The statutory criteria to decide what is a fair financial settlement on divorce comes from the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 now almost 50 years old. In reality it derives from judge made law. This has the benefit of being responsive and able to change. It has the disadvantage that there is no public or policy input into the law or changes in the law. It has the significant difficulty that by reference to almost unfettered discretion with propensity for contradictions or nuances in the judge made law it encourages litigation and discourages early settlement.
David Hodson has proposed to the Law Commission in its request for topics for its 14th programme of reform that there should be a review of the criteria for fair and appropriate financial settlements. This sets out his proposals for the need for reform. It is in a question-and-answer process as required by the Law Commission for any submissions. It would be very helpful to hear from other lawyers and members of the public with their opinions on whether reform is needed and far more problematical what that reform should be.
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