Celebrity divorce lawyer Fiona Shackleton is trying to develop a ‘relationship suitability app’ to prevent ill-suited teenage lovers from rushing into marrying too young.
Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia wants schools to effectively discourage young people from marrying before they have identified possible red flags in their relationships.
Most recently, Baroness Shackleton represented Princess Haya in her acrimonious divorce proceedings with her estranged husband, Sheikh Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.
She also represented Sir Paul McCartney in his divorce to Heather Mills – who famously threw a jug of water over the lawyer in court after she was granted some £24million in the break-up.
Now the high-profile solicitor seeks to develop an app and a series of classroom modules for schools which would ultimately identify red flags ‘before a couple agrees to commit to each other’.
Celebrity divorce lawyer Fiona Shackleton (pictured with Ian Shackleton) is developing a relationship app to prevent ill-suited teenage lovers from rushing into marrying too young
Paul McCartney and his lawyer Fiona Shackleton at the High Court in central London in 2008
Prince Charles and Fiona Shackleton at an exhibition in London on January 17, 2000
It builds off research she sponsored at Exeter University which reported relationships among teenagers usually break down because of ‘unrealistic expectations’ or ‘incompatibility’.
Baroness Shackleton, 64, said the project would go into schools to get teenagers to work out why they wanted to get married.
‘Is it because you want to get out of school uniform and get into a wedding dress?’ she told the Times.
‘Do you want the white wedding? Do you like the sex? Are you keen on an alpha male who you think will be all lovely and sweet in the evenings?
‘But if they are brilliant at finance they may be on the autistic radar. What would you do if your spouse lost their job?’
She also said that secondary school students needed to be asked ‘the sort of questions that look at fundamental compatibility’, arguing that stopping people from getting married who should not would be ‘money well spent and it would do us out of a job’.
Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein of Jordan (right) leaves the High Court with her lawyer Fiona Shackleton on July 31, 2019 in London
Baroness Shackleton with Liam Gallagher, who she represented during his legal battle with his ex-wife, All Saints singer Nicole Appleton, at the Central Family Court in London in 2015
Tatiana Akhmedova who was awarded £453million by a judge after her marriage to billionaire businessman Farkhad Akhmedov broke down, arrives at the Royal Court of Justice in London
A report published by Exeter University’s Shackleton Relationships Project said the it ‘aimed to provide an evidence base to inform a fitting relationship programme for young people’.
The June 2018 report said it ‘considered the main causes of relationship breakdown and reflected on views of family law practitioners and couples on how it might be avoided’, the report added.
The Project found that a ‘failure to deal with issues and failure to nuture the relationship’ was another common predictor of relationship breakdown.
It concluded that young people reacted ‘positively’ to further relationship education in schools and that they wanted to be involved in the programme design.
Key subjects in relationship education include ‘discussion of commitment and empathy’, as well as identifying signs of an abusive relationship.
Critical questions that young people could ask are:
- Are my partner and I a ‘good fit’?
- Do we have a strong basis of friendship?
- Do we want the same things in our relationship and out of life?
- Are our expectations realistic?
- Do we generally see the best in each other?
- Do we both work at keeping our relationship vibrant?
- Do we both feel we can discuss things freely and raise issues with each other?
- Are we both committed to working through hard times?
- When we face stressful circumstances would we pull together to get through it?
- Do we each have supportive others around us?
The high-profile solicitor seeks to develop an app and a series of classroom modules for schools which would identify red flags ‘before a couple agrees to commit to each other’
Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia was a partner in law firm Farrer & Co and represented Prince Charles when he divorced Princess Diana in 1996
Baroness Shackleton recently accused Farrer & Co, which has acted for the Royal Family since the 1930s, of being a hotbed of anti-Semitism and sexism.
She revealed that she left Farrers after becoming the victim of prejudice because she was a Jewish woman.
‘Women were bullied and, being a Jew, I was bullied,’ she claimed.
‘To be told, ‘We only got this client because we don’t employ a Jew in conveyancing, or ‘You’re not going to get equity because [you feel] it’s better to have two children’ ‘
She added: ‘I was bringing in much more work than anyone but I would leave at 5.30pm to put my daughters to bed. They terrorised me into thinking I wasn’t very good.’
A Farrers spokesperson said: ‘The firm is saddened by Fiona’s comments. They do not reflect the firm of 20 years ago, nor do they bear any relation to the firm of today.
‘Fiona was an equity partner and her departure had nothing whatsoever to do with her gender or her faith.’
She also warned in March that coronavirus lockdowns were ‘very likely’ to lead to an increase in marriage break-ups.
Baroness Shackleton told the House of Lords: ‘Our peak times are after long exposure during the summer holidays and over Christmas.
‘One only has to imagine what it’s going to be like when families are sealed in a property for a long period of time.