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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Family issues swept over in post-election posturing

So after all the hype, here we are, no further forward. Perhaps even two steps back.

I don’t think too many of us are surprised at the “result”. It was almost inevitable that the election would lead to a hung Parliament but still I held out hope we might get a decisive vote, rather than a score draw. Not to be.

The constant news coverage continues with the political commentators seemingly about to wet themselves with excitement, or so it has seemed at some points over the last few days.

As I’m writing this, there is still no deal on the way forward. Lib Dems have been chatting to Tories but now appear to be playing both sides and speaking to Labour as well, particularly with Brown bowing out. I don’t think the Tories can feel hard done to by this. After all, wouldn’t Lib Dem voters expect kingmaker Clegg to explore all avenues before making a deal? The numbers don’t quite add up for me though, and I still believe a Tory/Lib Dem alliance is the most sensible way for us to limp through to another general election in a few months’ time.

Looking at family issues, according to pre-election pledges, the Tories and Lib Dems are loosely in line on maternity leave being shared between both parents, extending the rights of mothers to flexible working, ending (or at least cutting back on) Child Trust Fund payments, and changes to tax credits.

Labour also toyed with changing maternity leave rights so it can be shared between parents, though not until six months for some reason, but appear to have gone it alone on most other things, including rejecting any reform of the tax system in recognising marriage, and increasing family tax credits.

What this means it is that, when the dust has settled, it is monumentally unclear if there will be any changes that affect families and family law. With so many other things on the agenda, and deals being made on everything from health to proportional representation, family issues are likely to be well down the list.

Watching this from afar, it is a bit like trying to make a jigsaw fit together when none of the pieces quite match up, which leaves the final picture looking a little uneven and ultimately unsatisfying.

But then that’s politics all over isn’t it?


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