The Law Commission made a number of recommendations in its final report on Matrimonial Property, Needs and Agreements when it was published in February 2014.
It included a call for clarification of the law defining financial needs on divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership in order to encourage greater consistency in financial settlements. The Commission also proposed the introduction of a form of pre-nuptial agreement to be known as a ‘Qualifying Nuptial Agreement’ which would essentially allow couples to enter into a legally binding agreement that would determine the division and disposal of their assets on the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership.
Crucially however, the terms of the agreement would apply only after each spouse’s respective needs, as well as the needs of any children, had been met and would not affect those basic principles enshrined in current financial settlements.
Whilst that would have been a welcome clarity for many marrying couples, the Government has declined to respond so far to the recommendations and with the introduction of the new online divorce service in April 2018, the Ministry of Justice seems to be simplifying the process of divorce, but only in cases where all matters have been agreed between the parting spouses.
We await further developments with interest and in the meantime continue to advise our clients on the options open to them based on their own circumstances.