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Is it right that a spouse who contributed nothing should get half?

Article updated May 2023

For the second time this week I find myself writing a post inspired by a conversation on Twitter about the fair distribution of assets between spouses when they divorce.

Before I proceed I should explain that I shall purposely be trying to limit the amount of law in this post. The whole purpose of this post is to discuss what society might think the law relating to financial settlements on divorce should be, not upon what it actually is.

A central issue is the question of whether it is fair that assets accrued in a marriage should be divided equally, without reference to who was responsible for accruing them. To put it another way, is it fair that the person who did not earn or receive the assets should get a share in a divorce financial settlement?

Typically, in the majority of marriages one party is either the sole or highest earner. A traditional scenario that’s still common now, is that one party is the primary earner, while the other works part-time or remains at home running the household or caring for children. Once this arrangement is established it creates an imbalance between the earnings, or values of the assets acquired by each party, during the marriage.

How these unequal financial contributions should be approached during divorce has been the subject of debate for years. There was a time when the law favoured the husband, who historically was almost certainly the sole or primary ‘breadwinner’. Thankfully that time has long passed, and these days conventional wisdom holds that marriage is a joint venture. Accordingly, the contribution of the ‘homemaker’ is considered to equal the contribution of the ‘breadwinner’. Or, to look at it another way, it’s understood that the non-financial contribution of the ‘homemaker’ enables the ‘breadwinner’ to prioritise work.

Depending on your circumstances you may wonder if this is fair? Even though conventional wisdom sees marriage as a partnership of equals, there are still some who disagree with how divorce finances are divided. They feel the primary earner should get a larger and proportionate share of the financial settlement where possible.

It all boils down to the concept of ‘fairness’. The problem, of course, is that two perfectly reasonable people might have quite different ideas of what is fair. Some will agree it seems fair that homemaking equals breadwinning, at least in broad terms.

But then things are not always straightforward and respective contributions are not always equal. The concept that one role is more valuable than the other irrespective of effort or sacrifice is complex. We’re not comparing like-for-like.

The question is, has conventional wisdom gone too far? It’s unlikely that the law causes any ‘breadwinner’ to regret their efforts to earn money prior to the marriage breaking down. However, I’m sure many will feel aggrieved that they’re not rewarded for their essential financial contributions in the divorce financial settlement.

What are matrimonial assets?

Matrimonial assets include everything you or your spouse have, whether in joint or sole names, such as the family home (including any outstanding mortgage), pensions, savings, investments, shares, businesses, vehicles and jewellery.

What if our contributions to the matrimonial assets were unequal?

All contributions to the marriage, including childrearing, are considered in the financial settlement. When examining the split of all assets, the starting point is 50/50. However, when dealing with these matters, the Court has broad discretion and will consider all aspects of your case, with a primary focus on provision for children and housing needs.

Useful links

Stay-at-home mum divorce rights (UK)

What happens to the family home when I get divorced?

Do you split a pension when divorcing?

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Spike Robinson says:

    John, I think you make an excellent and almost unarguable point regarding the not uncommon situation, even for couples who are less than ultra-rich, where the housekeeping and childcare has been entirely outsourced, and entirely paid for from the income of the other partner.

  2. Spike Robinson says:

    The problem really, and it’s the same problem with most of our family law, is that it’s framed and oriented to a single, dated, model of married life. In this case, divorce law and precedent is structured around the idea of a 1950s marriage of the sort that survived until around the 1970-1980s, the point of the last significant reforms (the more recent reforms were administrative window-dressing). In this 1950s marriage, the husband is a stockbroker or similar, who takes his umbrella and bowler hat on the daily journey from their very comfortable, largely paid-for family house in Surbiton or similar, on the train to the City. Meanwhile the wife is very much a ‘wife and mother’, she raises several children, with dedication and involvement and attention to detail, and with good results. She probably manages the household finances with similar attention to detail and good results. A few times a year she attends Guildhall functions with her husband, part of a vital team effort, and similarly once a year or so she puts on a function at their house, for the higher ups and lower downs of the office. They are a team, their contributions in terms of skill and effort are equal. And, crucially, in this idyll from the rose-tinted past, the opportunity to earn as her husband does is simply unavailable to her, because of systemic gender inequalities that are about to be redressed in the exciting decades ahead.

    This is the paradigm case, and all the operative law is designed around it. In this paradigm case, the paradigm law is not at all unreasonable and arguably gives a just outcome, even before we consider the question of supporting a wife who has ‘foregone’ a career – an option that didn’t really start to exist until about the time the major legislation was being enacted.

