Is it possible to calculate a divorce settlement using a mathematical formula?  This is the approach that is used in Canada and is currently being reviewed by The Law Commission as part of wider Government reforms of divorce law for England and Wales.

If adopted, this new system which is being labelled the ‘cookie cutter’ approach to settlements, would be intended to improve consistency of divorce judgements. The mathematical formula would produce a monetary upper and lower limit that a spouse would be entitled to.  In theory, this would make the process simpler and clearer.

Unsurprisingly, there have been numerous people from within the legal system who have objected to this cookie cutter approach. Their argument being that a ‘one size fits all’ method might be simpler, but runs the risk of coming to conclusions that are unfair as they won’t take into account the merits of each individual case.

The new approach would work within set parameters and there would still be numerous factors that influenced the settlement figure.  For childless couples, the difference in income and length of the marriage would influence the settlement, whereas for parents, the number of children would play a significant part.

It is also worth noting that there will be some cases where the new system would not be used.  This would include certain marriages with debts, physical disabilities or unequal property ownership.

As with most systems, the quality of the output is largely governed by the quality of the information it uses.  If the cookie cutter approach is indeed implemented in England and Wales, the accuracy of the data used combined with the variables used to decide settlements, will matter most.

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