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Love and divorce

Alan Smith
© Bacho |

After a weekend of celebration over the Royal Wedding, seems a shame to bring up the seeming inevitability of the prospect of divorce. But I shall.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle exchanged vows in front of 600 guests including the Queen, more than 30 royals and famed faces such as Oprah Winfrey, tennis champ Serena Williams, actor George Clooney and his advocate wife Amal Clooney, Sir Elton John, David and Victoria Beckham and actor Idris Elba.

Sir Elton, who sang at the funeral service for Harry's mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, performed at the lunchtime reception.

An estimated 100,000 people turned out to see the couple as they sat in an open-top carriage for a procession through Windsor.

We Brits do this kind of thing remarkably well. The Pomp and Circumstance of the event drawing a TV audience around the world of millions, and street parties (certainly in my Sussex village) aplenty.

The fact the Meghan Markle is an American, of mixed race and divorced herself, shows just how far the Royal Family have progressed since the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936 which caused a constitutional crisis.

Compare this with the news in the Times this Saturday about the apparent Business-ification (not a real word) of divorce, particularly with entrepreneurs, who take their business skills into the divorce courts to drive hard-nosed deals.

Many are aggravating the distress of divorce by treating it like a business deal. Husbands and wives in an estimated 5 percent of divorces use boardroom negotiating techniques in an effort to make spouses accept smaller settlements, a lawyer has said.

Abigail Lowther, an associate solicitor with Hall Brown Family Law, said “It is relatively common to find professional men and women, particularly those who have established their own enterprises, creating problems by adopting a very hard-nosed and overly commercial approach to their divorces. A number of recent cases which we have handled have featured complaints about the distress of former partners almost being overlooked in the determination to cut a deal.”

The cynic in me thinks well why not?

In transactional deals where we are unlikely to have anything to do with the person we are dealing with in the future, and let’s face it that’s the reality in many situations of divorce, I would certainly see the value of driving the other side as hard as I possibly can. Don’t spare the horses!

That is where divorce can be seen as very different from many business deals when the long-term relationship may very much be damaged by such behaviour. Being aggressive, unpleasant, lying, cheating and shouting in a long-term relationship may work once, or even for a while, but be careful when circumstances change.

If children are in the frame, all bets are off. For me, I have to look myself in the mirror each morning, and I suspect that look would be much less pleasant if I have treated others with such contempt.

As an old chum of mine said to me, be as aggressive as you like with your objectives in any negotiation but try not to take that behaviour into the meeting. It may not help.


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