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Divorce bill passes second reading in the House of Lords

A private member’s bill which would change financial settlements on divorce has passed its second reading in the House of Lords.

The Divorce (Financial Provisions) Bill was introduced by crossbench peer Baroness Deech in February. If successful, it would make changes to the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, limiting maintenance payment to three years and making both pre- and postnuptial agreements legally binding.

The academic told fellow peers that bill would introduce clarity to divorce law, assisting unrepresented litigants in person and saving “millions in litigation costs”.

A number of peers spoke in support of the bill, including broadcaster and journalist Joan Bakewell, as well as Lord Mackay of Clashfern, who is a former deputy president of the Supreme Court.

However, Justice Minister Lord Faulks questioned aspects of the bill, saying it could weaken the protection of children caught up in a divorce. Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act states that the courts must fully consider the welfare and interests of children involved in legal proceedings, but this would be repealed by the Deech bill the Law Society Gazette reports. The Minister also claimed that a three year limit on maintenance could cause hardship for many families.

The Divorce (Financial Provsions) Bill will now proceed to the committee stage to be examined in greater detail.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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