Researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge have looked at financial settlements on divorce in England and Wales to analyse the characteristics of cases and settlements resolved at different stages.
Their briefing report focuses on the current debate over 'meal ticket for life' divorces and provides evidence to refute widespread anecdotal claims of women as lifelong 'alimony drones'.
Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the research project addresses significant evidence-gaps regarding financial settlements law and practice as identified by the Family Justice Review in 2011, with the aim of informing future reform and policy developments for the benefit of families.
The research turns away from high profile cases and instead seeks to create a more balanced picture.
A key finding from the study highlights that immediate clean breaks between divorcing couples are prevalent (84% of cases in the survey); despite media attention garnered by ‘meal ticket for life’ awards, spousal support orders in the study were unusual and tended to be limited to cases involving families with dependent children.
The briefing illustrates the gendered nature of economic disparity resulting from divorce and critically questions proposed reforms of the law on financial remedies, which have called for a curtailing of support. It argues that until society achieves greater socio-economic equality, "as forty years ago, the greater problem may not be over-generosity to ex-wives, but the enduring, disproportionate economic impact of divorce on women.”
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