Financial provision following divorce: Revisiting the amtrimonial causes act 1973 in light of Wyatt v Vince

Jeanette Ashton

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Students new to family law are likely to find that a significant portion of the syllabus focuses on the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA). Part I is primarily concerned with divorce and nullity and Part II with financial provision on breakdown of a marriage1 and it is the latter which this article will consider. By way of overview for students new to the subject the law does not normally intervene in respect of how money and property are distributed amongst family members. Ownership of family property is largely governed by the law of property and equity and trust. However, following divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership the courts may split assets according to what is fair between the parties having regard to the individual needs and circumstances of the parties and any children. This can include an order for a lump sum or periodical payments2; a property adjustment order or order for sale3 and orders relating to pension provision4 with section 25 setting out what the court must take into account in deciding whether to exercise its powers in respect of those provisions. This area of family law has recently received considerable coverage in the legal press following the unanimous Supreme Court decision in Wyatt v Vince5 to allow the appellant wife’s appeal against the striking out of her claim for financial relief 18 years after the grant of the decree absolute and direct that her application proceed to the High Court Family Division. This article will not focus on the procedural aspects of this decision other than to highlight that Lord Wilson, delivering the judgement, made it clear that Rule 4.4 of the Family Procedure Rules does not confer on the family court the power of summary judgement equivalent to that found in the Civil Procedure Rules. Instead when a former spouse applies for a financial order, the court has a duty under section 25(1) of the MCA to consider all the circumstances of the case including the eight areas set out in subsection 2.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-31
Number of pages2
JournalStudent Law Review
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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