The Family Justice Council has today issued guidance to help litigants in person manage the difficult process of negotiating their own agreements. Jane Craig, head of Penningtons Manches’ family department, was part of the ‘small but hugely experienced’ working group led by Mrs Justice Roberts and tasked with producing the guide.
Sorting Out Finances on Divorce explains to the lay audience in clear language what the law is, how the court approaches such cases and what they need to consider when trying to reach a financial agreement. The guide - which applies to both marriages and civil partnerships - provides detailed explanations of particularly complex issues such as maintenance, housing and pensions and includes useful examples of common situations that arise when couples divorce.
Without the benefit of legal advice, litigants in person have previously found that the lack of clarity surrounding financial arrangements could prolong their proceedings, leading to acrimony and dispute and putting further pressure on the courts. In one recent case, Lord Justice Aikens noted that “...the presence of so many unrepresented litigants runs the risk of the court making legally erroneous decisions”.
Jane Craig warmly welcomes the guidance, commenting: “Now that legal aid is no longer available, many people struggle to reach agreement. I believe that the guide will be an invaluable resource and I hope that it will lead to more couples being able to reach an amicable and workable financial settlement when they divorce, without needing to ask the court to rule on what should happen.”
The guide can be found on the Gov.uk website here.