Do(n’t) Do It Yourself…

The Wife of DIY SOS TV star Nick Knowles has reportedly ‘blasted’ him for refusing to pay the private school fees for their 3-year-old son as their ‘bitter divorce turned ugly’. Sensationalist reporting is par for the course with the Sun and often brings with it a number of factual inaccuracies which need to be put straight.  The Sun may neither have the time nor inclination to do so but for family lawyers and clients, this misreporting can have far reaching consequences.

Both Jessica Moor and Nick Knowles are being advised by their solicitors and whilst what goes on behind closed doors in these matters should be kept private and away from the media’s clutches, emotions inevitably run high and outbursts ensure.  It is natural in stressful scenarios for people going through a separation to need to find a way of letting off steam but sadly in this case, Ms Moor found her ‘out’ in the form of twitter, to thousands of followers which was inevitably picked up on in the national tabloid press.

Ms Moor posted a tirade, accusing Mr Knowles of ‘emotional cruelty, abuse and eventually isolation’.   Firstly, it is important to remember that generally speaking, the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage do not have an impact on the division of the finances and whether or not a party will secure a school fees order for their child/children.   The conduct of one party can have a bearing on the way in which the money is divided but only in extreme cases and has to be sufficiently serious to justify it.

Ms Moor also complained of Mr Knowles’ refusal to pay for her legal fees.  Again, there is no automatic right or requirement for a spouse to pay the legal fees of the other if an application to the Court is made in respect of the finances.  In most cases, the parties will pay their own legal fees. In some instances, a party can seek to recover their fees (or a proportion) but whether or not they are successful is at the discretion of the Court and depends on the circumstances.  If there is a disparity in income it may be possible to apply for a ‘legal fees order’ and a number of factors when assessing the application would be considered but before getting to that stage, it is important that the spouse seeking the assistance has explored all other available funding options first and foremost.

Ms Moor has also implied that Mr Knowles will choose to pay the fees direct rather than paying her an additional allowance.  If Ms Moor is successful in her application for a School Fees Order, it is correct procedure for Mr Knowles to pay the school directly.

These minor inaccuracies are unhelpful and the reporting does little to help people in similar scenarios to grasp a realistic understanding of how to go about a separation and the implications of doing so.  This is why it is important to take clear and realistic advice from the outset and to remain focussed on your desired outcome with as few unwelcome distractions along the way as possible.  If you have any questions about this article or would like advice about school fees orders, please contact Lucy Steele on 01603 679052 or email ls@bblfamilylaw.com.

Posted by Lucy Steele