Changes to divorce law and matrimonial finances

The Divorce (Financial Provision) Bill has been scheduled to commence its Committee stage in the House of Lords on 23 November 2018. This stage affords the proposed bill to be scrutinised on a line by line basis, in order to consider changes proposed to existing legislation.

The proposed bill, sponsored by Baroness Deech, suggests changes to the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and proposes to set into legislation matters concerning both pre-nuptial agreements and conduct of parties.

The bill is peppered with issues which have concerned the courts increasingly over recent years, which many practitioners have observed judicial inconsistencies at local family court level. These proposed changes include, amongst others:

(a) the court’s powers for the unequal distribution of property will not extend to account for children of the marriage up to the age of 21, rather than 18, reflecting society’s increasing need for financial responsibility towards children after their majority.

(b) pre-nuptial agreements made less than 21 days prior to the date of marriage will not be considered binding.

(c) the parties conduct in relation to proceedings will no longer be considered by the court unless it has “adversely affected the financial resources” or it would be “manifestly inequitable” to ignore the conduct itself.

Whilst clarification and proposed changes to issues affecting married couples is welcomed, as ever, the slow rate of progress in amending legislation is likely to result in unsatisfactory changes to all of society’s needs. There remains a need for urgent review of the law relating to cohabiting couples, the divorce process – both in terms of no fault divorce and the move towards an online procedural process – requires urgent and continuing investment and attention.

Serving Bedford and the surrounding northern villages, together with clients in central London, our lawyers can help you with all your divorce, matrimonial finance disputes, together with all other family law and separation matters.  If you want to speak to one of our specialist solicitors about your divorce, matrimonial finances or available orders, contact us on 01234 889777 or 0207 177 9777 and speak with us today.

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