This week, the English family courts have sent yet another message in support of families and free choice.
This comes hot on the heels of the courts celebrating the choice of older teenagers last week, when out of court discussions were encouraged over Madonna and Guy Ritchie's 15-year-old son Rocco's wish to stay living with his father in England.
This week it is the chance of the devoted parent and homemaker to shine.
The news that a judge has ordered 90 per cent of a couple’s assets to the wife, who had given up her career and significant earning potential to raise the couple’s children, has given the sacrifices made by her and all homemakers the credit they deserve.
The judge felt becoming a stay-at-home mum had left Jane Morris with a ‘low earning capacity’ and ‘rusty skills’, having spent her time raising three children during their 25-year marriage, leaving a successful career in recruitment to do so.
London has earned itself the title of divorce capital of the world – and for good reason. In stark contrast to other nations and legal jurisdictions, where the primary carer of children (not always but usually the woman) can be left with little to nothing, our world acclaimed legal system starts from a 50-50 basis.
This means that in principle, the assets built up during marriage will be divided equally between the man and the woman. However, if the need of one person is seen to be greater – for example, if the primary carer needs more than 50 per cent in order to put a roof over children’s heads, keep them in their schools or generally look after their best interests – then the courts will order that they receive more.
This week's monumental decision in favour of Jane Morris is a recognition from the courts that her lack of ability to earn going forward and her responsibilities at home mean that she should receive more of the family’s assets. As the court sees it, the husband can and will build his finances back up again.
Raising children while pursuing a professional career or other paid employment is not only possible in the UK but is filled with huge potential; I am surrounded by dedicated career women with loving families and wonderful children.
But for some, the choice is made to make a life in the home full-time – and the work, time and effort that goes into this should not be overlooked. Neither should it result in them receiving less of a financial award than a working mother or any other primary carer during a divorce. Particularly when sacrifices have been made in reaching that joint decision.
Although a double page splash on a spouse’s reckless spending is a reasonably regular phenomenon, maintenance payments are often made with the care of children in mind.
This case also shows that the courts will continue to raise the flag on the shirking of financial responsibilities. More and more prison sentences – often suspended in the first instance – are being handed out to those won’t pay maintenance to their former partners (who are, again, not always but usually women).
The heat is being turned up on those who try to short-change their spouses and I can only see the temperature rising on this.
This case is a celebration of parenthood. All mothers, and indeed fathers, who are the primary carers of their children will have their contributions to the family fully recognised by the family court in the division of their finances.
This is not just a victory for one woman and her legal team, but a victory for parents everywhere.
Georgina Hamblin is Director at family law firm VardagsReuse content