We at Hubbard Pegman and Whitney Solicitors understand the importance of keeping up-to-date with changes to family law legislation. That’s why we have been closely following the Law Commission’s review of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, specifically in relation to the division of matrimonial assets.

The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 sets out the law on divorce and the division of assets when a marriage ends. It’s been 50 years since the Act was first introduced and society has changed significantly since then. The review by the Law Commission is therefore a welcome opportunity to modernise the legislation and ensure it reflects the realities of modern-day relationships.

One of the key issues being considered is the way in which matrimonial assets are divided. Currently, the Courts apply a principle of fairness when deciding how to divide assets, taking into account factors such as the length of the marriage, the age and health of the parties, their financial resources and the contributions they have made to the marriage. However, there is no clear definition of what constitutes a fair division of assets, and this can lead to uncertainty and confusion for both parties.

The Law Commission’s review of non-matrimonial property, such as inheritance and gifts is of particular interest. Currently, the law treats all assets acquired during the marriage as matrimonial property, regardless of how they were obtained. This means that a spouse could potentially lose their inheritance in a divorce settlement.

The Law Commission’s proposal is to give the Court the power to decide how much weight to give to non-matrimonial property in a divorce settlement. This would allow the court to take into account the individual circumstances of each case and ensure that assets are divided fairly.

Furthermore, the Law Commission is considering introducing a new statutory framework for the division of assets, which would provide greater clarity and consistency in the way that assets are divided. This could include a set of clear principles or guidelines for the Courts to follow, which would take into account a range of factors, such as the parties’ financial needs, the contributions they have made to the marriage, and any agreements they have reached about the division of assets.

This approach has the potential to provide greater certainty and fairness for both parties, as well as reducing the need for costly and time-consuming litigation. As a practitioner, this would mean that we would be able to give clearer guidance to couples divorcing on how the matrimonial assets could be divided. However, it is important that any new framework strikes the right balance between providing clear guidance to the Courts and allowing them to exercise their discretion in individual cases, taking into account the unique circumstances of each case. This is as every couple and every family is different, and therefore flexibility in the application of law is important.

The Law Commission’s review of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 has a potential impact on prenuptial agreements. Prenups are increasingly popular, but the current law means that they are not always given the weight that parties would like them to have in divorce proceedings. The Law Commission is considering whether prenuptial agreements should be given greater weight in the division of assets.

We’re looking forward to seeing the outcome of the Law Commission’s review and the potential changes to the law that it could bring. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the current law on divorce and the division of assets, or if you are considering a prenuptial agreement, get in touch with us today. Currently, we are offering a free initial telephone consultation with our family team for new enquires. During this call we will tell you what we can do next to get started. Give our family solicitors a call now for a friendly chat on 020 8735 9770 or email our family law department at info@hpwsolicitors.co.uk


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