Divorce: Will new laws make it easier to carve up a life together?


When my friend divorced, I sent her a card that said “Divorce is ugly, but hell, so is your ex”.? Divorce is often a messy business and there are rarely winners.? Each situation is unique and there is no one size fits all solution that pleases everyone.? In order to make things fairer, new laws are being proposed.? This from Stuff😕 Quote:

Big changes to the way relationship property is dealt with when a couple separates have been proposed by the Law Commission.

The commission has published proposals to reform the Property (Relationships) Act.

It sets out the rules for dividing property when a relationship disintegrates.

Last year, the Law Commission published an issues paper and invited public comment.?It has now published a preferred approach paper, asking for feedback.

It suggests that the family home should no longer always be shared 50/50. If one partner owned the house before the relationship began, only the increase in value during the relationship should be shared.? End of quote.

Sounds fair enough.? Quote:

Homes bought during the relationship would still be shared equally.? End of quote.

Also fair. But here’s where it gets messy.? Quote:

People who had children, had been together for 10 years or more, or who had built or sacrificed careers because of the relationship should be eligible for family income sharing arrangements or “FISAs”, the commission’s paper said.

“Under a FISA, the partners would be required to share their combined income for a limited period after they separate, to ensure the economic advantages and disadvantages from the relationship are shared more fairly.” That would be dependent on how long the couple had been together, to a maximum of five years.[?]? End of quote.

I’m just not sure how this would work.? If a marriage is over, then it makes sense to me to separate things as soon as possible so that everyone can move on and achieve a new stability. Who gets to decide what the ‘limited period’ is? If it falls to the maximum of five years, that’s a really long time to effectively be in limbo, unable to fully move on.

I’m also not sure about this: quote:

[?] The commission said children’s best interests should be given higher priority, including giving the primary caregiver of children a default right to stay in the family home in the period immediately following separation.[…]? End of quote.

I think everyone can agree that the children’s best interests should be given a higher priority, and in some ways it makes sense that the primary caregiver can remain in the home with the children. Where that falls down is where the primary caregiver is the one who is the cause of the break-up. If it’s Mum that’s the primary caregiver, and Mum has an affair that causes the break-up, is it reasonable that Dad, who is the primary earner, has to move out of the house and continue to share his income for a ‘limited period’?

It seems there is an opportunity to contract out of the new rules.? Quote:

[..] “The rules should continue to apply to all marriages, civil unions and de facto relationships lasting three years, unless the partners enter into a contracting out agreement. Partners should still be entitled to share equally in all relationship property, subject to limited exceptions.” [?]? End of quote.

It seems these days before you promise to love someone ’til death do us part’ you will need to spend time and money making an agreement about what will happen if that vow gets broken.

There are no easy answers to any of this.? Will the new laws improve things or just make it worse?