When being the family breadwinner can cost everything
“What did she THINK was going to happen with the children if she wasn’t the main or even equal carer?”
“It seems to me that this is exactly what men have been complaining of over the last few years as they are usually the breadwinners of the family.”
“You can’t have equality when it suits you and not when it doesn’t.”
In my previous post I mentioned that I was interviewed for a feature that appeared in The Times on Saturday. The piece seems to have struck a nerve: the online version is continuing to attract comments, some of which I have shared above.
The feature is about female breadwinners, whose marriages break down – and who are horrified to discover what happens next:
“Margaret…and her husband of 25 years got divorced. They have one son, aged 17, about to leave school and head off to university. They didn’t feel they needed to argue over custody as their son was happy to move back and forth between his two parents. They agreed to split the house. The four bedroom house was sold off, Margaret moved to a smaller place. “I thought it was all fine, until my husband started demanding half of my pension and my bonus,” she says. “That’s when I started to feel aggrieved.”
“Her view is that her husband didn’t deserve 50 per cent of what she had spent years putting aside. “I’ve worked in IT for 25 years,” she says. “I have slogged away doing a job I’ve never particularly enjoyed in order to keep our house going and keep us afloat.””
In a recent post, Divorce and the Breadwinner: some straight talking, I detailed the challenges that face a family’s main earner – male or female – if the marriage breaks down. The breadwinner may bitterly resent having to continue to fund the lifestyle of a stay-at-home parent with the proceeds of their hard work.
Indeed, the high-earning case studies featured in the Times were, to a woman, bewildered to discover what they faced to lose if they divorced. “It was too devastating to contemplate”, says one, told that the family courts might agree to the children staying with her former husband. “It seems very unfair”, says another about having to pay child maintenance.
In the Times article I make my own views clear, with similar sentiments to the commenters’:
“Women need to realise it is now getting far more common for them to earn more than their husbands. I see countless women who work hard and earn a lot of money and they have become contemptuous of their stay-at-home partner.
“Sex and respect go out of the window and they file for divorce and then they are amazed and stunned when their partner wants 50:50 of pretty much everything. This, in turn, amazes and stuns me. Of course this happens. It’s the law of the land.”
“Women said they wanted equal rights and now they are complaining about it. Men have been in this system for years, many of them complaining that their wives don’t deserve their high payouts either.”
As much as I sympathise with the women’s plights, this is the 21st century. Should female breadwinners expect the law to treat them any differently from how it treats their male counterparts?
In the article I make it clear that if you believe you could find yourself in this position, you should take legal advice sooner rather than later. Many high-earning men plan the outcome of a divorce – years before the final separation, in some cases – and the benefits of doing this apply equally to high-earning women!
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Marilyn Stowe is the senior partner in Stowe Family Law, which has offices in Yorkshire, Cheshire and London. With more than 30 years’ experience handling divorce cases and family law proceedings she is regarded as one of the most formidable and sought after divorce lawyers in the UK. In 2012, Marilyn became one of the first solicitors to qualify as a family law arbitrator.
All persons mentioned in the scenarios are fictitious: details have been deliberately changed in order to protect identities and other confidential circumstances of my clients. All advice and information on this blog including posts written by guest authors, is given only as a general guide to the operation of the law on the date of publication. Readers must place no reliance whatsoever on the content of this blog and must always obtain their own legal advice. Marilyn Stowe, Stowe Family Law LLP and guest authors accept no liability whatsoever arising as a result of reliance upon its content.
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