The Law Commission has launched a review of the laws which govern the division of assets following a divorce or dissolution. It has been 50 years since the passage of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, paralleled in the Civil Partnership Act 2004, which remains the leading legislation for couples at the end of their marriage or civil partnership.
The breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership can be emotionally draining, even more so when attempting to reach a fair financial settlement over the division of family assets. Many have argued that this legislation lacks clarity for couples which results in costly litigation. The review is to consider and analyse specific areas such as;
The discretionary powers given to judges over the division of financial assets, whether there is a need for a clear set of principles, enshrined in law, to give more certainty to divorcing couples.
Whether there should be wider powers given to the courts to make orders for children over the age of eighteen.
How maintenance payments for an ex-spouse or civil partner should work.
What consideration the courts should give to the behaviour of separating parties when making financial remedy orders.
Orders relating to pensions and whether they are overlooked when dividing the divorcing parties’ assets.
The structure of the system for making regular financial payments from one person to another after divorce.
The factors judges must consider when deciding which, if any, financial remedy orders to make.
Given that the legislation is now 50 years old the Law Commission will carry out an analysis to determine whether law reform is required and what that may look like. It is expected that the Law Commission will report their findings in September 2024, that report could include future financial remedies reform.
A financial remedy order is the order which reflects the parties’ separation of assets. Financial remedy orders can include, but not limited to, the sale and transfer of property, maintenance for spouses, civil partners and children, and the splitting of pensions.
The review is the very first stage of a long process in terms of a reform, which may be implemented dependant on the findings of the report. The laws of England and Wales are ever changing, and it is important to know to correct current law by taking professional legal advice in a timely manner to avoid unnecessary costs.
Our family law experts will be keeping a close eye on any updates to legislation as we continue to advise separating couples during their divorce and division of assets. To speak to a family law specialist today please call 0845 287 0939, contact us by email, or use the online chat below.