Acts of revenge on cheating spouses always make for easy headlines. Farmers who dump truck loads of manure on their ex-wife’s front lawn, wives who cut one sleeve off every shirt in their husband’s wardrobe, you know the sort of thing.
Nowadays with social media omnipresent, these acts of revenge can get a lot of air time, and even “go viral”. So we have been amused by the apparent story of a separated German man “Martin” who posted a video on You Tube showing him sawing his possessions in half and then putting them for sale on eBay. You can watch the video here It is titled “For Laura” (presumably the ex-wife), and the opening words translate as: “Thank you for 12 ‘beautiful’ years Laura !!!!! You’ve really earned half, greetings to my successor.” The man also appeared to put up 16 items for sale on eBay, including half of a bed, car, computer, sofa, teddy and a slice of an iPhone.
Rather delightfully, the video was taken at face value by many news channels, including Fox News in the USA and others in Iran and Russia, and reported as genuine. It has received over 6 million views on YouTube. However it turned out to be a publicity stunt by Deutsche Anwaltauskunft, which is an information portal for the German Bar Association. They confessed, saying “The idea behind it was to humorously point to a problem that is not only relevant in Germany: too few married couples take precautions for the case of a possible separation – for example with a marriage contract. The event of divorce then often ends in bitter fights under which not only cars and furniture suffer but especially the affected couples and their children.”
This is quite an unusual way to draw attention to the need to consider a pre-nuptial agreement or other ways of protecting your assets. Apparently the bisected items do exist and are really being auctioned on eBay with the proceeds to be donated to charity.
Advertising the services of family lawyers is always a delicate balance. You may recall the widespread distaste which greeted a short-lived advertising campaign in London a few years ago which featured posters aimed at husbands, bearing the slogan “ditch the bitch” and the equivalent for the ladies: “all men are b*stards”.
An American firm recently put some adverts on YouTube which appear to be wedding and honeymoon videos, but then when you press “play” it simply says “this video has been removed by the user. Divorce happens.” followed by the name of the law firm.
Back over here, there is law firm in Birmingham that was slammed by a councillor in the local press for advertising their family law services with the innocuous slogan: “Unhappy with your partner? Speak to us in confidence and discuss your options”. Proving that family law remains an emotive issue, the councillor claimed that the “family is now under attack from some members of the legal profession …..We must ask whether touting for business amongst the saddest part of life is encouraging people to end their relationships and do long term damage to children.”
This is an example of how emotive the subject of divorce is: it seems to us that the advert was hardly promoting divorce or attacking the family, it simply said options could be discussed in confidence. One might imagine the same phrase to be used by a therapist. As one could hardly say advertising conveyancing services encourages people to move house, simply advertising family law services is not encouraging divorce. It is important that people going through relationship difficulties are aware that there are knowledgeable professionals who can help them. As Resolution family lawyers, we pride ourselves on assisting human beings to make the right decisions for themselves and their families, and wouldn’t dream of adding further pressure onto an already stressful situation. As for adverts in general, it would be offensive to suggest that anyone’s decision to end a relationship would be swayed by seeing an advertisement from a lawyer.
One thing that some divorce lawyers don’t realise is that people going through the painful process of separation may well find adverts from divorce lawyers, particularly the more hard-hitting or apparently humorous ones, to be tasteless. The German Bar Association’s advertisement is clever in that it targets people who have successfully moved on from a divorce, or who have not experienced one personally, to think about making plans for a marriage contract should they ever marry. They are not seeking specifically to target those involved in or contemplating a divorce at the present moment. Those who are, who see the advert, may not be so amused.
If you are considering sawing your possessions in half, please consider making an appointment to see Gail, Simon, Sue, Adam or Tricia to discuss it (or any other aspect of family law) beforehand. We are on 01223 443333.