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Husband Tells Court His Wife Must Be Mad To Want To Divorce him

A rejected husband attempted to stop his wife divorcing him by telling a court that she must be mad to want to leave him. This article appeared in the Daily Telegraph and can be accessed here:

At first glance one might be inclined to chuckle at the bravado of the husband. However, on closer inspection this is a deeply sad story and an all too common tale of a marriage breakdown.

Peter Savva, said that his wife of 34 years, Niki, must be “ill” or “confused” to want to end their marriage and asked the Court of Appeal to order a psychiatric assessment of her. The judge, Lady Justice Black, did not agree stating that the wife showed no sign of being mentally unstable but that Mr Savva was unable to accept that the marriage was over.

As a family solicitor it is a common occurrence to find that one party believes the marriage to be at an end and the other does not. This creates difficulties for all involved. We family solicitors are often portrayed as ruthless and unprincipled characters – the reality is very different. The majority of us are members of Resolution who are committed to handling family matters in a sensitive, constructive, amicable and cost effective way. I will always discuss with the client the possibility of reconciliation and direct them to marriage guidance where possible.

However, the simple fact of the matter is that if one party is set on obtaining a divorce there is little, if anything, the other party can do to prevent that. It is only right that the person who feels the marriage has irretrievably broken down has the right to bring it to an end.

Mr Savva was also of the view that there be a “cooling off” period before any party could go ahead with the divorce. The parties often reach different stages of emotion at different times. Many can be initially angry or distressed and perhaps not in the best frame of mind to conduct serious proceedings at first. Whereas others may have been thinking of separation for a long time and adjusted to the prospect of a separation. There are a mix of emotions following a separation and each situation needs to be handled sensitively. I actually think this is a sensible suggestion but the technicalities would be difficult. When would the “cooling off” period start (many parties cannot even agree on their date of separation!) and how long should it be?

Mr Savva has stated that he would now seek a judicial review of the laws governing the process of divorce. I wish him luck – but sadly this is an area of the law that many governments have tended to leave alone.

For expert and specialist advice please contact Suzy Hamshaw on 01635 521212 or


Written by Suzy Hamshaw

December 9th, 2014 at 7:20 am

Proposed Legal Aid Cuts will Place Vulnerable At Risk

A Newbury solicitor who specialises in family law has warned that forthcoming cuts to legal aid will place the vulnerable at risk, particularly women and children.

Suzy Hamshaw - Divorce Specialist, Family Law Expert and Financial Claims on Divorce

Suzy Hamshaw

It will also lead to an increase in people representing themselves and clogging up the court system – resulting in couples having to wait longer for their family dispute to be resolved.

From April 2013, legal aid will no longer be available for divorce, financial disputes and disputes in relation to children, except in cases where domestic abuse is involved.

Suzy Hamshaw, a family lawyer with Newbury firm, Charles Lucas & Marshall, says that once legal aid is removed from family cases, it will particularly affect women who have little or no income if they are caring for children.

“They will not be able to afford legal advice compared to their working husband or partner, placing them at a disadvantage,” he says.

“This will lead inevitably to more couples representing themselves in court. This always slows down the legal process.”

Cases involving domestic abuse will still get funding under legal aid. While this is to be welcomed it also raises concerns.

“It could lead to some people making unfounded allegations in order to obtain legal aid, and that fathers, in particular will not be able to fight to see their children,” added Suzy Hamshaw.

However, as well as violence there may be other concerns, such as alcohol or drug misuse within a family. These issues may never reach the surface because but they are not in the public domain.

“One person in the relationship is aware there is a problem but cannot afford to contest the matter,” said Suzy Hamshaw, “They may give in, which could lead to children being exposed to risk of harm.

“Yet if the case was to go to court, there are simple tests available to check for alcohol or drug misuse and the court can ask for thorough risk and psychological assessments to be conducted. Previously the costs of these would have been covered by legal aid – but how will these costs be met now?”

Suzy Hamshaw is a member of Resolution, a national organisation of family lawyers who are committed to conducting family disputes in a constructive and non-confrontational manner.

“Although the aim should always be to keep family disputes out of court, there are going to be cases where court intervention is in the best interests of children and one or both of the parents,” he added

“There are many cases where legal aid is a genuine need and many couples will soon be denied access to it. The fallout could lead to social and economic problems which far outweigh the savings the government is attempting to make from the legal aid budget.”

For expert and specialist advice please contact Suzy Hamshaw on 01635 521212 or

Written by Suzy Hamshaw

December 9th, 2013 at 11:10 am

Going to Live in Ireland?

Q. I have separated from my partner and the father of our 10 year old son. I wish to return to live and work near my family in Ireland.   What do I need to do?

A. Suzy Hamshaw, family lawyer at Charles Lucas & Marshall

Regions of Ireland

Regions of Ireland

The first question to consider is whether your son’s father has parental responsibility for him.  If you were married, entered into a parental responsibility agreement or if there is a Court order for parental responsibility then he will have parental responsibility.  His name being on the birth certificate will not be enough as your son was born before 2003.  

Any decision to emigrate or ‘remove a child permanently from the jurisdiction’ should be made jointly by those with parental responsibility and in any event your son’s father’s consent should be sought.  If he agrees then it would be sensible to record that consent in writing before making arrangements.  If he does not agree and you wish to go ahead with the planned move then, assuming he has parental responsibility, you will need to consider making an application to the Court under The Children Act 1989 for leave to permanently remove your son from the jurisdiction of England and Wales.

Your partner may also choose to make an application for a prohibited steps order to prevent you from removing your son and possibly a residence order should he wish for your son to live with him in the event of you moving.

If residence is in dispute the Court will deal with this aspect first and the approach will differ to a situation where you are the clear primary carer.  In all cases the Court will give paramount consideration to your son’s welfare.  The Court will also give consideration to the whole of the period of your son’s dependence and not just the immediate future.

The Court will consider the reason for the application and your desire to emigrate. A move for compelling reasons such as employment, family etc may be viewed differently to one simply made as a ‘lifestyle’ choice.  The reasonableness of the proposed move must be considered alongside the effect of the application being refused.

The circumstances of the proposed move will also be considered such as living conditions and financial implications and as your son is 10 years old the Court is likely to give significant weight to his wishes and feelings.

The effect of the proposed move on your son’s contact with his father will be important as will be the impact on their relationship.  In this respect much might depend on the arrangements for residence and contact you currently have and to what extent you share the care of your son.

Applications to the Court of this nature can be costly and complex and need to be thoroughly and properly thought through and prepared.  In any situation, before Court proceedings are contemplated, it is always sensible to consider other ways in which you might try to reach agreement such as attending mediation or by using  collaborative law.

For further information contact Suzy Hamshaw at Charles Lucas & Marshall’s Newbury office on 01635 521212 or at the Hungerford office on 01488 682506 or e-mail her at

Written by Suzy Hamshaw

January 5th, 2012 at 8:24 am