Should Mothers Work? Whether they want to or not…

When married parent’s separate, the Court’s first consideration is the children’s welfare so financial arrangements are often put in place that benefit, on the face of it, the primary carer as the parent with the greater ‘need’. However both parents are expected to do their utmost to provide for their children (so far as child care responsibilities allow) and both parents need a similar standard of home (so far as is practical) so contact time is comfortable, safe and secure, as well as time in other home.

People’s skill, experience and time out of the workforce are relevant but once children are at school there is a clear window when mother’s can work. A lot of judges would think it appropriate that mothers return at least to part time work when their children start primary school, and most would expect them to be in some kind of paid employment by the time children are in secondary school. I appreciate that the benefits system is subject to an overhaul, but often part time work can leave to significant tax credits etc which can assist hugely.

There is also the idea that mothers should plan for the time when they do not have dependent children and financial provision will stop. It is going to be difficult to secure work after 10 years out of the workforce but even more so after 20 years! This is one reason why I would urge fathers currently paying for everything to address this problem sooner rather than later.

Child support is fixed by a statutory formula and discounted to take into account the care given by the non resident parent. Child support, earnings and state benefits should be deducted from the primary carer’s needs and only then, if there is a deficit, should the appropriateness of additional or spousal maintenance be considered. If appropriate, it should be reviewable and proper provision made for it to cease in time.

I would urge any parent paying all of their former spouse’s expenses to seek legal advice so the proper level of payment should be put in place in the correct framework.

The last point to make is that school fees will not be prioritised over homes for both parents, however unpalatable that may seem to both parents.

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