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Gary Lineker on Divorce - Deadly Strike or Own Goal?

View profile for Simon Craddock
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When – arguably - England’s greatest ever football striker, excellent TV football pundit and advertiser of a well known crisp company, Gary Lineker, speaks, people listen!

His latest foray is an attack on the divorce system. Gary, having been divorced twice, said in a recent Radio Times article that “family lawyers deliberately manipulate it to make you spend more money and basically end up hating each other”. Strong words from the once prolific striker but is this a fair attack or can a defence be made?

From a man who was never booked during his professional career let alone sent off, Gary was certainly the victim of dirty tackles. Family lawyers in the UK who specialise in this area will have, from time to time, suffered a crunching tackle from the opposition.  

Like all professions, family law is not immune from having ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’. In an age of instant gratification and the obsession in the Press of high profile/wealthy divorces, there is more reason than ever for people to question how the divorce system works.

Even very well paid QC’s now turned High Court Judges in the Family Division are seeking to regulate some excessive fees paid, especially in London - probably the equivalent of Wayne Rooney retiring and then saying footballers get paid too much.

The vast majority of family lawyers in the UK do not deal with “money making” high finance/high profile divorces with Russian oligarchs, big football stars etc. We deal with a mixture of all areas of family law and most financial cases are resolved by need, i.e. is there enough money to buy a house to ensure that the children have a roof over their heads?

The attack by Gary Lineker, whilst wide ranging, fails to acknowledge good work from organisations such as Resolution (formerly the Solicitors Family Law Association) (working as a hard working, family law, midfield player covering all areas and trying to get the message out that not all family disputes have to end up costing a lot of money in high profile court proceedings).

The government itself has sought to ensure that (apart from domestic violence cases) before cases go to court the person has to consider mediation before issuing financial or Children Act proceedings. The Family Mediation Council will have ample examples of people who felt the pain and suffering of a separation but are pleased that they sought an amicable arrangement through mediation.

There is also collaborative law where the parties sign a Participation Agreement saying that they will not go to court on finances or children matters and will sit together to sort out arrangements for the best interests of the children and themselves. Some firms have also ventured into the area of employing counsellors to assist clients.

For every case that can be sorted out by mediation and collaborative law there are always cases that go to court, often through no fault of the client. Hopefully though, the above examples show that on this occasion, whilst as an avid football fan and lover of English football I am loathe to criticise you Gary, you have gone for the man (or the woman) Gary, not the ball!

If you would like to discuss a divorce or any of the issues mentioned in this blog, please contact a member of our Family team.