Summary: Simple domestic misunderstandings can all too easily escalate into full-blown matrimonial divorce dispute proceedings.
Matrimonial disputes are never easy. They invariably come with years of emotional baggage. As you will have read elsewhere on this site, I am not a family mediator per se. Couples I work with invariably have substantial assets and need a commercial approach, rather than marriage guidance or counselling.
Mr and Mrs O was an interesting case. At the very first meeting, it was clear that Mrs O was being abused by her husband – certainly emotionally and possibly even physically. Mr O refused to leave the family home insisting by living there, he was helping and supporting his wife. Conversely, it could be argued that he was destroying her also. As a well known residential property developer in the area, there was certainly no shortage of homes for Mr O to move into. I convinced him that the best way forward, to break the logjam, was for him to move out, which he did. In this way, Mrs O felt as if she had own private space, feeling more relaxed, secure and less pressurised. On the other side of the coin, the advantage to Mr O was that “absence makes the heart grow fonder!”
Mr O was undoubtedly controlling, stipulating which lawyers and other professionals Mrs O could use. Knowing that these professionals were approved and appointed by her husband, Mrs O was understandably less than enthusiastic to deal with them. Meetings with the couple, both with and excluding their professional advisers were tinged by a tangible almost sinister atmosphere. Mrs O’s body language and micro-expressions spoke volumes. Notwithstanding, after digging deeper at the pre-mediation meetings, it became clear that Mr O was besotted with his wife – although he had a very strange way of showing it – using both physical and psychological bullying to keep his wife close and controlled.
By the end of my time with the couple, they came to the conclusion that divorce was not only inevitable but really was for the best. The couple divorced and, as I understand it, now have a much better relationship.
I would like to point out that my matrimonial cases do not necessarily end in divorce. While I produce the requisite paperwork for the lawyers and other professionals, these documents may simply lie on file for nothing more than information purposes.
The husband of one extremely wealthy couple, who had been married for nearly thirty-seven years, asked me if I was going to “get them back together”. I responded: “Why? Do you want to get back together?” I made it clear that was not what I do but if they got back together as a result of our meetings, so be it. This couple did in fact stay together.