President issues 17th View as to the link between divorce and financial proceedings

President issues 17th View as to the link between divorce and financial proceedings

Family analysis: The President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, has published his 17th View from the President’s Chambers setting out where we are and what needs to be done to de-link divorce from financial proceedings.

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17th View from the President’s Chambers

The President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, has issued his 17th View from the President's Chambers, as to the separation of divorce and financial proceedings. The President sets out the urgent need for a pilot of specialist financial courts, arguing that the time has come to bring about a complete separation of divorce and financial proceedings. He also suggests that the Family Court should be given a shared jurisdiction with the Chancery Division and the County Court for dealing with disputes under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.

Why is the separation of the divorce and financial proceedings necessary?

The President sets out the reasons that drive his conclusion that the separation of divorce and financial proceedings is required:

  • only a minority of divorce cases give rise to a financial claim
  • divorce, as a process, is largely administrative and bureaucratic with limited judicial involvement in the process (see Owens v Owens [2017] EWCA Civ 182, [2017] All ER (D) 23 (Apr)) and, unless the petition is defended, involves no face-to-face contact with the parties, in contrast to judicial involvement in financial claims, and
  • the concentration of divorce cases in a limited number of regional divorce centres, as the prelude to a completely on-line system, is putting the administration of financial proceedings under unnecessary and avoidable strain

He highlights that ancillary relief is only one of the various types of financial remedy that are dealt with in family courts—others (see the definition in the Family Procedure Rules (FPR 2010), SI 2010/2955, 2.3) include claims under:

  • Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984
  • Schedule 1 to the Children Act 1989
  • the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, and
  • the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996

What steps have been taken to de-link divorce and financial proceedings?

The President refers to the administrative de-linking of financial proceedings from divorce proceedings pilot that was launched on 2 May 2017—see 'Administrative de-linking of financial proceedings from divorce proceedings to be piloted' (LNB News 02/05/2017 101). In his 17th View, the President notes that in relation to the pilot:

'Although these are early days,

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About the author:
Kirstie is a member of the LexisPSL family team and a solicitor specialising in all aspects of family law with particular emphasis on financial settlements, pre-nuptial agreements, private law children matters and financial disputes between cohabitants. Kirstie trained at Manches qualifying into their family department in 2003 where she worked for a number of years, particularly on financial settlement proceedings for high net worth clients. In 2006 she joined the family team at Charles Russell and progressed to become a senior associate in the department. Kirstie is a former member of the Young Resolution London Region Committee. She is also a regular contributor to Family Law Journal on wide-ranging areas of family law.