Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1984 c. 42


Matrimonial and FamilyProceedings Act 1984

1984 CHAPTER 42

An Act to amend the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 so far as it restricts the time within which proceedings for divorce or nullity of marriage can be instituted; to amend that Act, the Domestic Proceedings and Magistrates' Courts Act 1978 and the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 so far as they relate to the exercise of the jurisdiction of courts in England and Wales to make provision for financial relief or to exercise related powers in matrimonial and certain other family proceedings; to make provision for financial relief to be available where a marriage has been dissolved or annulled, or the parties to a marriage have been legally separated, in a country overseas; to make related amendments in the Maintenance Orders (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1972 and the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975; to make provision for the distribution and transfer between the High Court and county courts of, and the exercise in those courts of jurisdiction in, family business and family proceedings and to repeal and re-enact with amendments certain provisions conferring on designated county courts jurisdiction in matrimonial proceedings; to impose a duty to notify changes of address on persons liable to make payments under maintenance orders enforceable under Part II of the Maintenance Orders Act 1950 or Part I of the Maintenance Orders Act 1958; and for connected purposes.

[12th July 1984]

B e it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

I Time Restrictions on Presentation of Petitions for Divorce or Nullity of Marriage

Part I

Time Restrictions on Presentation of Petitions forDivorce or Nullity of Marriage

S-1 Bar on petitions for divorce within one year of marriage.

1 Bar on petitions for divorce within one year of marriage.

For section 3 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973(in this Part referred to as ‘the 1973 Act’) (which provides that no petition for divorce shall be presented within three years of marriage unless the leave of the court has been obtained) there shall be substituted the following section—

S-3 ‘Bar on petitions for divorce within one year of marriage.

3 ‘Bar on petitions for divorce within one year of marriage.

(1) No petition for divorce shall be presented to the court before the expiration of the period of one year from the date of the marriage.

(2) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the presentation of a petition based on matters which occurred before the expiration of that period.’

S-2 Extension of period for proceedings for decree of nullity in respect of voidable marriage.

2 Extension of period for proceedings for decree of nullity in respect of voidable marriage.

(1) Section 13 of the 1973 Act (which imposes restrictions on the institution of proceedings for a decree of nullity in respect of a voidable marriage) shall be amended as follows.

(2) For subsection (2) of section 13 there shall be substituted the following subsection—

(2) Without prejudice to subsection (1) above, the court shall not grant a decree of nullity by virtue of section 12 above on the grounds mentioned in paragraph ( c ), ( d ), ( e ) or ( f ) of that section unless—

( a ) it is satisfied that proceedings were instituted within the period of three years from the date of the marriage, or

( b ) leave for the institution of proceedings after the expiration of that period has been granted under subsection (4) below.’

(3) At the end of section 13 there shall be added the following subsections—

(4) In the case of proceedings for the grant of a decree of nullity by virtue of section 12 above on the grounds mentioned in paragraph ( c ), ( d ), ( e ) or ( f ) of that section, a judge of the court may, on an application made to him, grant leave for the institution of proceedings after the expiration of the period of three years from the date of the marriage if—

( a ) he is satisfied that the petitioner has at some time during that period suffered from mental disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1983, and

( b ) he considers that in all the circumstances of the case it would be just to grant leave for the institution of proceedings.

(5) An application for leave under subsection (4) above may be made after the expiration of the period of three years from the date of the marriage.’

II Financial Relief in Matrimonial Proceedings

Part II

Financial Relief in Matrimonial Proceedings

Provisions relating to powers of the High Court and county courts

Provisions relating to powers of the High Court and county courts

S-3 Orders for financial relief after divorce etc.

3 Orders for financial relief after divorce etc.

For section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973(in this Part referred to as ‘the 1973 Act’) there shall be substituted the following sections—

S-25 ‘Matters to which court is to have regard in deciding how to exercise its powers under ss. 23, 24 and 24A.

25 ‘Matters to which court is to have regard in deciding how to exercise its powers under ss. 23, 24 and 24A.

(1) It shall be the duty of the court in deciding whether to exercise its powers under section 23, 24 or 24A above and, if so, in what manner, to have regard to all the circumstances of the case, first consideration being given to the welfare while a minor of any child of the family who has not attained the age of eighteen.

(2) As regards the exercise of the powers of the court under section 23(1)( a ), ( b ) or ( c ), 24 or 24A above in relation to a party to the marriage, the court shall in particular have regard to the following matters—

( a ) the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity which it would in the opinion of the court be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire;

( b ) the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;

( c ) the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;

( d ) the age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;

( e ) any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage;

( f ) the contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family;

( g ) the conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it;

( h ) in the case of proceedings for divorce or nullity of marriage, the value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit (for example, a pension) which, by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage, that party will lose the chance of acquiring.

(3) As regards the exercise of the powers of the court under section 23(1)( d ), ( e ) or ( f ), (2) or (4), 24 or 24A above in relation to a child of the family, the court shall in particular have regard to the following matters—

( a ) the financial needs of the child;

( b ) the income, earning capacity (if any), property and other financial resources of the child;

( c ) any physical or mental disability of the child;

( d ) the manner in which he was being and in which the parties to the marriage expected him to be educated or trained;

( e ) the considerations mentioned in relation to the parties to the marriage in paragraphs ( a ), ( b ), ( c ) and ( e ) of subsection (2) above.

(4) As regards the exercise of the powers of the court under section 23(1)( d ), ( e ) or ( f, 24 or 24A above against a party to a marriage in favour of a child of the family who is not the child of that party, the court shall also have regard—

( a ) to whether that party assumed any responsibility for the child's maintenance, and, if so, to the extent to which, and the basis upon which, that party assumed such responsibility and to the length of time for which that party discharged such responsibility;

( b ) to whether in assuming and discharging such responsibility that party did so knowing that the child was not his or her own;

( c ) to the liability of any other person to maintain the child.

S-25A

25A Exercise of court's powers in favour of party to marriage on decree of divorce or nullity of marriage.

(1) Where on or after the grant of a decree of divorce or nullity of marriage the court decides to exercise its powers under section 23(1)( a ), ( b ) or ( c ), 24 or 24A above in favour of a party to the marriage, it shall be the duty of the court to consider whether it would be appropriate so to exercise those powers that the financial obligations of each party towards the other will be terminated as soon after the grant of the decree as the court considers just and reasonable.

(2) Where the court decides in such a case to make a periodical payments or secured periodical payments order in favour of a party to the marriage, the court shall in particular consider whether it would be appropriate to require those payments to be made or secured only for such term as would in the opinion of the court be sufficient to enable the party in whose favour the order is made to adjust without undue hardship to the termination of his or her financial dependence on the...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT