If football pundit Gary Lineker has recently attacked family solicitor fees because they “manipulate” the situation to increase their costs it is probably the thought of giving away all those crisp notes! In any event, his assessment is not borne out by the experience of Wrigley Claydon’s family team.
Mr Lineker’s suggestion of a formula to assist in working out a financial settlement in all cases may be an admirable proposition in principle. However, we all know that the financial background of one married couple can be very different from another and the application of a formula across the board would be problematic.
By contrast the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, which governs financial issues on divorce and civil partnership dissolution, sets out a list of factors the court should consider when addressing financial issues (eg age, earning capacity, contributions, financial resources etc) and all family solicitors will have this in mind when discussing and negotiating matters. This non-exhaustive list gives the court the discretion needed to achieve fairness between the parties. The uncertainty that this may cause has to be seen in the context of the flexible approach that can be applied by the court.
And whatever Mr Lineker might think, the procedure in family cases is governed by the Family Proceedings Rules 2010 which at the outset (rule 1.1) make it clear that the overriding objective is to “deal with cases justly”, which includes dealing with matters expeditiously, proportionately, saving expense and ensuring the parties are on an equal footing.
The massive reduction in legal aid eligibility in family matters has meant that early advice from a specialist is essential.
As family law solicitors we are specialists dealing with people from a variety of backgrounds and can assist our clients in finding their solution during what is probably a difficult time.