The following items represent some of the more recent developments in the law related to divorce and separation.
Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000
Under the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act, 2000, from 2002 maintenance will be calculated according to a set formula. Under Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Act, absent parents will be required to pay 15% of their take home pay for one child, 20% for two and 25% for three. There are amendments for factors where both parents share in the upbringing of the child. The Act also states that any net weekly income above £2,000 is to be disregarded. There are penalties for non payment, one of which is disqualification from driving.
Family Law Act 1996
The Family Law Act 1996 was intended to revolutionise the divorce process. It was passed by Parliament in 1996 but, because of the significant changes it would bring about, it was not expected to brought into effect until 1999 or 2000. Parts of the Act have now been introduced, for example the provisions on Domestic Violence, others shelved indefinitely.
The Family Law Act 1996 was intended to revolutionise the divorce process. It was passed by Parliament in 1996 but, because of the significant changes it would bring about, at the time it was not expected to brought into effect until 1999 or 2000.
Amongst other things, it was to dispense with the principle of 'fault based divorce' whereby unreasonable behaviour and adultery were relied upon to obtain the so-called 'quickie divorce'. This is where the parties do not have to wait two years and rely on either unreasonable behaviour or adultery. The Act was also to promote mediation - still an underutilised resource - one of the byproducts of which would hopefully be to reduce acrimony between the parties. The new law proposed Information Meetings which would be compulsory if one spouse opposed the divorce or there were disputes over children or finance. A Statement of Marital Breakdown could then be prepared three months after the Meeting. Filing of this Statement at the Court would then start proceedings. After that there would be a period for reflection and consideration commencing 14 days after the Statement was received by the Court and ending 9 months after that (with limited exceptions). After the period of reflection either party could then apply for a Divorce or Separation Order, normally being granted if less than a year had elapsed after the Period of Reflection has ended and financial matters have been settled.
Unfortunately, the results frm research conducted into Information Meetings was disappointing this is one of the reasons for the new legislation now being put back indefinitely. However, Part IV of the Act covering provisions on Domestic Violence was implemented in 1997.
Although a publication produced by the Law Society of England and Wales for Solicitors, it is a useful source of information with news and features on the latest developments in the law, with a searchable archive.
For the full text of the Act see the HMSO site - The Family Law Act 1996. See also the Families Need Fathers site for information both on the Act and related topics.
Family Proceedings (Amendment No. 2) Rules
With effect from 5th June, 2000 important changes were made in relation to the way Courts deal with financial disputes. They should reduce delay, facilitate settlements, limit costs incurred and allow the Court greater and more effective control over the conduct of proceedings. Further information see the various Forms and Guidance on the Court Service website.
Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999
The Act introduced the option of pension sharing on divorce with effect from 1st December, 2000 thereby allowing pension rights to be treated like other assets transferable from one spouse to another on settlement. It means pension rights can be transferred from an existing scheme into a new scheme for the benefit of the other spouse. For further details see Pension Sharing and Divorce.