding that spending time together over Christmas can “focus the mind” for already unhappy couples, Ben added light-heartedly that an overcooked turkey being the final straw was highly unlikely.
LBC’s Friday afternoon phone-in with Eddie Mair was all about divorce. The debate centred on the fact that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and his wife MacKenzie have agreed a record-breaking divorce settlement and have maintained that they wish to remain friends. The question for listeners – Are they alone or can you have a happy divorce?
LMP’s Ben Stowe helped get the discussion going by confirming that an amicable divorce is indeed possible to achieve; it’s just that you don’t hear so much about the couples that approach divorce constructively, deciding amongst themselves how to split assets and provide for children, and in many cases, only look to lawyers to formalise these agreements. You read in the media about the flipside to an amicable divorce; when there is no consensus of approach and the only resolution is to litigate.
Eddie probed for more information. Was there any one factor that made a break-up more likely to be amicable? Divorce specialist Ben was quick to reply that “every marriage is different” and so there were no simple guidelines.
Before handing over to callers to share their personal experiences, Ben was able to congratulate Jeff Bezos, and MacKenzie, for being a role model for an amical divorce and putting their four children first. They will always have a relationship because of their children and so an amical divorce is so much healthier for the future of the family.
This is not the first time that Ben has explored divorce in relation to the Bezos divorce. In January he wrote about the ‘stellar contribution’ argument and why a billionaire like Jeff Bezos could save a fortune if divorcing in England. Read the article here.
Regular readers of The Telegraph can enjoy the comic satire of all things “city” through the eyes of Alex, the daily cartoon strip. Sharp-eyed observers, however, may have noticed, in recent issues, the introduction of the exploitative and cynical caricature of Clive’s divorce lawyer and his firm PML Family Solicitors and remarked what a striking similarity (visually only!) that this new character has to LMP’s own founding partner, Jeremy Levison.
Jeremy has indeed been the legal inspiration behind this latest irreverent creation and the LMP partner got to spend a very pleasant afternoon with creators Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor to go through divorce-themed storylines. You’ve got to laugh!
We are delighted to be one of five firms to be shortlisted for the Family Law Firm of the Year: London Award in this year’s Family Law Awards.
The Family Law Awards were launched by legal publisher Lexis Nexis to recognise the important work of family lawyers, and celebrate their many successes and outstanding achievements.
The shortlists were chosen by a judging panel made up of representatives of the Family Law Bar Association, Resolution, the Association of Lawyers for Children, and CILEx along with Family Law editors and publishing executives.
The winners of these awards will be announced at a ceremony on 27 November 2019.
The partners of Levison Meltzer Pigott are delighted to support the Donmar Warehouse.
The Donmar Warehouse is a 251-seat, not-for-profit, theatre in Covent Garden, led by Artistic Director Michael Longhurst and Executive Director Henny Finch. It has won more than 100 awards in its 27-year history. The Donmar’s intimate auditorium offers audiences a unique shared experience, and an unparalleled connection with performers. Its ethos centres on the belief that representation matters; diversity of identity, of perspective, of lived experience. It develops new artists and future audiences through its renowned training programmes and its Discover activity in schools and communities.
The Donmar is a registered charity and partnerships like this are integral in ensuring the theatre continues to thrive and is able to produce thought-provoking theatre and open the Donmar to as wide an audience as possible
This is the firm’s second major arts sponsorship. LMP supported Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre through corporate membership from July 2014 to January 2020.
Taking place from 18 – 22 January 2021, the team at Levison Meltzer Pigott is proud to support Family Mediation Week by raising awareness about mediation. The campaign, organised by The Family Mediation Council (FMC), advocates the use of mediation as means to “help separating families manage their issues collaboratively and productively.”
As a specialist family law practice, Levison Meltzer Pigott endorses all alternative means of dispute resolution and recognises that, whilst in some cases a Court-based approach is unavoidable, it should always be seen as a last resort.
As a voluntary form of alternative dispute resolution, mediation allows couples to discuss a wide range of family issues together with an independent and neutral third party. The aim of the process is to reach an agreement with the parties maintaining ownership of the outcome, rather than it being dictated to them by lawyers or a Judge.
Mediation encourages active listening and an opportunity for both parties to have their say, whether about financial matters or child arrangements. The mediator will support those conversations, and encourage discussion that facilitates a fair outcome for all. When children are involved, their welfare will always be prioritised.
