Unregulated Divorces: Why Gary Lineker is calling for reform

For any couple or family, divorce is never an easy thing to deal with. Aside from the emotional strain and concerns about the dramatic changes it will make to your life, there’s a lot of financial uncertainty for both parties. We’ve written in previous posts about the kind of things you should consider when entering divorce proceedings, but what exactly are the benefits of having a solicitor?

Gary Lineker has made headlines recently after claiming that there is simply none! He has scorned many family legal practitioners, lawyers and solicitors alike by claiming that they are no more than sharks feeding off of the remains of broken marriages.

We at Hylton Potts like to be as straight-talking as possible with our clients, so if you’re thinking about getting divorced, or you’re about to start the proceedings, hopefully this article will help to explain what unregulated divorce providers are, and help you to understand why having a solicitor by your side can often be a blessing.

What’s the story?

The last thing that parting couples need is a solicitor who is “on the clock” so to speak, bent on maximising the time it takes to resolve the end of their marriage in order to increase their own fees. This is what Gary Lineker has recently accused many solicitors and divorce lawyers of doing however, when he launched a scathing attack which provoked a nationwide response.

He told the press: “It’s very easy to get married and very difficult to get divorced, and we know that lawyers try to manipulate it to make you spend more money and basically end up hating each other. I think there should be a mathematical equation that goes straight to the courts and they sort it out.”

Gary Lineker was very open about his own divorce dealings, after he and his second wife, model and actress Danielle Bux, decided to split after six years. He is claimed to be worth around £20 million, but as the pair wanted to split amicably and quickly, they opted for the use of a government website to formalise their divorce instead.

The online divorce site the pair used cost only around £400, saving the couple tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees. Gary Lineker’s case clearly demonstrates a lack of faith in today’s legal system and indeed solicitors, as more people are opting for the unregulated online divorce option, or “DIY divorce” as they have become known. But what exactly are they?

What are unregulated divorces?

Unregulated online divorce providers operate a small percentage of the market, but they have grown in recent years as people’s trust in the regulated system has declined. Put simply, they are providers that are not attached to a regulating body to ensure certain standards and procedures are handled in a specific way, and membership of any self-regulatory bodies is low in this sector.

For your average married couple, they present a different offering to the conventional court proceedings, with services including DIY, assisted, managed and solicitor managed divorces for fixed fees. These prices range from £36 for a DIY package, to £362 for solicitor managed.

They only currently operate around 10-13% of the market according to recent research, but they have become more popular with couples due to three main reasons: they have lower prices than regulated providers, they often have higher levels of transparency in pricing, and they have higher levels of service differentiation.

However, many regulated providers have warned that there are certain downsides. Law Society Chief Executive Catherine Dixon, commented: “Many legal services can be provided by regulated and unregulated providers. If legal services are purchased from a solicitor, buyers can rest assured that the service is fully regulated, that insurance is in place, and that in the event that something goes wrong they have the right to redress.”

In other words, there is a level of insurance that comes with using a regulated provider over many unregulated websites, so it’s essential that you look into this if considering the latter.

What’s the right option for me?

For couples who have mutually agreed to split, who feel that the situation is amicable, and who even in some circumstances may choose to remain friends, then these unregulated divorces may seem like a reasonable option. However, it is a sad fact that for the majority of couples undergoing divorce proceedings, this is not the case.

There are several situations where divorces can become far more difficult to handle, both legally and emotionally. For example, in cases where there is no pre-nuptial agreement or post-nuptial agreement in place, and where there is any kind of disagreement over the terms of the divorce, it can be very difficult for the couple themselves to make any headway with the legal side of things. Unable to separate themselves from the situation or mediate it to reach a fair conclusion, it can often leave couples in distress.

In such circumstances, the advice and legal guidance of a good lawyer or solicitor can be invaluable, and will make all the difference to both the speed of the proceedings and the eventual outcome. Although it might seem like Gary Lineker has been slighted by some divorce lawyers, at Hylton-Potts, we make a point of being different.

On the one hand, we have never tried to manipulate divorce proceedings to make our clients spend more money on costly meetings, and other unnecessary formalities. We make a point of being as clear and transparent as possible about our fees, and these can all be viewed on our website.

You’ll notice that we also provide a fixed-fees service, meaning that you can rest assured that there will be no nasty surprises when you receive your legal bill, nor will there be any unnecessary delays designed to increase the time and expense of your divorce.

If you’re about to start divorce proceedings and you’re unsure of the right route to take, the best thing to do is start with some professional advice. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like more information; you can call us on 020 7381 8111, or via email at [email protected].

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