The legal consequences of dissolution: property and financial support between spouses

Authored by: Joanna Miles , Jens M. Scherpe

Routledge Handbook of Family Law and Policy

Print publication date:  May  2014
Online publication date:  May  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415640404
eBook ISBN: 9780203796221
Adobe ISBN: 9781134447534


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The international rise in divorce in western jurisdictions over the last half century (see Chapter 2.2 of this book) has brought with it the challenge of determining how best to deal with the economic consequences of matrimonial breakdown, both procedurally and substantively. That significant demographic change has been accompanied in many jurisdictions by substantial socio-economic changes which might also have a bearing on economic justice on divorce, not least the increased number of women and mothers engaged at least part time in paid employment. 1 However, empirical data counsels caution in relying on the labour market to avoid economic hardship to women (and, by extension, children) 2 following divorce or in assuming that a ‘clean break’ package of remedies will suffice in many cases. In the absence of extensive public welfare provision or re-partnering, the impact of past and ongoing child-care obligations on the primary carer’s (and in practice still mostly women’s) lifetime earnings and pension savings may not be ameliorated without significant economic redistribution between the spouses following divorce. 3 But in evaluating different jurisdictions’ views of economic justice between the spouses on divorce, it is essential to bear in mind that diversity in demographic, socio-economic, housing market, social security provision and other factors may have a bearing both on what financial solutions on divorce are practicable in any given jurisdiction and on perceptions of what economic ‘justice’ – or ‘fairness’ – on divorce requires by way of redistribution between the parties. 4

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