In April 2022, the Divorce, Dissolution, and Separation Act 2020 became law, allowing spouses to divorce without having to place blame on anyone for the breakdown of the marriage. This is called a “no-fault divorce”. At the time this act became law, members of the House of Lords were told by Lord Wolfson that the law which dictated the financial arrangements would be reviewed by the government ‘within a matter of weeks‘. This was a year ago.
Justice Minister, Lord Bellamy told peers during a Lord’s debate that given there will be a 50th anniversary of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 this year; this was an “opportune“ time for a review. Bellamy further said the government was in close consultation with the Law Commission. There will be two phases in which the law will be looked at. The initial phase will identify the problems and comparative studies will be made. Typically, this is followed by a consultation phase in which all stakeholders’ views are fully taken into account. This results in a final recommendation and possibly draft legislation. These two phases will probably take at least two years. Is this too long?
Baroness Deech led calls to reform the law by reintroducing the controversial bill in 2021. Some practitioners view that the law is hopelessly out of date, as it is 50 years old, and that whilst judges have made good decisions in attempting to address 21st-century life, there is an unpredictability around how financial settlements are determined. This will only be resolved with a reform to the financial provision laws.
The future of family law now hangs in the balance.