It would appear that Gary Lineker and his wife are divorcing because he does not want a family and she does. He feels that he is too old at 55 and with 4 children already whereas she is 36. You would have to wonder if they discussed this before marriage? This is Gary’s second marriage. His first marriage ended after 20 years or so, and it is likely that Gary had to pay up handsomely and why not, it was a 20 year marriage with several children and all that entails. However, we are told it was amicable. Perhaps so, but we should probably bear Gary’s history in mind here when examining Gary’s comments about divorce lawyers.
Gary slams out at divorce lawyers for apparently striving to “up the ante” to incur more legal fees. He wants the divorce process simplified so that it becomes a mathematical equation.
I am sure that there are divorce lawyers who cynically manipulate separating couples in order to get more fees because, of course, legal rows and court battles are expensive. But everyone knows that! Gary Linekar knows that if you walk into steel and chrome in an up market financial district or perfectly preserved Victorian or Georgian buildings, to a large firm with large overheads and a reputation for winning, then you are going to pay and pay dearly for that. You are paying for the art work, the architect, the upkeep, the large plants and so on and so forth as well as the advice. That’s not just true of lawyers, it is true of all professionals. There are also many, many family lawyers, and in Ireland I would say that is the majority of them, who behave honestly and with integrity, however, even with such lawyers, like it or not, court battles are expensive even when they are done by people with integrity. However, there are alternatives, lawyer negotiation, mediation outside the legal system and mediation within the legal system as well as collaborative practice, all of which offered Gary and anyone else wishing to avail of these services, an opportunity to deal with their affairs in an non adversarial manner. Since in all of these alternative processes lawyers will be involved at some stage, however, at significantly reduced fees, there is a very good chance of the agreement standing up if challenged in court at a later date. I would find it difficult to believe that Gary was not made aware of these alternatives. Two points arise, however, the first being, that people generally get the type of representation they are seeking. If I shop or seek recommendations for rothweiller solicitor/lawyer then that sort of representation comes with an ethos and a price tag and secondly, it takes two to make peace. If both parties want to settle their case, then they will seek the representation that will ensure that result. Lawyers are obliged to tell you what they are charging and you know well in advance of going down a particular path what the likely price tag will be and while there can be some leeway as some people demand more time from their lawyers than others, you should still know the ballpark figure and if you don’t that is an issue to take up with the lawyer or change lawyers. It should also be noted that if only one party wants to settle then with the best will in the world on the other side, it cannot happen. It would seem that in the instant case, they did resolve matters through a DIY website. Hardly wise in this type of case.
The other thing that occurs to me is that angry people whose marriages are ending or over are seldom cool, calm and collected. Mostly, they are angry, upset and in pain. Anger transference is something that lawyers deal with every day of the week. It can be really difficult to manage angry clients particularly, when we have no training for this. Our core training is in adversarial litigation. We are likely to respond to anger in kind. Those of us with advanced training in alternative dispute resolution are likely to spot this and try our best to manage it but not always successfully. Clearly, Gary Linekar should perhaps reflect on his role in the two marital breakdowns, the choices he has made and consider the impact of that, rather than blaming solicitors however, it may be easier and less painful to just blame the solicitors. Bit like shooting fish in a barrel really and as a sportsman Gary should be up for more of a challenge than that.
It would seem that Mr LInekar went online and found himself online assistance for a DIY divorce costing €400 and he now seems to be suggesting that everyone should avail of this. If there are no assets and if there are no issues, such assistance might work for some people and can save in costs, however, if there are significant assets, as there probably are in Gary’s case, then there are significant potential problems in doing a DIY. To protect yourself in such a situation it is very important that both parties make a full financial disclosure to each other on affidavit (sworn document) with vouching documentation attached. Each should have the means and opportunity to raise queries and to ask whatever questions they might have about the disclosure. Each should have time and opportunity to consult with a lawyer should they wish and to sign an indemnity if they do not. It doesn’t matter what process you choose, whether it is mediation in any of its forms, negotiation, collaboration or adversarial, then the exchange of financial statements with vouching documentation on affidavit is built in to all these processes. Not to have exchanged such vouching documentation as well as raising queries and consulting with a lawyer leaves any agreement wide open to challenge in a number of areas going forward. Another problem which frequently arises with DIY divorces is that having paid the money the other party changes his or her mind half way through and decides that they are not consenting after all and accordingly, that money is entirely wasted. Like I say for some people they work but the vast majority of people have property of some sort, income needs and children and accordingly, in those situations they are an exceptionally ill-advised choice.
It is seldom that family lawyers see a case in family law that is entirely issueless. It is also seldom that family lawyers see a case where there is no anger or bitterness and both parties are working with their higher instincts and clear heads to the fore. Few people marry without emotion and few exit without emotion. Where there are families, there are complications. Families are messy. Not all issues are to do with finances, they can be, and frequently are, to do with children and extended family, the choices the other party has made or is making, lost opportunities, lost futures, mental health in the broadest sense of both children and parents, resistance to change as well as the usual financial issues, child support, spousal support, family homes, other properties, pensions, life insurance, investments and savings. It is extremely hard to see how a mathematical equation would deal with this lot. It is also extremely hard to see how such a mathematical equation would result in anything except gross injustice to some parties. How would a mathematical equation deal with people who are unable to work for any number of reasons such as age or infirmity? How would an equation handle the parents of a special needs child or any one of many situations which would not conform to a mathematical equation? And what about child abuse, domestic abuse, extended family issues, child mental health difficulties, parental mental health difficulties and so on and so forth?
Because families are messy and with few exceptions, breakups are painful, there is often a breakdown of trust arising out the separation and an intense toxicity in the communication or lack of it. This is why many family lawyers have embraced Alternative Dispute Resolution as it affords people an opportunity to work with lawyers acting together rather than against one another and for the parties. They also have the benefit of a trained collaborative professional who has a professional background in psychotherapy/psychology/counselling and with whose assistance, both with and without the lawyers, the parties can deal with their emotions and communication issues enabling them to deal better with their financial problems. ADR solicitors feel that this offers clients a space to deal with their sea of emotions while at the same time ensuring that whatever deals they make are scrutinised by lawyers whose role is to ensure continuity for their family albeit in new circumstances, promote inter- partes communication and ensure equity for all given their particular circumstances. A bit different from a mathematical equation and highly skilled work deserving of reasonable remuneration.
It is my experience that DIY sites are very mixed in the quality of service provided. Without some knowledge it is hard to gauge the value of what is on offer. It makes no sense to buy something on bargain basement if it does not meet any need that you have. I wonder if Mr Linekar knew about the alternative ways of resolving divorce? We would have been happy to help him here in Cork in exchange for the kind of publicity in favour of collaboration that his ludicrous remarks about resolving divorce by mathematical equations is garnering but it seems that he has trusted his affairs into the hands of a person who charges £400 – you be the Judge!