Simon Pigott, Partner at LMP and long-standing mediator, speaks of the benefits of the process for the clients:
“The increasing uptake in couples seeking to mediate their differences shows how the message for many has finally come through. Mediation offers you a way out of a difficult time in your life in a way that is not charged with the tensions, cost and delay that the “see you in court” approach so often generates. In particular, during these troubled times, mediation can move matters forward even when locked down with your spouse or partner.”
If you would like more information about mediation, please contact Simon Pigott ([email protected]) or another member of the LMP team
Ben Stowe was invited by radio host Shelagh Fogarty to join her in the LBC discussion following on from Boris Johnson’s Roman Catholic nuptials in Westminster Cathedral over the weekend.
The topic was the institution of marriage and Ben commented from his viewpoint as a Family Lawyer that he felt that marriage is important, even in a modern society, but there needs to be a framework in place to manage the breakdown. Ben highlighted that we need to recognise that marriage is not necessarily lifelong and be able to deal properly with the consequences of breakdown. He emphasised how crucially important it is for people to ensure that the religious marriage and divorce runs in parallel to the civil process.
Ben concluded with a plea for the ‘forgotten’ group in society who lack the necessary legal protections that come with marriage – that of cohabiting couples
This list records the firm’s reported cases since LMP was launched in 1998, with links to the Judgments.
Dmitry Tsvetkov v Elsina Khayrova  EWFC 131 – The costs judgment:
Re Z (No.4) (Schedule 1 award)
Haley v Haley  EWCA Civ 1369
R and K  EWHC 841 (Fam)
Vasilyeva v Shemyakin  EWHC 932 (Fam)
F and H and B  EWHC 3358 (Fam)
MH v MH (Case C-173/16)  ILPr 23,503
Re: B  EWCA Civ 1302
MH v MH  IEHC 771
E v E (Re a child: L)
SB v MB (Costs)  EWHC 3721 (Fam)
AM v SS  EWHC 865 (Fam)
AM v SS  EWHC 2887 (Fam)
US v SR  EWHC 175 (Fam)
Bhura v Bhura  2 FLR 44
G v G  EWHC 167 (Fam)
Z v Z  EWHC 2878 (Fam) (No 2)
Jones v Jones  1 FLR 1723
K v B 2010 EWHC 2151 (Fam)
Z v Z (Divorce: Jurisdiction) 2010 1 FLR 694
J v J  EWHC 2654 (Fam)
CC v RC  EWHC 2033 (Fam)
Ella v Ella  2 FLR 35
K v K  EWHC 1070
P v P  1 FLR 193
DAVIES v DAVIES  1 FLR 39
BURROW v BURROW  1 FLR 508
MANCHANDA v MANCHANDA  2 FLR 590
Benjamin Stowe talked to LBC’s Andrew Castle on the 2nd March. A summary of his shared views are as follows:
“The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is a rigid, inflexible system that has not worked since its inception in 1993. When it was first introduced, there was a formula for child support removing the Courts’ jurisdiction to deal with these disputes and instead shifting the burden to the State. Problems arose because the formula was so complicated that two people would arrive at different figures. The system struggled on and on into new guises but adopting the same methodology of a formula-based approach. Over that period of time non-compliance has been rife and nearly £2.5 billion of Child Support Agency ‘legacy debt’ is owed to parents, representing approximately 970,000 individual cases. Of this, the DWP estimate as much as £1.9 billion will be written off.
The CMS should be scrapped and where parents are unable to agree on the level of child maintenance payable, the matter should be referred to the Courts to be dealt with in the same manner as spousal periodical payments. The problem with this, of course, is the Family Courts are already under funded and over-burdened following deep legal aid cuts and dozens of county court closures up and down the country. To add to the already bulging list of issues – child maintenance – as things are at present, would be too much. The issues parents are having with the CMS is an indicator of a broken Court system that needs to be fixed. The Courts need proper funding and there must be the reintroduction of legal aid in family cases to ensure that the Courts are able to deal with issues of child maintenance arrears and enforcement. The CMS is simply not qualified or capable of entering into a forensic enquiry as to the payor’s income and earnings. The loopholes in the current system are too easily used by those who are avoiding child maintenance payments. The only adequate arena to seek enforcement is the Courts.
In discussion with Andrew about the flaws and failings of the CMS, we both acknowledged that some responsibility must fall to the parents. The level of non-compliance and arrears is an unhappy reflection of parents in this country – those who are refusing the accept and acknowledge their financial responsibilities to their children.”