Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Matrimonial Property, Needs and Agreements consultation opens

The Law Commission's Matrimonial Property, Needs and Agreements consultation has opened today. The consultation is supplementary to the Marital Property Agreements consultation and considers two aspects of the law relating to the financial consequences of divorce and of the dissolution of civil partnership:
(1) the law relating to financial needs on divorce and dissolution; and
(2) the legal status of “non-matrimonial property”.
In relation to financial needs, the consultation will recommend both a reform of the law and what further work needs to be done before the law is changed, for example by way of research and piloting. The reformed law will provide "an objective, to tell the courts and the parties what is to be achieved by provision for needs", for which the consultation paper discusses three options:
1. Compensation for needs generated by the relationship.

2. Support to enable a transition to independence.

3. Support for a limited time so as to create incentives for independence.
The paper goes on to ask whether financial support should continue to be determined by the court, at the judge’s discretion, or whether it should be calculated by reference to a formula.

As to non-matrimonial property, the paper asks questions about:
(1) the definition of non-matrimonial property;

(2) whether there should be a rule that it is not shared;

(3) whether that rule should be subject to the further rule that it must be shared if it is required to meet needs; and

(4) whether non-matrimonial property can ever become matrimonial, either by the passage of time or because it has been sold and replaced or has appreciated in value as a result of investment or management by either party.
In an avalanche of information media, the Law Commission has provided us with a video introducing the project:

... a 25 minute podcast "where Professor Cooke, the Law Commissioner responsible for this area of law reform, discusses some of the issues raised by the paper" (accredited with 0.5 hours CPD by the Bar Council):

(if you can't see the audio player above, you can listen to the podcast here)

... a shorter executive summary, a comprehensive summary, and a "more technical summary for lawyers".

The consultation paper itself is here.

The consultation closes on the 11th December, and consultees may if they wish respond using this template.

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