There is a Bill (known as the (Divorce Financial Provision) Bill) currently going through Parliament calling for urgent reform to divorce law. Recently, family law has been mostly led by the decisions judges make in cases and has become far removed from the written law which is now forty years old. This has just led to uncertainty and confusion in divorce cases and making it impossible to predict the result of a divorce case.
The Bill addresses a number of areas of the law that need to be reformed:
There is no longer any legal aid in this area which means that low income families are disadvantaged. They are left having to represent themselves with no certain principles to guide them.
At present, prenuptial agreements are enforceable, but not legally binding. However, law reform groups have been campaigning to make prenups binding provided that both parties have had legal advice, made full disclosure of their assets and income and entered the agreement at least three weeks before the marriage.
Read more on the law proposals in our article Prenuptial agreements edging closer to becoming law.
The Bill suggests that the starting point for separating matrimonial assets should be equality, unless there are special circumstances that called for an unequal division.
Under the current law, maintenance payments can be made for life. However, this Bill suggests that maintenance payments should be made purely to enable the financially weaker party to adjust to the change of circumstances and should only last for a maximum period of three years.
The Bill addresses all these issues and proposes a simpler and more certain law system and an end to the flexibility that family law has had to date.
Other countries, including Scotland, have more certain rules about family law. England has become a place where overseas wives come to get more generous settlements and London is known as the ‘divorce capital’ of the world because the law is uncertain and open to a wide degree of interpretation.
Although it's not definite that this Bill is going to become law, it's likely that these areas will be reformed soon as they are firmly on the political agenda.
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Published on: July 9, 2014