All seems sensible

Judges are labouring under antiquated notions of chivalry in awarding women maintenance payments which extend years into the future, despite the fact many divorcees go on to earn good salaries on their own, says a leading female peer.

A Bill tabled by Baroness Deech calling for a three year cap to be placed on most maintenance payments is now set to go to the Committee stage after passing its second reading in the House of Lords.

The cross bench peer says this would reflect the situation in Scotland, the rest of Europe and North America, where a short time limit is set on maintenance payments in divorce cases. Baroness Deech says that far from doing women a favour the law as it stands in England is both patronising and stops them being treated seriously in the workplace.

“If there is one thing that stops women getting back on their feet and being treated seriously and equally at work it is the assumption throughout the legal system that once a woman is married she is somehow disabled and incapable ever of managing on her own for the rest of her life. It is a very serious impediment to equality.”

It’s entirely possible to design a reasonable sort of contract here. Money from before the marriage is personal, not part of the marriage. Anything earned in the marriage is 50/50 and the richer of the two offers a few year subsidy to allow the other to readjust upon divorce.

After that it’s just child maintenance to deal with.

The interesting question is why the law isn’t that way – I believe it is in part in Scotland.

17 comments on “All seems sensible

  1. I know hard cases make bad law, but under the current system have there not been non-trivial numbers of cases where, post divorce, the settlement is so biased in favour of the ex-wife that the husband is effectively in penury while she lives the life of riley?

    E.g. cases where the maintenance payments are a fixed sum, then the man loses his job and has to take another at lower salary, or where the woman has significant earning potential and uses it, + the less well-off husband’s payments?

  2. I guess the assumption is that the wife’s virginity, or at least youth and good looks, is a wasting asset. So once her husband has used it all up, she is entitled to a life time of compensation.

    Personally I have a simpler solution. Ban divorce. Legalise murder. It would be much simpler.

  3. @SMFS,

    Then it could be you that gets murdered, which is an example of unforeseen consequences of poorly thought-out legislaton.

    Clearly the only advice you can give to men is don’t get married.

  4. Bloke in Germany – “Then it could be you that gets murdered, which is an example of unforeseen consequences of poorly thought-out legislaton.”

    It could be. But then the murder of husbands is all but legal anyway. You just have to say that he beat you.

    “Clearly the only advice you can give to men is don’t get married.”

    Not a long-term solution. We still need men to do the stupid thing and get married. Even though it is stupid.

  5. Pre-nuptuals and –more important–the strict enforcement of them could solve all the crap. No exceptions. If the ex gets rich or wins money–that’s just too bad. Such cases would be fairly rare and should not be the basis for law anyway.

  6. No Fault divorce is just one of the tools Gramscian Marxists have used to destroy the family unit.

    And seeing as the establishment is infested with them, not a lot will change.

  7. @JuliaM: the most shocking thing about the case you link to is that if one reversed the roles, man living in the £200k matrimonial home while his disabled wife was reduced to living with her parents there’s not a judge in the country who wouldn’t chuck him out of the house and order it sold at the very minimum to divide the assets 50/50, and very likely order him pay maintenance as well. Rather than as in that case find a judge who decided her ‘mental health and well being’ was best served by her keeping all the assets from the marriage.

  8. What SMFS says. A marriage is akin to buying a car on fixed payments for eternity. At the start, paying £300/mo for a shiny new one seems like a great deal; but after 20 years you’re still paying £300/mo for an old banger which rarely starts and you no longer enjoy driving. (Your mileage may vary.)

  9. It’s not an interesting question why the law isn’t as sensible as that in Scotland. Law happens to be one of the things that’s generally better in Scotland.

  10. In the U.S., alimony is determined by state courts. Judges have some leeway, but there are statutes providing guidelines.

    In my state, statute allows, and is commonly applied, alimony for life. If the spouse doesn’t remarry, or live with someone for 91 days, the money is forever.

    It is not uncommon for residents of a state to be living under the ruling of another state. Divorce in Maryland, then later move to SC, and you are still subject to Maryland decree, though enforcing it might be tricky.

    There is a movement in SC to reform alimony law, especially the perpetual payment.

  11. I don’t have access to the Times article but am I right in guessing she wasn’t jailed for contempt of court?

  12. “No Fault divorce is just one of the tools… ”

    Really, in any relationship both partners have a veto. Have to.

    It’s not the “no fault” thing that matters, it’s that perhaps people wanting to divorce need to be told it’s a serious decision and should think it through a bit more. Which, with no fault divorce usually taking longer than a for-cause divorce, already happens.

    But no fault divorce is essential. It’s inhumane to make people stay in a marriage they no longer want.

  13. “But no fault divorce is essential. It’s inhumane to make people stay in a marriage they no longer want.”

    70 or 80% of no fault divorces are from women. One viewing of “Eat pray Love” and hubby is tossed in the bin, financially emasculated and the Mrs is off to “find herself” with the locals in the Bahamas. (or more recently the migrants at Calais)

    I’m not against divorce, but I feel sorry for the men who are utterly fucked by a rigged system.

  14. “It’s inhumane to make people stay in a marriage they no longer want.”

    No one has to stay ‘in a marriage’ they don’t want to. There’s no law stopping anyone fucking off to the other side of the world and shacking up with a refugee somewhere in order to ‘find yourself’ if you want to. What is inhumane is allowing one party to unilaterally dissolve the contractual financial arrangements without the agreement of the other.

  15. Bloke in Germany – “Really, in any relationship both partners have a veto. Have to.”

    Why? Apparently there is a professor at Georgetown who disagrees. As do many other member of the religion of peace.

    “But no fault divorce is essential. It’s inhumane to make people stay in a marriage they no longer want.”

    The law actually says they have to stay in the marriage because alimony won’t allow them to escape. The law just allows them to have sex with other people too. So what is the point? It is not inhumane to force people to stand by their freely-entered-into obligations. Especially as divorce results in the children dying about five years early and – as we can see every day – social chaos. If you do not want to get married, don’t get married. But if you do, there is no good reason to let people out for no good reason. Or, in fact, any reason at all. The Catholics are right. Marriage ought to be for life.

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