11th Aug 2017

Is anyone worth that much?

As UK clubs gear up for the start of the 25th Premier League season, sports headlines have been dominated by news from Europe, with details of Neymar’s £200million move from FC Barcelona to PSG being a talking point.

A vast amount of money by any standards, much of the discussion in the office has been over whether any player, however good, is worth it. All sorts of calculations have been done as to what you could buy or build with that sort of cash – schools, hospitals or simply donations to good causes. But how on earth can one footballer – no matter how gifted – ever justify such a price tag?

Assessing financial worth 

Personally, I have no issue with a player cashing in on what, for him personally, is an extremely good deal. Can any of us in all honesty say that we would turn down the opportunity to earn £650,000 per week net? I am sure we would all be, at the very least, greatly tempted. But, living back in the ‘real world’, I do find it hard to see that the fee can be justified in any way whatsoever.

“Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves” I was taught as a young child. That still applies and, within reason, the same approach should also be taken if a couple are separating. 

Safeguarding a financial settlement

The money that either partner has may in the past have run one house reasonably comfortably, but after divorce will of course need to stretch to run two households. Ensuring that ‘pot’, therefore comes through the divorce process as undiminished as possible can have real implications for a future lifestyle. Even if you are relatively well off, your assets are going to diminish and it is likely there will be some reduction in your standard of living. It is an inevitable consequence of divorce or separation.

It’s an issue which, in recent years the courts have rightly raised – repeatedly criticising parties for excessive spending on legal costs. They are quite correct to do so, as the money a divorcing couple spend on lawyer’s fees is the same money that could be used to meet the challenges in new, separate lives. It could, perhaps, even be spent on the children rather than arguing about them.

Reducing family law costs

There will always be times when an individual must fight for their rights, but as many lawyers recognise, there are many cases where a sensible approach which seeks to minimise conflict – the driver of excessive client costs – is preferable.

In many ways, the tendency towards conflict is understandable – people are so emotionally caught up in the trauma of separation that sometimes reason goes out of the window. Lawyers who are members of Resolution, the family lawyers “trade association”, are committed to dealing with divorce and separation in a non-confrontational manner and seeking a constructive forward focused approach.

Even better, use a collaborative family lawyer as collaborative lawyers, together with their clients, sign a formal agreement not to litigate issues but commit to finding a solution round the table, face to face. Couples involved in a collaborative divorce can rest assured that they will retain control and both they and their respective lawyers are all doing their best to find a solution. That in itself will reduce the legal costs you spend on separating. Solutions are far more likely to be found if everyone is in the same place and having to talk to each other. 

Everybody has their price, Neymar’s is perhaps a touch above else’s, and there is an inevitable cost to divorce and separation. But be sensible about it, try to look forward rather than back and explore less confrontational means of resolving your differences - that way everyone benefits and there will be more money to meet everyone’s needs.

Described in industry directories as "a top collaborative lawyer", Stephen Root is a Director and Family Lawyer at Berwins with over 30 years of legal expertise. 

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