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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

28 JUL 2014

Matrimonial property, needs and agreements

Chris Barton

Emeritus Professor

Matrimonial property, needs and agreements
Family Law
This article considers the present law on matrimonial property agreements and proceeds to consider the recommendations in Law Com No 343 (2014): 'Matrimonial Property, needs and agreements'. Following a glance at the immediate media, etc, reaction, the proposals with regard to 'needs' are summarised, together with the prompt decision by Government to require the Family Justice Council to act on them. The intention here is to ‘remove regional variations’ and to help mediators ‘to give financial advice to help separating couples settle disputes out of court’.

The centrepiece of the article is a review of the proposals for 'qualifying nuptial agreements' which, if compliant with certain suggested conditions, would be guaranteed to stick: contractual validity; deed; made at least 28 days before the wedding; material disclosure; and legal advice. It is suggested that the 'weak link' might be the 'disclosure' requirement.

The Report's recommendation that there be no statutory reform of the 'non-matrimonial property' concept is analysed in the light of Commissioner Cooke's comment that such would be 'unacceptably controversial, and the article concludes with a discussion of the place of 'qualifying nuptial agreements' in attempting to avoid the financial consequences of domestic partnership.

The full version of this article appears in the August 2014 issue of Family Law.

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