By Lucy Thacker
The first Monday of a full working week of the New Year is dubbed in the media as ‘Divorce Day’. It may be that couples see the cracks in their relationship over Christmas together, or the New Year offers a clean slate and a new start. However, it is not often that the divorce calendar is as seasonal as one might think.
However, ‘modern’ families come in all different shapes and sizes. Many couples choose to cohabit rather than get married. Other couples may be considering a Pre-Nuptial Agreement or a Post-Nuptial Agreement to protect their own finances. Society has changed in its approach to what is considered a family.
Unfortunately the law has not changed in line with societal views. There has not been an overhaul of family law for decades. The Times is currently running a campaign with Marriage Foundation to bring family law into the 21st century. The five main reforms they are focusing on are:
The introduction of a ‘No fault’ divorce, for which we have written about previously
The overhaul of maintenance awards for life
To make Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements legally binding
Extend civil partnerships to heterosexual couples
Creating more rights for long-term unmarried couples
This has gathered support from a number of key figures such as Baroness Hale, Baroness Butler-Sloss, Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia, Baronness Deech, Lord Mackay of Clashfern and former High Court judge Sir Paul Coleridge who is the chairman of the Marriage Foundation.
Many organisations, lawyers, judges, and MPs have been campaigning on these ideas for years. There have even been recommendations from the Law Commission along similar lines to change legislation.
Hopefully with The Times' new campaign and increasing pressure from different organisations and individuals, this will lead to a much needed overhaul and update on family law. However, with Parliament engaged with Brexit and the fact they have stated any family law legislation would have to be part of a whole family justice reform, it may be a while before we have any real legislative moment in this area.
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