The Law Commission has published a supplementary consultation paper as part of its project examining a number of different aspects of the law relating to the financial consequences of divorce and of the dissolution of civil partnership.
'Matrimonial Property, Needs and Agreements' is a supplemental consultation because it follows on from the Commission’s January 2011 Consultation Paper Marital Property Agreements. That paper examined the legal status of financial agreements made by husbands, wives and civil partners – often known as “pre-nups” and “post-nups”.
According to the Commission, the supplementary consultation is necessary because the current legal position regarding financial provision on divorce is unclear and inaccessible. There is also evidence of regional inconsistencies, with different outcomes favoured in different courts. The uncertainty in the law has given rise to dissatisfaction, as has its obscurity, and both those factors are increasingly causes for concern in an era when access to legal advice is going to be more limited following reform of legal aid.
The consultation is seeking views on two specific aspects of the law:
- to what extent one spouse should be required to meet the other’s financial needs, and what exactly is meant by needs; and
- what happens to property that one of the partners owned before the relationship or acquired during the course of it.
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