The Blog

Cheap Splits: Gary Lineker and Scoring a Budget Divorce

You have to hand it to Gary Lineker: great on the pitch, skilled broadcaster and apparently a divorce grand master. Who knew?

The - let us assume - very wealthy star split from his wife Danielle for about £410 (excluding settlement) in a sobering reminder that you don't always need a lawyer on speed dial.

It may also be a trend, the start of what happens when people feel a profession charges too much. Even rich people will vote with their wallets. We shall see if it catches on.

The 'amicable divorce' this seems has, of course, been a staple for some time, with couples promising lasting affection once past the small inconvenience of actually living together.

But the significance here, aside from the familiar mantras, is a celebrity separation achieved without vastly expensive legal outriders, or fuel for much media fuss.

Mr & Mrs Lineker paid to go their own way cleanly and efficiently, unknotting perhaps quite complex financial affairs themselves.

It is an excellent lesson for anyone else contemplating the end of their marriage:If they want to keep assets to themselves, rather than spend some of them on professional fees, then calm is the way forward

The trick is not to focus too much on the 'amicable' stuff at all and instead to be practical. Involving lawyers in the traditional way sets a meter running that can eat into the assets being contested, and at least dresses the stage for litigation.

Mediation, with or without lawyers, can help, and honesty is key. Forensic accountants - me - get called in when someone is suspected of hiding assets, or to help work out how to value, say, a shared business enterprise.

We are another bill, true, but sometimes an unavoidable one. Businesses can be very complex to put a price on, given market vagaries and many different 'books' to go through. But they are often the single biggest asset for couples.

The Linekers, we were told, went online for the documents, but they seem to have reached into themselves for the common sense and everything else.

Inspired by their achievement, here are some Top Tips for Splits:

Go online to the Government's divorce web site and download the forms, or nip into a stationers and buy a set.

Try to reach a consensus about the big stuff and write it down. Agree the marriage is over and how to split assets, child care and pets, then you're a long way down the road

Read up on the subject. People who will spend hours poring over new kitchen brochures balk at doing the same research for a divorce. There are plenty of websites, and lawyers behind many of them to be in touch with directly if necessary.

If you are using a lawyer more fully, try to avoid contacting them too much. They usually charge to read and respond to letters and emails

Do your own paperwork carefully if trying to avoid lawyers altogether, though. Downloading online forms is one thing, presenting them in a way a judge expects to see them can be another. If in doubt, do talk to a lawyer.

There are capital gains tax implications when assets are transferred, by the way. Most people assume that anything switched between a married couple is exempt. But the exemption finishes not at the date of the divorce, but at the end of the tax year when the couple separates.

These should all help. Divorce is hardly a happy event, but the Linekers have shown that it can be one managed without ruinous fees, whatever else has crumbled to dust.