Why your days as a stay at home mum may be numbered

If you’re getting a divorce….

Many a divorcing woman may be reading the UK headlines about the latest high net-worth divorce  case with horror.

In the UK, the Court of Appeal has ruled that it is no longer acceptable for an ex-wife to live off her ex-husband for life. In what is seen by many as a landmark ruling, what this case actually does, is potentially place limits on how long a mother can stay at home to raise her family.

So what does this judgement mean ?

  • You won’t be able to live off your ex-husband forever (like you really wanted to).
  • You will have to work to support yourself (you probably want to do that anyway).

So what’s the big deal?

Well, it also means,

  • Your days as a stay at home mum may be numbered because you may have to go back to work sooner than you’d planned (Oh, not what you wanted)

The truth is, for many women who are getting divorced, living off their former husband is just not an option because there just isn’t even money to support two homes.  As  Lord Justice Pitchford has told Tracey Wright, the “vast majority” of women go out to work when they get divorced. Because they have to.

Many a mother would like to stay at home but can’t.

The Judgement in this case highlights the need for women to begin to plan for “an income changing event” such as the reduction in their maintenance as soon as they can. Many women however, feel overwhelmed by the idea that they have to replace their husband’s income with an income of their own.

Before you go into meltdown, remember this, the law has long expected spousal maintenance to end when it is ‘just and reasonable’.

The law is there to ensure that your “transition to independence” is provided for. The ‘best interests’ of your children holds considerable weight. The ages of your children and the length of your marriage  are relevant but not pivotal considerations . The law will accept some hardship (but not undue hardship) because there is inevitably going to be a fall in the standard of living when one household becomes two.

there is inevitably going to be a fall in the standard of living when one household becomes two.

So what can you do now?

If you are going through divorce, recognise now that its unlikely that your husband will be ordered to pay you spousal maintenance for an extended period of time. In reality, this has been the case for many years for the majority of women.

You may have to consider returning to work sooner than you had hoped. Lord Justice Pitchfork commenting that Year 2 might be the time when a mother could be expected to have some employment.

If you are a divorced woman who has an extended/extendable or lifetime order, your husband may now seek to review the order in line with this case.

Communicate and plan with your husband

The law says that you and your husband are the best people to make decisions about your family. So make them. Take responsibility and make decisions. Family Mediation and Collaborative Law can help you by supporting you to decide the principle by which you want to divorce.

You might choose:

  • To be fair to one another.
  • To put the needs of your family first.
  • To ensure that the children have a parent at home when they come in from school
  • To agree that one parent will not go out to work until the children are a certain age.

It doesn’t matter. What you choose to agree between yourselves is a matter for you.

Plan for your future

By making agreements now, you can plan. If you decide that you will return to work once the children are at school you can make arrangements to retrain, take classes, whatever. If your children are already at school, what is the time frame you need to get back to work. Do you want to return to your career or would you like a new one? By getting clear now, you can ask for that to be taken into consideration in your settlement.

Hire a Divorce Coach

Communicating with your soon to be ex-husband, planning for the future. Knowing what you want and how much money you need. OMG it’s scary right?

Well, it can be.

Hiring a divorce coach can help you with all these issues. A divorce coach helps you decide what you want, helps you get organised and helps you stay on track. Using a divorce coach can literally save you thousands. A divorce coach helps you to communicate both with yourself and your husband.

In truth, the judgement in Wright v Wright won’t pave the way for massive changes for the majority of divorcing women in the UK.

The Judgement has not yet been published but  one thing appears clear; the courts will expect mothers to return to work  earlier than some women would like. What are you going to do?