Having received some very good responses to the question about drugs, I shall be interested to see if we attract a similar level of responses regarding our divorce laws.
High profile divorce cases variously raise the issue of whether our divore laws are fair. There are problems with generalising from specific cases. However, according to recent reports, there has been a marked increase in the number of pre-nuptial agreements. Though not having the force of law, the courts are starting to take some note of them.
Baroness Deech, a family law expert, recently said our divorce system was a mess. One lawyer, Philippa Dolan, has described London as ‘the divorce capital of the world’: ‘Men’, she said, ‘do get a raw deal from the courts here’. It used to be the other way round. Women tended to lose out until the passage of the 1973 Matrimonial Causes Act which provided that divorced spouses are paid enough for their ‘reasonable needs’. Since then, the courts have changed the basis of determining a settlement to one of ‘fairness’ and ‘equity’. But is this how they actually work? How equitable is it if after a marriage of two or three years, with no children involved, one party who has contributed little to the wealth creation of the other, gets a sizeable settlement? The person getting the settlement may be male or female. There is a reported increase in the number of successful women seeking pre-nuptial agreements.
Baroness Deech wants to reform the divorce laws. Is she right? If so, precisely what change is needed? Or is it the case that we are getting things out of perspective, influenced by atypical cases, and that the courts normally produce a fair and equitable settlement?