Needs Must! Family Justice Council provides guidance for financial orders in ‘needs’ cases
18th July 2016
‘The law relating to financial orders is inherently unclear. It is not possible to discern from the statute what the law requires, although the courts and family lawyers administer the law with confidence’.
Suffix this paragraph with the word ‘discuss’, and you have the makings of a particularly knotty and nightmarish finals question. The observation was in fact made by the Law Commission at para 2.56 of its February 2014 report Law Com N 343, Matrimonial Property, Needs and Agreements (‘LC343’).
Financial needs are ‘an issue of central importance in most divorces’ (LC343, para 1.22). But how are a divorcing spouse’s needs to be assessed? At what level should needs be met? For how long should provision for needs be made in a financial order? How important, or how possible, is a transition to independence following a divorce?
There is a divergence of approach among the judiciary to answering these questions, and in this article Gwyn Evans summarises the answers provided by the Family Justice Council in its excellent ‘Guidance for the judiciary on financial needs on divorce‘ (‘the guidance’), which was published on 1 July 2016.