How records were not broken

When it comes to divorce, the matter is never a pleasant one and frequently a traumatic experience, with the involvement of lawyers, court proceedings and lengthy arguments over detail ensuring that what is already a difficult situation becomes worse.

Of course, for the average person whose marriage is ending, the whole business is at least not played out in the public eye in the manner of high-profile instances such as Madonna and Guy Ritchie, or the Paul McCartny v Heather Mills case.

However, it may just be that even these cases - far removed as they are in terms of outside attention and the size of material wealth involved from the circumstances of the average splitting couple - can have lessons for how people may go about dealing with the situation.

To talk about reaching an amicable settlement may be one thing, but some may go further and use a DIY divorce kit to ensure the matter is made yet simpler, with no lawyers involved.

This week saw the case of the billionaire jeweller Laurence Graff and his wife Anne Marie, both aged 70, which appeared about to end in the largest settlement in British history, breaking the current settlement record of £48 million, as Mrs Graff was lined up for half her husband's £2 billion fortune.

However, just before the decree nisi was due to be issued, the couple have reportedly made a last minute u-turn and decided to have a go at saving their 47-year marriage.

So it may be that the Graffs are in store for a happy ending, a situation that could repeat itself in the case of singer Amy Winehouse, who according to the Sun has been serenading estranged husband Blake Fielder-Civil with Frank Sinatra tunes in a reconciliation bid.

Whether doing it her way gets the musician a second chance in her marriage or not, the reality for many people is that 11th hour attempts to save a relationship will often fail. That being the case, it may be that the best outcome of all is to avoid the potential extra grief of a prolonged process in which the lawyers may be enriched through arguing over money, homes, cars, children and much else besides.

By undertaking a DIY divorce, a more amicable settlement could be reached. Even if this does not lead to a last-minute reconciliation, it could enable relations to remain cordial, something that may help both on a personal level and where children are involved.

Additionally, it could help produce a deal that is based on the interests of both partners as well as their families, focused on longer-term needs and respecting each other's most important concerns. All this could be a long way from the competitive focus of lawyers keen only to get the best deal they can without considering wider issues.

While there may not be a £2 billion jewellery fortune at stake, undertaking a divorce is still a significant matter. But there are ways of doing it that could, while not necessarily saving a marriage, save plenty of angst, not to mention legal fees.

By Christopher Evans

Published on: March 5, 2009

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