The Family Justice Council published the Guidance on Financial Needs on Divorce in June 2016 but is it really going to help?
This is my first blog in relation to the Guidance.
What’s it for?
The idea is that the guide will assist Judges when they use their flexible and discretionary judgment when dividing matrimonial assets – but why do Judges need this? Surely they know what they are doing, don’t they? Well, they do, but as Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division puts it ‘The consensus view was that its distribution nationally will be of significant assistance to judges without in any way diminishing the fundamental importance of judicial discretion.’
In the introduction, the Guide refers to three areas of concern:
- Unacceptable regional disparities
- No statutory definition of needs
- More litigants in person and the need to manage their expectations.
It’s a Guide!
First and foremost – it is a guide. The law on resolving matrimonial finances is highly discretionary and fact specific. The Guide explains, ‘…guidance of this type cannot deal with every case, and that there may be some exceptional cases where this guidance would not necessarily produce a fair result or clear answer. In such cases, there is no substitute for the exercise of judicial discretion….’
It encourages a consistent use of the court’s discretion and is not designed to change the law. So, it will hopefully assist the profession and the judiciary – it is certainly worth a read!
In the next part, we will look at the law and the overall objective.
Anthony Jones is Head of Family and is a Resolution Accredited Specialist. For more information, please contact him on 0161 641 4555 or email email@example.com