Should sports stars stick to being sports stars? Easier to get married than divorced?

Gary brought his own experiences, emotion and psychological baggage to the mix he recently proclaimed to Radio Times; “It’s very easy to get married and very difficult to get divorced” and that “lawyers try to manipulate it to make you spend more money and basically end up hating each other”. He thinks there “should be a mathematical equation that goes straight to the courts and they sort it out”.

So is it easier to get married than divorced?

Procedurally to marry there is a requirement to give notice at your local register office and then wait at least 28 days before the ceremony. Yet that is not all there is to it as any bride and groom planning a wedding are fully aware of. A lot of time, effort and money go into the arrangements. This contrasts with a divorce where there are three sets of paperwork but the forms are simple and the court fee is £550 to issue the divorce.

Gary is really talking about the reorganisation of the financial arrangements upon divorce and the cost involved in that. So is a formula possible? Any reorganisation has to meet the responsibilities of each particular divorcing couple and their children. Aiming for equality is a starting point but this does not mean 50/50. Needs of a spouse with a lesser earning capacity, children, offsetting of pensions, looking at capital introduced or taken out of the marriage, second marriages, short marriages and these start to complicate matters. A formula could give a fixed result but inevitably could not cover all circumstances and someone somewhere would then complain about the formula being unfair to them.

The law requires the court to have regard to all the circumstances of the individual case and to exercise the discretion of the court to do justice to the parties. Divorce Courts are able to approve a fair settlement documented in a Consent Order, submitted on paper and without a court hearing. The costs of a solicitor preparing this, arranging signature and approval by the court will be based on a few hours work.

Reasons why a formula does not work

A formula cannot assist families in some circumstances or without the information to input to the formula:-

  1. Where there is a dispute over the value of an asset- a property, pension, business.
  2. Where there is not a full and frank disclosure of assets by both spouses.
  3. Where there is an imbalance of power between the spouses with one in control.
  4. Where one spouse does not cooperate.
  5. Where the arrangement is not practical due to mortgage or credit problems.

The court financial remedy process has a number of stages to overcome the issues that can arise. Using a good solicitor can save you money by ensuring you get what you are due and don’t lose more than you should.

If I was Gary’s lawyer I would ensure the agreement is properly drawn up to give him a clean break and protection against any future claims arising out of the marriage. As a man of his money and circumstances I would not risk my financial future to go cheap. So should he be his own “expert” lawyer or stick to what he knows best? What is certain is that he is not qualified to be a Solicitor nor to be accredited by Resolution whose family lawyer members commit to resolving disputes in a non-confrontational way. I leave it to the reader to decide what they would choose.