Friday, 30 November 2012

Half and half is a long way off

Stay-at-home spouses are still not getting their fair share in assets from a divorce - despite a decade passing since a landmark legal ruling - that's the warning from Nadia Davis, who leads our family team.

She said ten years ago the principle that divorcing wives could expect to receive half the assets of a marriage was introduced.

"It was generally introduced for wives who gave up their own careers to support their husband, look after the home and children, and who sacrificed their own salary for the sake of the family. But despite there being several high-profile multi-million pound payouts for divorcing wives lately, it would appear that the same equality does not always apply when it comes to dividing the assets.

"It's not an actual rule that each partner should have an equal share of the assets, and courts always have the flexibility to make individual decisions in exceptional circumstances. But it had been generally accepted in most cases that the wife would receive a 50 per cent share.

"Historically it was felt that the breadwinner's contribution to a marriage weighed more heavily than the homemaker, but in these relationships, both partners make significant but different contributions to the partnership.

"And before the ruling, financial equality would have been unheard of - a wife would usually have been assessed on her needs and receive maintenance and a home for her and the children, rather than an amount based on her contributions to the marriage.

"So in ten years since the ruling, there has only been one recognised case where a stay-at-home wife has actually received a true half-share of the assets - it's clear there is still some way to go until things really are equal."