A major review into divorce settlements has suggested that a mathematical formula should be used to divide up a couple’s assets. According to the review, divorce settlements could be calculated depending on income and how long the couple have been married.
The Law Commission carried out the review in an attempt to clarify the “uncertain and inconsistent” law. The idea behind the proposed formula is to encourage couples to work out their divorce settlement between themselves, instead of going through potentially lengthy, expensive and stressful court proceedings.
An additional change currently under consideration by the Law Commission is that family homes that have been inherited or were acquired before marriage should not be included in divorce settlements.
The consultation carried out by the Law Commission will lead to a report to government ministers, due in 2013, but would require more work before triggering a draft bill. According to the report, couples who split up are unable to predict how much support they would receive or have to pay after divorce and that this situation could get much worse once legal aid is removed from family cases.
At present it is unclear whether judges are supposed to ensure that the party with the lower income will have and maintain the same living standards they had when married or to give them just enough to start over again.
Current law in England and Wales states that if divorcing or separating couples are unable to agree on how to divide their assets and provide for each other in the future, it is up to a judge to make orders.