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What is financial need in a divorce case?

Earlier this year, a report published by the Law Commission on Matrimonial property, needs and agreement revealed the confusion about financial need in divorce cases and how this need should be met.
Financial need is the requirement following a divorce to meet both parties’ financial needs as far as possible. However, ‘need’ has a wide application in these circumstances and decisions about how this should be done can be inconsistent.
The Law Commission has requested the publication of new guidance, so that judges can have a balanced approach to the question of need in financial settlements. The guidance will also ensure that there is a consistent approach in these cases, while allowing divorcing couples to come to an acceptable agreement.
Following the report by the Law Commission, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed that it wants to implement this clarification of the law on financial need and has asked the Family Justice Council to do so.In addition to clarifying the position for judges, the new guidelines will help both parties involved in the divorce to be clear about their financial expectations in the settlement. This can help make settlement faster and less confrontational, as both sides’ expectations are managed.
Don Bird, senior partner and head of Atherton Godfrey’s Family Department, is a qualified mediator, he welcomed the move, saying: “Currently, all divorcing couples in England and Wales are being encouraged to accept mediation, and this new guidance will also help mediators to provide advice to divorcing couples on their financial needs and requirements, without the need to go to court.
“The new guidance will define and explain more clearly what financial need is, and is only the first point the Ministry of Justice is considering. The report also suggested looking at the possibility of specific numerical guidance for financial need and at making pre- or post-nuptial agreements legally binding, subject to certain conditions and safeguards.”
If you are going through a divorce and you would like advice on how financial need will impact you, you can speak to a specialist family lawyer who will be able to provide the guidance you need.

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