Miles Kington Remembered: How to split up – if you can't think how to tell the other half

It's bad enough sharing your possessions after a divorce without having friends come along and claim their share back
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The Independent Online

(16 June 1999) It is never hard to get advice about marriage – what to wear, how much to spend, where to honeymoon – but it is frighteningly difficult to get good advice about being divorced. That's where Rudolph Fastnet comes in. He is, as far as I know, one of Britain's very few full-time divorce consultants, if not the only one, and I am pleased to let him answer your problems about divorce today.

Dear Mr Fastnet, I've read that it is now commonplace to spend as much as £11,000 on a wedding.

Rudolph Fastnet writes: You wait till you find out how much the average divorce costs.

Dear Mr Fastnet, No, no, you have jumped the gun. I haven't come to my point yet.

Rudolph Fastnet writes: Sorry. I've always had the bad habit of interrupting conversations and assuming I know what people are going to say. My late wife used to say she had never completed a conversation in my presence in her life.

Dear Mr Fastnet, I am sorry to hear about your wife. Has she been dead long?

Rudolph Fastnet writes: She is not dead at all. By late wife, I meant ex-wife. We were divorced in 1997 and again in 1998.

Dear Mr Fastnet, You were divorced twice?

Rudolph Fastnet writes: No, just the once. But the solicitors were very, very slow. Now, that question?

Dear Mr Fastnet, As weddings now average a cost of about £11,000, I wonder if there is any way of ensuring the money is not wasted. My daughter intends to get married next year and expects me to pay for it. I would be quite happy to do so if I were sure her marriage would last. But what happens if her marriage fails? Can I get insured against the failure of the marriage, so that if and when she gets divorced I can get the money back?

Rudolph Fastnet writes: It would be very expensive. Would it not be better to get your daughter to sign some kind of indemnity, saying that in case of divorce she would be prepared to pay back all the money you lavished on her wedding?

Dear Mr Fastnet, Isn't it tasteless to discuss the end of my daughter's marriage before it has begun?

Rudolph Fastnet writes: I don't see why. If you start paying into a pension fund in your 20s, are you being morbid? If you pay life insurance, you are planning for the day you die at a time when you are still young. Is that tasteless? Planning for your divorce before you get married is only sensible.

Dear Mr Fastnet,Ah yes, but death is inevitable. Divorce is not.

Rudolph Fastnet writes: Wanna bet? Next question, please.

Dear Mr Fastnet, Some very good friends of mine have been married for 15 years and, to the distress of my wife and me, have announced they are splitting up, although my wife and I thought, of all pairs, they would be the last to get divorced.

Rudolph Fastnet writes: It's always the way, isn't it? It's always the perfect pair that goes first.

Dear Mr Fastnet, Will you please stop interrupting?

Rudolph Fastnet writes: Sorry, darling. I mean, sorry. Do carry on.

Dear Mr Fastnet, Well, when they got married, my wife and I gave them as a wedding present the most wonderful antique coffee-grinder made out of pear wood, which we have always half regretted parting with, and I wonder if we could now ask for it back?

Rudolph Fastnet writes: No. It's bad enough sharing your possessions after a divorce without having friends come along and claim their share back. There is only one golden rule when it comes to wedding presents. Give people stuff you would never want back. You should have seen the stuff my wife's people gave me when we got married. I felt like saying to them, "You've not lost a daughter but gained a rubbish skip!" I sent back a lot of my wedding presents, I can tell you! Still, never mind about me. Any more questions about you?

Dear Mr Fastnet, I have a rather unusual query. My parents, being children of the Sixties, never married, while I, probably as a reaction, went through a white wedding and all the conventional thing. Well, my parents have now finally decided to get married, at the advanced age of 55. This is a little awkward, because my husband and I have decided to get divorced and we were just nerving ourselves to telling everyone. But it might make things better if we arranged a combined ceremony. Is there any precedent for this?

Rudolph Fastnet writes: I thought I had heard everything. Now I have heard everything.

Would you like a divorce but can't think how to tell your spouse? For this and all other advice, write to Rudolph Fastnet...