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Strictly Private: an update on the Redknapp divorce

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Almost seven months after the issue of the Decree Nisi, celebrity couple Jamie and Louise Redknapp have arrived at a financial agreement in a saga which has plagued the tabloids this year. After Mrs Redknapp starred on the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing in 2016, the Redknapp’s separation has been cited as evidence of the notorious ‘strictly curse,’ a contemporary myth blamed for the destruction of countless relationships over the years. The divorce has raised debates concerning privacy when it comes to family legal matters, especially when children are involved.

In a Courtroom this Friday absent of both parties, representatives of Jamie and Louise came to a financial arrangement, which was praised by Judge Sarah Gibbons for the ‘consensual agreement which is always in the best interests of the children and much to their credit.’ Mr. and Mrs Redknapp have two young sons, aged thirteen and nine. However, this financial agreement has been kept private from the public after document release was blocked by the Judge, for unspecified reasons. To the disappointment of the gossip columns, details of the case have been kept in the shadows. At the Central Family Court on December 29th 2017, Judge Ian Mulkins issued the Decree Nisi on the basis that Mrs Redknapp could not "reasonably be expected" to live with her husband’s behaviour decided that the marriage had ‘broken down irretrievably.’ Mr. Redknapp did not mount a defense to this petition.

So, what does the Court allow the media to see? Living in the public eye, and as parents to two young boys, it is understandable that the former couple want to keep their marriage troubles as private as possible. And fortunately for them, the Family Court rules (FPR rule 29.12) essentially dictate that usually those not directly involved will be blocked from access to information, unless the judge says otherwise. However, some documents can be viewed in some cases, but not all the time. In this case, the Daily Mail acquired several court documents, including the application for the Decree Nisi. If the divorce was contested in open Court, press and the public would have been able to see evidence. The bottom line is that usually, for those not directly involved, access to information is limited, unless in contested divorces or the Judge rules otherwise.  

Certainly, it can be argued that in this media age, it is naïve to believe that real privacy exists today. Especially for celebrities who live their lives publically. However, surely privacy should still be respected in such sensitive, family Court cases, as the details serve no legitimate public good other than gossip. The press has fought hard to flash details of the divorce, about how Mrs Redknapp felt ‘trapped,’ or trying to guess the cause of Mr. Redknapp’s ‘unreasonable behaviour.’ But it appears to be a fairly standard, uncontested divorce, and much conversation in the press is purely speculation.