By Sarah Cornes
In January this year Gary Lineker and his second wife, Danielle Bux, announced they were to divorce. The divorce reportedly cost “only £410”, the court fee at the time. The couple came to a financial agreement between themselves and state that they downloaded and completed all forms without the help of a solicitor. The media encouraged the belief that “If Gary Lineker can divorce for £410 so can you!” In an interview this week, Gary Lineker went further stating that “lawyers try to manipulate it to make you spend more money and basically end up hating each other”. He claims to have a solution; there should be a “mathematical equation” allowing couples to bypass lawyers and go straight to the Court who would then grant them a divorce on the terms computed by the formula. According to him, this would be a) cheaper and b) would allow the couple to part on better terms.
It is undoubtedly true that, if possible, this would be cheaper for divorcing couples. But no two family situations, and no two divorces, are the same. It would therefore be impossible to formulate a straightforward ‘equation’ which would take into account all factors and give a fair outcome in each and every case. Indeed, it is not until there has been full disclosure of each party’s financial means and a consideration of the matter as a whole, that a financial agreement can be properly considered.
To suggest that “the norm” should be for couples to do this without the help of a solicitor risks the financially weaker, or a more vulnerable, party, or the parent who is the main carer of children, getting less than they need or may be entitled to. Indeed this could increase the animosity between the parties, the opposite of what Gary Lineker envisages. His suggestion also does not take into account the fact that solicitors often advise with other aspects of marital breakdown, for example child contact arrangements, which cannot be dealt with by way of a simple formula.
In any event the involvement of lawyers does not mean that the couple “end up hating each other”, or that the matter will end up in Court. Most specialist family solicitors, including those at TWM, are members of Resolution, a national organisation of family lawyers committed to a non-confrontational approach to family problems, and which encourage improved communication between parents after divorce. The many options, which minimise legal costs and animosity, include mediation or the Collaborative process, which ensure that the parties are assisted in reaching their own fully informed decision on the basis of the interests of the family (including children) as a whole, rather than applying a “one size fits all” formula.
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