Do you get paid for being the homemaker?

It was recently reported in the press that a husband in China was ordered to compensate his wife, who was divorcing him, for the housework and child care that she carried out during the marriage. The wife argued that the husband had not taken any responsibility for homework or child care during the marriage and the responsibility fell solely on her shoulders.

So, what’s the approach in the UK to different roles in the marriage?  Long gone are the days when a spouse (usually the husband) gets credit for being the breadwinner for the family. Our law has evolved to recognise in equal measure the contributions made by the homemaker (usually the wife) who gave up a career or employment to stay at home to raise the family and maintain the home releasing the husband from this responsibility to continue working and to forge a career.

When couples decide who should stay at home and who should go out to work they are not thinking about the day when they might separate. However, the choices made during the marriage can have significant financial implications for the homemaker who, on separation is left with little or no independent income or pension provision. The law describes this as relationship generated disadvantage and deals with an inequality in income at the end of a marriage through the payment of spousal maintenance. Spouses who have given up a lucrative or potentially lucrative career can be awarded capital compensation for the loss of earning potential and pension provision.

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