The end of a marriage is never an easy thing to contemplate or, indeed, to reflect upon. Regardless of whether the relationship was long or short or whether the process followed emotional fireworks or was handled rather more amicably, people can understandably emerge from it feeling rather bruised.
Those who’ve been through the experience are often sought out for views which might guide others in a similar position. Their opinions are, naturally, also of interest to lawyers whose role it is to advise and support couples facing up to lives as ex-husbands and wives.
It’s why my eyes were drawn to the comments of the former England footballer-turned-television presenter Gary Lineker who divorced for the second time earlier this year.
In an interview with the Radio Times seized upon by numerous national newspapers (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/25/gary-lineker-calls-for-mathematical-equation-to-simplify-costly/), he accused divorce lawyers of being “manipulative” who create “hate” between separating spouses.
Furthermore, he suggested that there should be a “mathematical equation” to simplify the process of divorce and save couples money.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I take issue with what Mr Lineker’s had to say.
I sympathise with anyone whose marriages have come to a close. I particularly applaud those people who, like Mr Lineker and his ex-wife, the model Danielle Bux, appear to have parted on good terms. However and whatever his motive, I believe that he’s quite wrong on a number of points.
During the same interview which has captured the headlines, he described how “it’s very easy to get married and very difficult to get divorced”. As Mr Lineker and Ms Bux now know, that’s not necessarily the case.
It can, of course, be difficult to deal with the emotions involved in divorce but the process itself is actually a rather straightforward administrative exercise.
Most couples, like Gary and Danielle themselves, manage to divorce without any rancour at all. The difficulties only really occur when there are contentious topics, such as children or finances, to deliberate on.
Even then, the job of a divorce lawyer is not to stoke whatever difference of opinion there may be but advise and support a client on the course of action most appropriate to them.
Whilst we might imagine from media coverage that all divorces result in a “courtroom battle”, going before a judge is the very last resort.
For those individuals unable to come to an agreement over the kitchen table or following initial discussions with lawyers, there are the options of collaborative law and mediation, both of which aim to achieve a constructive outcome by discussion alone.
All of those methods can be concluded quickly and fairly cheaply, too. I appreciate Gary Lineker’s pitch (no soccer pun intended!) for an improvement in the system of divorce but I feel that his “mathematical equation” simply wouldn’t work.
The circumstances and dynamics of divorce are as particular as the people going through it. It is not as though, to coin a well-worn phrase, “one size fits all”.
Any extra administration of the sort implied by Mr Lineker’s suggestion would, I’m sure, not exactly be greeted with glee by courts which are already over-burdened either.
Just as he wouldn’t have enjoyed reading unfair reviews of his performances on the sports pages, divorce lawyers never like seeing criticism which we believe to be unwarranted splashed across the front pages either.
It’s true that we are considered something of a necessary evil by some people but, given the situations that we become involved in, we take the ribbing as part of the job.
Despite Gary Lineker’s views being, in my opinion, very much offside, I’d still invite him to chat through his experiences in order to help other couples achieve their goal of a simple, speedy and pain-free divorce.
Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with a family law adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.