Press reports suggest BBC sports presenter Gary Lineker favours a ‘mathematical equation to simplify costly divorce proceedings’. Having recently concluded an entirely amicable parting from his ex-partner, Danielle Bux, Lineker disclosed his online DIY settlement was achieved for ‘around £400’, and called for the introduction of a formula approach to curb legal costs and reduce the complexity of the process.
Lower Divorce Costs Would Be Welcome, But Not Often Achievable
Whilst any change resulting in the low-cost resolution of an uncontested divorce and a prompt decree nisi would be very welcome, the practical realities are somewhat different. Despite valiant initiatives such as the Family Law Act 1996, marriage break-up legislation is still widely perceived as a thinly-veiled attempt to apportion blame.
And further pressure is applied once couples realise any proposed financial settlement may significantly reduce their chances of a comfortable postnuptial standard of living. Consequently, what begins as an uncontested divorce can soon descend into an embittered contest to secure the best possible financial resolution.
The Lineker Formula Could Work In Some Cases
The ‘Lineker formula’ may work where partners still share a mutual respect and believe neither will suffer financially. But how will it help when violent behaviour is an issue and negotiations are just too risky? And how might it deter a spouse intent on concealing financial information to gain a crucial advantage?
Those with more substantial assets would fare no better. A diverse portfolio of private wealth, commercial assets and global investments, plus family and inheritance issues may well have taken generations to assemble and, however carefully designed, an algorithm leading to a more-affordable decree nisi would lack the financial and legal sophistication necessary to produce an equitable solution.
Furthermore, it is hard to see how this type of streamlined arrangement might tackle the drafting of appropriate documentation on which the divorcing parties would subsequently have to rely.
Sandra Sinclair, our Family Law expert had this to say:
“Gary and Danielle obviously were very fortunate to have mutual trust and respect for each other in reaching a settlement that they considered fair to both of them. Sadly, the vast majority of cases are not like that. The job of the lawyer would be much easier if they were and costs would be considerably less as a consequence. Applying a mathematical formula “to what” would still be the germane question”.
So the real weakness of the mathematical proposal is its failure to accommodate routine divorce complexities, leaving just a narrow band of cases in which a formula could be applied.
For the rest, the existing legal route remains the best guarantee of a just and fair outcome.