Although family and relationship breakdown raises a number of emotional issues
rights and obligations still have to be resolved within a legal framework. This
can appear hard and unfeeling but Judges are bound to apply the law without
bowing to emotional arguments. There are several Acts of Parliament and a number
of decided cases which have to be borne in mind by Judges and by solicitors when
advising their clients on the likely outcome of a contested Court case.
For example, the main Act of Parliament dealing with the division of property
and income on divorce in England and Wales is the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1973
(which has been amended and updated most recently to deal with the division of
In applying these criteria the Court must give first consideration to the
welfare, while a minor, of any child of the family who is under 18.
Although Judges have a fairly wide discretion when deciding how matrimonial
assets and income are to be divided they usually refer to these criteria when
giving their judgements since they are the parameters within which they can
work. If they go outside or ignore these criteria they are risking an appeal to
a higher Court on legal grounds.