In a spin: surprises, memories and a look to the future
On Sunday morning, after a gruelling spinning session at my local gym, I drove over to see my family at my sister’s house. When I arrived, I was met with a tremendous surprise: my mum was downstairs and she was walking! It’s been a long time since she has been able to walk so well and we were all thrilled. The joy and pride on her face reflected the smiles of everyone around her. It was a lovely gift for Mother’s Day.
This weekend was a “wedding weekend” at Aunty Doo Doo’s house, which meant a change in the sleeping arrangements. Rebecca and the new baby were swiftly replaced by my second niece Abby, who is due to marry her fiancé Jonny this June. She had come home for Mother’s Day and for more exciting wedding planning, although the happy couple and my sister are being very secretive about the big day. All I know is that lots of surprises are planned, so I for one can’t wait!
My father had been busy hunting for my sister’s marriage certificate. Since Abby’s wedding will be an Orthodox Jewish wedding, both sets of parents must produce their own marriage certificate to the Ecclesiastical Authority, known as the Beth Din, in London. This is necessary to demonstrate that all are members of the Jewish Orthodox religion and that their children are eligible to be married within the faith.
When a Jewish Orthodox couple divorce, obtaining the divorce document – the “Get” – is vital. Without it, a divorcing parent and any subsequent children of a second marriage will encounter serious obstacles when attempting to marry.
In these circumstances, practitioners acting in the civil divorce should remember to record their advice in writing, as it is possible to stop the civil proceedings in the event that there is a problem with obtaining the religious divorce. Even though many clients will have an understandable desire to get things done as fast as possible, and therefore dismiss as unnecessary the need to obtain a Get – especially if the other spouse has refused or is making extortionate demands – it is crucial that it is obtained. Also, the civil court can assist to “encourage” the recalcitrant spouse to agree to give the other a Get.
My father also had a little surprise for me this weekend. On his hunt through his papers, he had found a large envelope containing my A-level results. I was about to open them when Dad said “Leave it until you get home; there’s nothing in there to be proud of!” We both laughed remembering when the results arrived home when I was 18 and we all lived together. Although I achieved four A-levels, the grades were very poor – especially given my aspirations to become a lawyer.
My grades – one C, two D’s and an E – weren’t anywhere near good enough to get me into my chosen university. I’m sorry to say that they were entirely the result of sheer laziness and a misplaced self-belief that, I didn’t need to work hard to pass my exams.
I didn’t do much revision at all and assumed the exams would be, as usual, a walkover. The unexpected outcome gave me the biggest shock of my academic career and one I have never forgotten. In fact, sometimes even now, I occasionally still have a nightmare that involves me taking an exam for which I have done no work. I start to read the exam paper… panic…and I wake up sweating!
However this experience, at only 18, has actually shaped my life.
The University of Leeds, with its fantastic Law School and acclaim as one of the world’s top 100 universities, might not appear to be an immediately obvious saviour. However, unbelievably and even with my results, it showed faith in me and offered me a place the following year. The decision was based in part on a magazine that I was editing and writing in my spare time. Writing interested me very much, and as you will note, I continue to enjoy it all these years later.
I learned a hard lesson that too much self-belief and self-confidence can cause a fall. I realised that I should not ever assume that success would drop into my lap and that I could not rest on my laurels. The experience taught me that I should always do more than is necessary and do the best that I possibly could. Perhaps some would say deliberately choosing to have a lack of self-confidence is unnecessary, but I’m glad I’ve chosen that path. The lesson in how easy it is to fail has stayed with me throughout my life and will continue to do so. In work, I drive myself hard: checking, cross-checking and triple-checking everything little thing that I do. I also ask it of the people around me. And I’m the same at play.
Even when I go spinning I have the same attitude. You might think spinning is easy. You start off slow and it doesn’t feel too difficult, so what’s the big deal? But the truth is you soon find that it’s anything but. There is always a faster speed to achieve and a higher level to attain.
By the end of the class this Sunday, I was totally exhausted but felt exhilarated. I had hit very high levels and sustained them for long periods and at a reasonable speed. I told the instructor that his class was so hard that at one point I’d thought about ducking out. His response was to say, no chance – he’d have locked the doors if I’d tried!
The truth is that he will never need to, as he doesn’t know what drives me. It was quite ironic seeing those A-level grades, and smiling as I was recovering with my parents, Abby and my sister over a Mother’s Day coffee. Life could have so easily turned out very differently for me, and I’m so glad it didn’t.
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Marilyn Stowe is the senior partner in Stowe Family Law, which has offices in Yorkshire, Cheshire and London. With more than 30 years’ experience handling divorce cases and family law proceedings she is regarded as one of the most formidable and sought after divorce lawyers in the UK. In 2012, Marilyn became one of the first solicitors to qualify as a family law arbitrator.
All persons mentioned in the scenarios are fictitious: details have been deliberately changed in order to protect identities and other confidential circumstances of my clients. All advice and information on this blog including posts written by guest authors, is given only as a general guide to the operation of the law on the date of publication. Readers must place no reliance whatsoever on the content of this blog and must always obtain their own legal advice. Marilyn Stowe, Stowe Family Law LLP and guest authors accept no liability whatsoever arising as a result of reliance upon its content.
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