Gender Equality In Divorce Cases

When a couple get divorced, it’s important to work towards a financial settlement which is fair to both parties. How does this work if one party earns the majority of the money and the other has more of a “homemaker” role? And does the way the financial settlement is calculated cause gender bias? We take a closer look…

White v White: a landmark case

Back in the year 2000, the White v White ruling changed the way financial settlements upon divorce were viewed. Prior to this case, it was the husbands who held on to the majority of the family money, as it was usually the men who earned most of it. However, in White v White it was ruled that both the “breadwinner” and “homemaker” roles should be given equal status with regards to their contribution to a marriage and the division of assets should be done on a 50:50 basis.

For women who are, more often than not, the homemaker, this case significantly levelled the playing field.

In short, a fair divorce settlement means that women should not be discriminated against because they are the homemaker and men should not be favoured because they are able to go out and earn money.

A recent Court of Appeal ruling has underlined the importance of gender equality in a fair financial settlement

In a recent Court of Appeal judgement, Lord Justice Moylan overturned a ruling which had resulted in the wife, who looked after the couple’s disabled child, only receiving 29% of the couple’s wealth. The judgment in the original case was made on the basis of the “special contribution” the husband, a very successful businessman, had made to the marriage.

Overturning the ruling, Lord Justice Moylan described the wife’s “enormous contribution to the welfare and happiness of the family” as “incalculable”.

“She has devoted herself to the day-to-day care of a child with special needs and by doing so has freed the husband to a very considerable extent to enable him to pursue the business activities which have generated the enormous wealth now available.”

Speaking to The Independent, the lawyer who represented the wife said that the case would have “set a dangerous precedent”, if it had been allowed to stand.

Had the case not been overturned, this could have resulted in women, who are more likely to be homemakers, missing out on their fair share of the wealth upon divorce.

Get in touch to speak to one of our experienced family lawyers

If you’re starting out in the divorce process, understanding what a fair financial settlement may look like in your circumstances is crucial. Get in touch for your free initial consultation with one of our experienced family lawyers today.

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