OK, let’s face it, I’m short.  Even in heels I barely reach most men’s shoulders.  My children (both boys, both taller than me from a young age) think it’s hysterical to put things on high shelves so I can’t reach them, especially when I make them empty the dishwasher.

For ages I wasn’t the smallest member of the family – then the cat died and now I’m called shorty by the rest of the household.

Yesterday I asked my youngest son (6ft 2) to hold my coffee, so I could pay for the car parking ticket. He put my drink on top of the machine where I couldn’t reach it and was still laughing when I drove off without him.

I’m that short.

But short is still a relative factor.

I may be shorter than everyone else, but I’m faster, especially when I’m driving and my son is left on the curb, still laughing.

When it comes to marriages, short is even more relative.  The shorter the marriage, the less the parties may be entitled to claim from each other, but what constitutes a short marriage?  Sadly there’s no easy answer, as it’s not just about how long ago you married.  Things like your ages and if you lived together before marriage might (in some circumstances) be taken into account.  What’s more, Judges have a degree of discretion when deciding whether a marriage was short, medium or long.

Which is why, when people ask me what they are likely to get/have to give in a divorce, I can never give a straight answer. It’s not because I haven’t had enough coffee today, but because every case is different.

However, there are still things that you can do to try and control the situation.

For example, I’ve been involved in several cases recently where the parties had split up years ago but were not in a rush to do anything about it.  This turned out to be a mistake on both sides.  For my client it meant that her ex put in a much bigger claim than was justified, arguing that it was a long marriage even though they only lived together with shared expenses for a few years.  For the other side it meant that he refused to accept what turned out to be a very sensible settlement (because he was sure it was going to be found to be a long marriage) and ended up getting less than she’d offered him at the outset.  The only winners were the solicitors and barristers, but we take no satisfaction in such an outcome. I’d rather have lots of quick cost-effective results than one big result where my client is probably never going to want to see me again.

Which means that whilst divorce shouldn’t be rushed into, any more than marriage should, waiting indefinitely to take legal advice can have its disadvantages too.

If you fancy having a coffee and a chat about your options, and what you might be able to do to protect your position, I’m always happy to talk things through with people before they make any decisions, but you may have to bring the coffee with you, or a step ladder.

Kleyman & Co Solicitors.  The full service law firm.  Not tall but still mighty.