The Law Commission has announced a targeted review of two key aspects of the law that enable married couples and civil partners to claim financial provision from one another on divorce or dissolution of their partnership.
Disputes over finances and property between separating spouses or civil partners can lead to misery and expense. Although many couples can be helped to reach agreement over the sharing of assets, the Courts retain very broad powers to redistribute the parties’ property and income.
A key factor that the Court must take into account is the parties’ financial “needs”. The meaning of “needs” in this context has created uncertainty and confusion. Just how far should one spouse be required to meet the other’s needs after their marriage or civil partnership ends? Sometimes it will be appropriate that a wife receives maintenance for herself; in other cases assets may be split between the couple without any maintenance being paid at all.
What about providing for needs later in life? A pension may be the largest marital asset and pension sharing may be the right thing for some couples, but not suitable at all for others. It’s vitally important to consider all the options and obtain expert advice to ensure that financial needs are met in the correct way.
This review is an extension to the Law Commission’s existing project; considering marital property agreements – pre-nuptial, post-nuptial and separation agreements. These are agreements made between couples before or during their marriage or civil partnership – dealing with their property and finances – should they decide to divorce or dissolve their partnership.
The Commission aim to publish a detailed consultation paper later this year and a final report during 2013.
If you want to know more about the legal issues around divorce and separation then contact a member of our Family team on 01625 442100.