Finances on Divorce – Kate Stovold writes for Vantage Point

LMP Partner, Kate Stovold, continues to write for Vantage Point, the community magazine in Farnham, Surrey, with a focus in this latest article on the financial consequences of divorce.

Kate recognises that the divorce creates much uncertainty, particularly with an eye to the unravelling of family finances. Clients are often concerned about what they might receive and what they will need to pay.

Kate says this: “Once again, I am pleased to share my expertise in my home community and hope that my article provides support to families in need. I hope that my whistle-stop tour identifies important headlines and stresses the value of specialist advice.”

To read the article in full, please follow the link here.

Should you need any advice about finances on divorce, or family matters generally, please contact Kate: [email protected]

Jeremy Levison talks to Christopher Jackson of Finito World about his office art collection

In an interview which appears on Finito World’s website this month prior to publication in the magazine, LMP founding partner Jeremy Levison talks about the importance of art to his life. From his passion for collecting art which started in the 1970s, Jeremy founded the idea of an office art gallery whilst at Collyer Bristow and how, when he established his own firm with Simon Pigott,  he has used his collection to make the offices of Levison Meltzer Pigott a very special place to work. The latter is of particular interest to Finito World’s readership in its role as an employability news channel.

Prenuptial agreements. What and why? And wherever!

LMP partner Kate Stovold talks about prenuptial agreements in her latest article for Vantage Point, a magazine circulated to families and businesses in Kate’s home town of Farnham in Surrey.

Kate debunks some of the common myths surrounding prenups and argues that far from being unromantic, the agreement represents shrewd financial planning and wealth management.

This piece is from a series of articles on family law which Kate is writing for her local community magazine and she explains why this is important to her:

“Before the national lockdown in March 2020, and like so many others, I commuted to London every day.  However, to adapt and to do so quickly was crucial for business.  LMP transitioned to remote working overnight meaning that I was no longer a ‘London family lawyer’; simply a family lawyer.  It has been a pleasure to represent clients living in and out of London (and abroad) during the pandemic.  The show must go on!

Whilst I have now returned to the office, I am operating a flexi working schedule that facilitates the best of both for me and, most importantly, my clients.  I remain active in my London network and continue to expand my professional connections in Farnham.

I see numerous advantages for my clients including:

  • That LMP is a boutique family law practice offering a “tailored top drawer service” (Legal 500).  That service is available to all regardless of geography.
  • My firm’s ongoing commitment to excellence.
  • My relationships with the best barristers and third party experts ensuring a collaborative approach to your case.
  • The convenience of being local to you, whether in London or in Surrey.  Access to the best legal advice is now a moveable feast.”

You can read Kate’s article here.

To contact Kate for advice about prenups or any family law matter: [email protected]

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

Double take – Jeremy Levison lends his expertise to BBC2’s “Millionaires’ Ex-Wives Club”

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.

Benjamin Stowe – on BBC 5 Live – Divorce ‘D’ Day debate

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.

Ben Stowe talks with LBC’s Eddie Mair who asks – can you have a happy divorce?

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.

LBC – Benjamin Stowe talks with Shelagh Fogarty about the institution of marriage following Boris Johnson’s surprise wedding

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

Benjamin Stowe on LBC Radio to discuss the role of the Child Maintenance Service and the statistic that a third of separated parents are avoiding child payments

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.”

Johnny Depp libel case – Ben Stowe on Times Radio discussing “difficult divorces”

Levison Meltzer Pigott’s Ben Stowe joined presenter Gloria de Piero on Friday on the newly launched Times Radio. Gloria’s show, billed as presenting “life stories, how to be happy, and a heated debate without the heat”, Ben joined tv presenter Beverley Turner, ex-wife of Olympic rower James Cracknell, to talk about divorce in light of the current high profile Depp and Heard litigation.

Although the case is not about a divorce but libel, discussion focused on “difficult divorces” and how divorcing couples can perhaps relate to “the bitterness and acrimony” of this feuding couple.

Beverley was the spokesperson for the amicable divorce, making clear that her experience divorcing James Cracknell did not bear any resemblance to the Depp/Heard example. She cited a “grown up” approach and “putting the children first” as the ideal whilst conceding that “going through a divorce does not bring out the best in anyone”.

Ben was able to call on his experience of “dealing with acrimonious divorces”. “All divorces are incredibly emotionally charged”, he began as Gloria asked what are the main causes of divorce. Ben shared his views on what he sees as the two processes impacting on any divorce – the psychological and the legal framework. Beverley joined in to agree that the change in the law to “no fault” divorce will help the psychological imbalances where one partner is more ready to divorce than the other. Gloria asked whether it is possible to have a process with both parties in agreement and Ben was happy to confirm that there is the odd case where it is much simpler but it is rare.

If you would like to listen to the full debate you can catch up online , by scrolling forward to 2.48