Lucinda Connell, senior solicitor with Major Family Law, the divorce and family law specialists, comments:

In June 2016, the Family Justice Council published it’s long awaited “Guidance on Financial Needs on Divorce”. The guidance follows a low commissioned consultation on matrimonial property, needs and agreements which was published in February 2014.

The guidance focuses on financial needs of parties following a marital breakdown as opposed to the other factors which come into consideration when looking at terms of settlement, that of sharing and compensation. The guidance sets out how financial needs should be approached and goes on to deal with the issue of duration of the relationship and marriage.  There are a number of accompanying annexes which contain useful worked examples and tables of relevant cases with short summaries. Another annex contains a helpful commentary on the approach to be taken when considering pensions whilst a third provides practical examples of different types of need and details relevant legal authorities.

The guidance makes interesting and informative reading but it is important to note however that the guidance does not itself change the law; its purpose is simply to disseminate information about the ways in which the court exercises discretion when considering terms of financial settlement and particularly in relation to the assessment of a party’s needs and it is hoped that a more consistent approach will be encouraged.