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Celebrating divorced style

I went to a fantastic party on the weekend.

There were nearly 200 people at my old friend’s family home. There was lots of champagne, lots of speeches and lots of love.

Guests covered three generations – the party girl’s kids and her parents, her husband’s kids . . . and her first husband, his parents, and even a few of his friends.

My friend and her first husband split up 13 years ago. They had been mates at uni and their three kids were really little at the time.

Back then it was hard for a lot of their friends to understand how things unfolded. For many of us, they were the first friends to break up.

Now I genuinely see it as a family law inspiration – and one of the main reasons I look for blue sky for the clients I meet in my job.

My friend is an exceedingly generous person who’s goal in life is to make other people’s lives easier, not cause pain. She wanted to make her marriage breakdown “work”.

She shook her head when I told her that and said: “Don’t give me the credit, husband one was a major part of that, it never would have worked without him.”

She’s a wonderful person and in so many ways I’d like to be more like her – and if I ever left my husband, I’d try to follow her lead.

First, they never sold the family home (not for 12 years anyway). The kids never moved out – sometimes Mum was there, sometimes it was Dad.

Everyone’s clothes were in the same cupboard, washed like magic and rehung as children expect. Mum did the shopping and stocked the cupboards each week as usual. Lunches were made, dinner was on the table, homework was done.

They kept a joint bank account for family expenses. Life went on.

Again though, my friend is quick to point out – it was no utopia.

From a family lawyer perspective it’s sometimes a trap to just think about practicalities and forget all the emotion.

It was hard and friends took sides. It was hard on my girlfriend’s new partner. It was hard financially. It was hard on her in-laws. In lots of ways it was hard to start afresh.

I only learnt recently that it was husband one who very early on shut down nastiness.

He told his mates he didn’t want to hear any bitching and then he said: “Whatever happens we are always going to have our three kids together.”

And whatever it cost the adults, they set off on a course that would protect those kids as much as possible.

Fantastic kids they are too – grown up, confident, successful, part of a big unconventional family, with a healthy respect for the flaws of all the adults in their lives.

They still see all their grandparents, they get all their parents – first and step – at speech nights, band gigs and graduations.

And they could look out on their Mum’s big night and know they are part of a big family, not a big war.

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