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Working it out: divorce settlements

Does one size fit all in divorce settlements? Lauren Greenhalgh questions the logic of using a mathematical formula to divide assets

4 October 2012

The Law Commission is reviewing the way the courts approach divorce settlements. At present the English courts have little guidance and our judges use their vast discretionary powers to assist divorcing couples, focusing mainly on their assets and ‘needs’, to work out future financial support.

Many believe the court’s discretion gives rise to ‘uncertain and inconsistent’ law and a straightforward mathematical formula to divide a couple’s assets based on their income and the length of marriage may work.

Equal split

In Scotland, the general rule is that the net value of the matrimonial property is identified, valued and then divided equally, unless there are compelling reasons to justify a fair but unequal split. Further, one cannot make a claim for financial relief following the grant of decree of divorce.

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