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Review of how assets should be split when couples divorce

The way a couple's assets should be split during divorce proceedings or the dissolution of civil partnerships is to be reviewed by the Law Commission.

The review will concentrate on two specific issues. The first is the extent to which one party should be required to meet the other's financial needs after the relationship ends.

The second is how to deal with non-matrimonial property ­ that is, assets acquired by one party before the marriage, or received by gift or inheritance.

The aim is to bring more clarity and certainty to these two areas, which often cause difficulties because currently the law is not precise and courts have a wide discretion.

Professor Elizabeth Cooke, the Law Commissioner with responsibility for family law, said: "When two people bring their marriage or civil partnership to an end it is vital that the law assists them to resolve their financial arrangements as quickly and fairly as possible.

"The current law creates too much potential for uncertainty and for inconsistent outcomes. In particular, the extent to which one party should be required to meet the other's financial needs is far from clear. Likewise, there is uncertainty over the treatment of property brought into the relationship or inherited by one of the parties.

"This work will complement our current project on marital property agreements, in which we are considering whether a couple should be able to make a legally binding agreement before or during their marriage or civil partnership about the financial arrangements they will make if the relationship fails.

"We therefore aim to publish a detailed consultation paper later this year and a final Report during 2013."

We shall keep clients informed of developments. In the meantime, please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.

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