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the courts must fully consider the welfare and interests of children involved in legal proceedings, but this would be repealed by the Deech bill the Law Society Gazette reports.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.