Solicitor Peter Watson-Lee, the Head of the Specialist Family Law Department at Williams Thompson Solicitors LLP in Christchurch, Dorset, has co-authored two influential legal guides. The national guides, which are the first official guides of their kind, have addressed the inconsistencies and a lack of knowledge surrounding the division of finances following divorce.
As the former Chair of the Law Society’s National Family Law Committee, Peter was chosen to join a small group of legal experts whose aim was to address the concerns about financial division following divorce highlighted by the Law Commission. With his wide experience working at one of the region’s leading family law practices, Williams Thompson Solicitors LLP, Peter helped develop the two innovative guides for the UK’s Family Justice Council.
Peter Watson-Lee said: “These are the first ever official guides. The problem is that there are no clear rules as to how finances are to be divided when divorce takes place and individual Judges have a wide discretion. This has resulted in unacceptable regional disparities. In addition, the withdrawal of legal aid has meant that more and more people have to try to sort things out for themselves. This is why these guides are seen as so important”
Published by the Ministry of Justice, the first guide, titled ‘Sorting out Finances on Divorce,’ is aimed at the general public and is intended to provide a fair and comprehensive reference in readable style. The second guide is aimed at the Judiciary and is titled “Guidance on ‘Financial Needs’ on Divorce.” It reviews the current law and how the parties’ needs should be considered as well as looking at difficult issues, such as how long spousal maintenance should last. Gathering national attention, the first guide has already been used by Advice Now as the basis of their ‘Survival guide to sorting out your finances when you get divorced.’
Peter Watson-Lee said: “Lack of knowledge and misunderstandings as to the approach to be taken is one of the reasons why divorce can become so contentious. The anticipation is that these new guides will become a standard reference for both the public and the Judges and this will help narrow the disputes between divorcing couples”.
(Source: Williams Thompson Solicitors)