Divorces to be settled by a mathematical formula?

A major new review by the Law Commission has suggested that divorce settlements should be settled according to a mathematical formula to avoid time-consuming and costly disputes.

The Law Commission has criticised the current legal framework for creating too much uncertainty and inconsistency.

At present the starting point for the Court, in considering a financial settlement, is an equal division of all matrimonial assets. The presumption of equality however is considered against a wide variety of factors such as, amongst others, the financial needs and responsibilities of each party, the standard of living enjoyed in the marriage, the age of the parties and the length of the marriage. These factors are of course highly variable and, it is suggested, can lead to a degree of uncertainty for the parties.

The Law Commission have referred to the mathematical formula adopted by Canada in 2005 which calculates the support due based on the length of the marriage and the difference between the spouses’ incomes.

The Commission are due to publish a report outlining their recommendations for reform, based upon the current consultation, next autumn.

Our view at this stage is that the recommendations are unlikely to be adopted, as having the discretion to consider what is reasonable in each case ensures that all individual factors are taken into account. As each marriage and family is unique, so is the appropriate outcome should the marriage breakdown.

The law relating to family breakdown is complex which highlights once again the importance of competent legal advice in this area. The Family Law team at Blacks are well experienced in assessing each individual case on its merits and advising as to what the Court would consider fair, given our knowledge and expertise in this field.

Paul Lancaster
Partner, Family Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer
Blacks Solicitors LLP

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