It’s not unusual that when there are children in the marriage that the wife earns less than the husband. She may be a stay at home mum or earn a lower income simply because she works fewer hours in order to be able to cover childcare.
It’s also quite usual that if your family budget doesn’t need the additional money that the wife doesn’t work outside the home but instead takes responsibility for looking after the house.
If this is you, are you concerned that you may be penalised financially following divorce?
Frequently women believe that if you have not contributed financially to the marriage that you will be entitled to a lower share of the joint assets if you divorce.
You’ll be glad to hear this is infact incorrect. The court will base the settlement on the financial needs of both parties, especially the one looking after the children.
And there are a number of important landmark cases covering this.
In the case of Mr & Mrs White the judge stated there could be no discrimination between husband and wife and their different roles. He confirmed the non working wife contributes as much as the working husband.
In the case of Mr & Mrs MacFarlane the judge went a step further and ruled that Mrs MacFarlane was entitled to compensation for giving up her career to bring up the children.
As a result of case law, equal weight is given to both domestic and financial contributions to the marriage. It doesn’t matter which party earned the money and built up the assets.
Do remember as well, of course, that if you are the female breadwinner do not assume that all the assets of the marriage are yours.
If it’s a short marriage, typically you go will leave the marriage with what you bring in. But in a longer marriage all assets (and infact all debt) are pooled and the aim is to divide equally, as much as possible. This is regardless of who owns which assets.
So do not worry if you are a non earning spouse. Even if the family home is owned by your husband, this does not mean you don’t have a claim on the property simply because it’s not in joint names.
Don’t worry that your husband can ask you to leave the property or change the locks. Even though the property may be in his name it is treated as a pooled asset for divorce purposes.