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 fourth and final blog in relation to the Guidance.
Duration and Independence
In this blog, the duration of provision for needs and the transition to independence is considered.
The Report expects most cases to support independence rather than lifelong support, although this is not appropriate in all cases. If spousal maintenance is required, then the court must consider whether the term should be extendable or non-extendable. The court should also consider terminated obligations at the earliest point, but this should not be done at the expense of a fair result, and termination must be based on evidence and not ‘crystal ball glazing’!
Most cases, therefore, will be suitable for a clean break but not at the expense of a fair result. Parties may have to suffer hardship but not an undue hardship. The court will assess undue hardship when looking at the duration of the marriage and whether children are involved.
Only a small percentage of cases have ongoing term or lifelong support. If there is a fixed term of maintenance, then the court must decide whether the term can be extended. If a party decides they need to extend the term, a fresh analysis of the need must be undertaken. The court could step down maintenance orders. Again, each case must be decided on its own facts and merits so the court’s broad discretion will continue, notwithstanding the examples given in the Report. There is a list of factors the court should consider, whether joint lives or term orders – which are not necessarily contained in the legislation.
This Report was commissioned for the Judiciary as this area of law is very complex and fact-specific. For litigations in person, the guides in Sorting out Finances on Divorce and A Survival Guide to Sorting out your finances when you get divorced are helpful, but again, such guides being published highlight the complexity of finances on divorce. You should, therefore, seek legal advice based on your case’s facts. Decisions made now will have medium and long-term future implications for you and your family.
Anthony Jones is Head of Family and is a Resolution Accredited Specialist. For more information or a second opinion, please contact him on 0161 641 4555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org