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Equality of divorce settlements

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In a move that may affect fathers in the Greater Manchester area, Ministers are being urged to put in place measures to encourage men to spend time taking care of their children. MPs are also keen to see more being done to prevent the discrimination at work of women who are pregnant or have young children. But a legal decision by the House of Lords in 2000 that aimed to provide better financial security for women has resulted in some women voluntarily reducing their working hours and choosing to stay at home to care for their children.

A study by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills revealed that most women felt that mothers of new born children should be given a minimum of nine months maternity leave and over 25 per cent felt that raising children should take the place of a working career. In addition, a 2014 Education Department survey showed that most working mothers would reduce their hours if their financial situation allowed it and more than 30 per cent would stop working entirely.

An economist who analysed the study published at a conference of the Royal Economic Society suggested that the 2000 White vs White decision had led to women reducing their working week by up to 2.5 hours. With judges ruling on an equal split of assets after a divorce, the economist felt that women were perhaps more confident about their financial future knowing that they would receive half of the marital assets even if their role in the household was as a homemaker and not a bread earner.

The precedent of giving equal weight to the contribution of non-working married women has changed the way family courts divide marital property between estranged spouses. A divorcing client involved in a property dispute may wish to consult with a solicitor who has prior experience with these types of matters.