Henry’s comments were published in International Business Times UK, 22 March 2023, and can be found here.
Following the news that the UK government is set to review the law that determines how financial assets are split after divorce, Senior Partner Henry Hood raised concerns that the review fails to consider the most pressing issues facing couples ending their relationship, particularly the rights of cohabiting couples.
Henry said the time the government has set aside to review the 1973 Matrimonial Act would be better spent reviewing the way marital status impacts the right to claim financial assets. According to him, the issue most in need of remedy is the fact that cohabiting couples cannot claim a share of their ex-partner’s wealth, whereas couples who are married or in a civil partnership can.
He is particularly concerned about partners who “sacrificed” themselves financially by primarily taking care of their children.
He stated that the current law does not reflect the large number of couples in the UK who are choosing to live together without formalising their relationship. “Surely what happens in the event of relationship breakdown should reflect the views of society as they change,” he said.
“The inability of the law to address this is a glaring hole in the available legislation,” Hood added.
Hood said that any changes to the arrangements could lead to an “unjust” outcome.
“Every case is different and an algorithm cannot deal with every eventuality. Our system allows a bespoke solution to every case,” he said. A standardised approach to separating funds would not consider the particular circumstances, such as where one party has shouldered more of the domestic burden.
“Whilst a formulaic approach to determining financial provision on divorce would be cheaper for clients, one can query whether it would be fairer,” Hood added.