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.