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Ministry of Justice publishes new guidance for divorcing couples

Date:19 OCT 2015
New guidance published by the Ministry of Justice last week aims to help couples in the midst of stressful divorce litigation arrange their finances easily, and provides helpful information for those supporting divorcing couples.

Prepared by the Family Justice Council and designed by Advicenow, the 'Sorting out your finances when you get divorced' guide allows a separating couple to more clearly understand a judge’s actions when making decisions regarding finance, as well as reach fair out-of-court agreements. Useful and coherent advice is also given for litigants in person to make use of in court by giving concise overviews of the law and detailed explanations of issues such as maintenance, housing and pensions, which are likely to arise.

The new guidance, using plain and simple English to clarify but not patronise, looks to:
  • provide information about financial settlements for couples who are getting divorced or ending a civil partnership;
  • explain what a judge would take into account and weigh up in their mind when making financial orders when a couple divorces; and
  • help people understand more about what a judge might do in a case, so that they have a better chance of making a fair agreement with their ex-partners.
Those who are not directly involved in the proceedings but are offering support to the couple in question, for example court-based Personal Support Unit volunteers, mediators and friends and relatives, are also given information within the guidance in order to be fully informed of what happens during divorce proceedings.

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division in England and Wales, praised the guide’s ability to provide helpful advice to those representing themselves in court:

‘I am delighted to recommend the latest in a series of guides designed to help Litigants in Person who may be confronting the seemingly daunting prospect of negotiating their own agreements in the context of divorce and family breakdown.

It provides a succinct summary of the law for those who cannot afford legal advice to reach financial agreements without the need for protracted court proceedings.’
With self-representation in court by litigants on the rise, the arrival of this new guidance (and, it is hoped, more like it) will be all the more appreciated by those undergoing divorce proceedings in the UK.