A piece by Frances Gibb, Legal Editor, in yesterday’s Times:
Proposals for a five-year limit on maintenance awards in divorce were published yesterday to end huge payouts and massive court costs.
Baroness Deech, a crossbencher, called for a system more like that in Scotland, to end open-ended awards that have made London the divorce capital of the world.
Instead of indefinite maintenance awards, which critics have called a meal ticket for life, her Divorce (Financial Provision) Bill would give guidelines on maintenance and dividing assets. It proposes awarding maintenance for five years, with longer terms only if needed to prevent hardship. [J4MB emphasis. We can be sure gynocentric judges will set the “preventing hardship” bar very high for rich men’s ex-wives.]
The framework would avoid the need for “judge-made law”, which leads to uncertainty and militates against mediation and out-of-court settlements, she said. “Judges are having to intervene, which is not their task, and brings delay,” she said. “There are many accounts of cases where nearly all the assets are wasted on the costs of litigation: in one, a husband was awarded £50,000 but was left with a bill of £490,000 in cost.
“It is more sensible to load the separation of assets in favour of property, pensions and lump sums rather than ongoing periodical payments.” [J4MB emphasis. This could be the sting in the tail for men. While a limit is put on the duration of alimony payments, an even higher proportion of men’s wealth will be handed over to ex-wives.]
The bill would also make prenuptial agreements binding if legal advice had been taken, [J4MB: Good news, but of course this is only happening because well-off women will thereby get legal protection of their assets before marriage – for some years they’ve been the driving force behind setting up pre-nups] because “there is no evidence that marriage breakdown is encouraged by prenuptial or postnuptial agreement,” she said.
“The result [of the bill] should be better opportunities for mediation, less need to go to court, reduced trauma for children, lower costs, an easier time for litigants in person and a fairer outcome recognising partnership in marriage,” she added.
In its Family Matters campaign, The Times and Marriage Foundation are urging an overhaul of the divorce laws to make them fairer and reduce damage to children.
The bill has its second reading on May 11.
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