Several people around the UK are getting separated or divorced. Additionally, family life and relationship dynamics have changed in recent times and concerns have been raised as to whether the current system applies a fair and just principles in light of these changes.

The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and Civil Partnership Act 2004 is the current law applicable in proceedings for divorce, ending civil partnerships and financial remedy orders, however after 50 years, the current legal framework will finally be reviewed and a detailed analysis on assessing whether the current system is adequate and in line with the current societal needs will be prepared. There will be a scoping report, which will be published in September 2024. The scoping papers are part of a ‘pre-consultation’ phase and a consultation on proposed reforms is unlikely to appear until at least 2025.

The Law Commission will consider specific areas for potential reform and conduct the necessary analysis of the existing law. The following are some of the areas they will carefully consider:

  1. To determine discretionary powers given to judges regarding division of financial assets and whether there is a need for a clear set of principles, enshrined in law to provide more certainty to couples involved in divorce proceedings.
  2. Whether wider powers should be given to courts to enable them to make orders in respect of children over the age of 18.
  3. Reform of maintenance payments for an ex-spouse or civil partner.
  4. Consider behaviours of parties involved in financial remedy proceedings and for the courts to consider this when making orders.
  5. Review of pension orders and consideration of whether they have been overlooked in the division of assets between the divorced parties.
  6. Factors for judges to consider when deciding any financial remedy orders.

In addition to the above areas, the Law Commission will also consider reforms required not just in the UK but also in other countries. The purpose of the analysis is to assess and determine whether the current law is effectively working and delivering a fair and consistent outcome for divorcing couples.

It is hoped that the review will lead to significant reforms by minimising the risk of conflict, uncertainty and financial strain between the separating parties and that an improvement to the current system will be implemented, leading to a reduction in the stressful ordeal that many parties have to go through during this process.

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