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Hunters Law
20th March 2023

The wrong choice in divorce reform?

The wrong choice in divorce reform?
Henry Hood
Henry Hood
Senior Partner

The broadsheets carried the news today that a justice minister will ask the Law Commission to consider whether the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 requires updating in its provisions governing financial orders to be made on the dissolution of marriage. 

While undoubtedly old, the Common Law has allowed the provisions of the 1973 Act to keep reasonably up to date such that, e.g: its application in relation to marital assets now is entirely different to what it was a generation ago, and the manner in which maintenance is dealt with has also been able to live and breathe and kept in line with how life is led. It does no obvious injustice. 

The same, however, cannot be said for the provision (or lack thereof) for the many cohabiting partners where there is neither a marriage nor a Civil Partnership in place. There, real injustice lurks, which should be the focus of whatever legislative time can be found. The Law Commission would not need to be bothered; there is already a substantial consensus as to what is needed, there is draft legislation already in place, and there is the example of Scotland which has had such legislative protections since as long ago as 2006. Those are the steps that are really needed and they are the higher priority.