Gary Lineker has been hitting the headlines recently for suggesting that there should be a universal formula for financial settlements during a divorce.
This is a question that regularly raises its head during debates around family law and it is generally raised by those who feel that the current system is inherently unfair as it relies on the opinion of family court judges.
It is a nice idea, that when couples divorce there is a pre-arranged formula that will determine who gets what and who will continue to pay what. This would make the whole process, clean, quick and cheap.
Unfortunately, divorce involves real, complicated lives and not just a pot of money and in all our years of working in divorce, we have never met the same situation twice, rendering a formula completely unfeasible.
There are many different ‘pots of money’ that are involved when two people split, these include the family home, family cars, income, pensions, savings, contributions to bills, childcare, capital assets and investments. These are just a few.
A 50/50 split seems fair to most people, but that does not take into account who brought in what to the marriage, who earned the most and who will need to pay out the most for the children.
As you can see, things are already getting complicated.
There then comes the problem of trade-offs, which often happen in divorce cases. For example, one person may keep the family home and therefore receive less of another asset, as not everything can be split 50/50.
However, the main concern for judges in family law courts is that of child welfare. When there are children involved, the children and their welfare come first. Ensuring the main carer has sufficient means to support the children and minimise disruption to their education.
At Grant Stephens Family Law in Cardiff we do our utmost to ensure our clients stay out of the courts and can reach their settlement through mediation or collaborative law. However, in the family courts it is our job to ensure the judge fully understands the financial and emotional needs of our client and to ensure a fair settlement is reached.
Family court judges have many different factors to juggle and treat each case individually. This can cause perceived unfairness, especially if one party comes away with a much worse deal than they were expecting. However, unless things drastically change, there is no formula that can be created to make divorce ‘fair.’
The most important thing is to ensure you have good legal representation and fully prepare for every eventuality.