Supreme Court President: divorce finance bill is “threatening”

President of the Supreme Court Lady Hale has caused a stir by being openly critical of a divorce finance bill currently progressing though parliament.

Speaking at the International Centre for Family Law earlier this month, Lady Hale described the Divorce (Financial Provision) Bill, as “threatening” to the “social security system of the family”.

The bill was introduced by crossbench peer and legal academic Baroness Deech. It has already completed its passage through the House of Lords, and received a first reading in the House of Commons.

If it becomes law, it would make several very significant changes to marital legislation, including:

  • Pre- and postnuptial agreements becoming legally binding.
  • Equal division of marital property following divorce.
  • Limiting spousal maintenance to just five years unless this would cause significant hardship.

Lady Hale contrasted the bill’s ‘one size fits all’ approach with the current system’s focus on the individual circumstances of each family.

“I can see the attractions of all of this when set against the agony, the uncertainty and the expense of seeking our tailor-made solutions. But I question how one size fits all can possible meet the justice of the case or fulfill the role of the family in shouldering the burdens which it has created rather than placing them upon the state.”

She added:

“I fear that it assumes an equality between the spouses which is simply not there in many, perhaps most, cases.”

Lady Hale’s speech was entitled What is a 21st Century Family? Read it here.

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