    However this paradigmatic case, the case of the (vanishing) upper middle classes, which is who this law was written to serve, entirely fails to address the situation of

    – the ultra rich, who are a tiny minority, yet who drive almost all of the precedent cases, thus hugely distorting the law for everyone else – even the upper middle class
    – normal middle class and working class people, who are almost invariably are both in a career of some sort, or at least a series of related jobs (careers also being a vanishing thing of the past), with perhaps a mortgaged family home, which both have paid into. This is probably now the typical contested divorce case and (to a lesser extent) the paradigmatic divorce situation
    – marriages that most closely resemble the paradigmatic 1950s case, ie, the “Stay At Home Mum” (SAHM) of Mumsnet fame, but are in fact fundamentally different. Because 60 years later, being an SAHM is not a role dictated by a sexist society, but a conscious, rather expensive, and quite attractive lifestyle choice that is elected by members of the affluent middle class. It is one of the most important misapplications of the law, to treat this situation as if it were the 1950s paradigm. It is critically and fundamentally different.
    – slightly less well off but no less normal couples, particularly younger people, who have not managed to get on the property ladder and who are, as the sneering denizens of MumsNet put it with unashamed horror, “in rented”. However these people don’t get a look-in. The divorce laws are concerned with people of property, and the laws privilege women in families of property far above any other. This is completely unequal treatment of women, and I often wonder why left-leaning feminists don’t campaign vigorously on this point. (Then I remember that most of them fall into one of the above categories and so would personally suffer if they were to enable their less well-off sisters).
    – the actually poor, of course, don’t bother with the family courts because they know full well they are ‘not for the likes of us’ and literally more trouble than they’re worth. There’s nothing a family law court can offer a poor family, even if the process was free, other than wading in to the acrimonious carve-ups of child arrangements. But that is beyond the means of any poor family unless they are willing to play the game of fictitious DV allegations to obtain legal aid.

    None of the main types of modern marriage and modern divorce – neither the ultra-rich cases that makes headlines and make precedents, not the elective-SAHM cases that masquerade as the 1950s paradigm, certainly not the working marriages of ordinary people, and not even remotely the marriages of the unpropertied and the actually poor – are in any way properly served or addressed by the existing law and existing paradigm. Instead we have a slow stretch of case law, attempting to accommodate changes in social relationships and societal values, but actually dominated by precedents set in cases where eye-watering sums are argued between usually egotistical, narcissistic, mercenary businessmen and their often equally egotistical, narcissistic, mercenary wives.

    This failing creep of case law is a clarion call for meaningful statutory reform – and I don’t mean just window-dressing the ‘no fault’ laws from de facto to de jure. In fact it is reminiscent of the situation for which statute law was first invented, when the common law had groaned so long trying to creep to accommodate social reality that it had become evidently unjust and evidently unfit for purpose. We are approaching such a time now, in respect of the Family Law.

  3. D says:

    Exactly as others have commented, marriage law frame an out dated model of relationships imposed by the reminents of a religious state.
    When we’re looking to close gender pay gap (a significant cause by stereotyped roles and lack of sharing of the role of care giver) shouldn’t we at least start to legislate to move towards encouraging people to take joint responsibilities.
    Instead legislation is desperate to create something that looks and is treated like marriage. Obviously things would be simpler without men in the equation, but the reality should be interchangeable roles.. unless we want to go back to the 1920s or eliminate the less fair gender.

    • G says:

      The law is biased in favour of the female. A wife can work full time,keep all her money which she spends on herself,contributing little to household finances while the husband pays it all. Child rearing is shared equally. Yet at a divorce the wife walks away with half the assets as well as alimony.

      • Eva says:

        Tha is completely not true, this works exactly same, probably worse, the other way round. Husband, works when he feels like it, spends his money on himself, she pays for most and looks after the household and kids and he walks away with half of everything including her pesion!!

  4. P says:

    Yes, but the flaw in any proposition that “bread winner and home maker” make an equal contribution to a marriage is that in many instances “home making” efforts can be sadly lacking. You are right, John, this is all premised on one partner running the household – looking after the children, keeping the home clean and tidy preparing the meals etc. All very 1950’s, and scrubbing the front step, isn’t it? The reality can be very different. Someone who stays at home and spends the greater part of the day glued to the TV screen, socializing with friends or a bottle of Blue Nun, does little housework and throws a frozen pizza in the microwave when the children get home from school is hardly an equal partner. And, in how many marriages does the bread winner also undertake some of the home making duties – looking after the garden, decorating and maintenance, taxiing the children around at weekends and a share of the housework, too. When the marriage breaks down it is bread winner’s assets and contribution that are tangible and irrefutable – capital in the house, a pension and other financial assets. But, that of the “home maker” – a mere presumption. And, in reality, I cannot think of any other contractual relationship that is more unequal, and less fair, than marriage. I have managed to keep this short piece gender neutral but as a rule, home makers tend to live a little longer than bread winners. Very little is fair in life – and, certainly not in divorce.

  5. Jane Mainwairing says:

    In this scenario, my close friend is the main breadwinner and has also organised & provided the majority of childcare. Her husband was previously declared bankrupt and does not contribute to either the mortgage nor any household bills. Yet he has demanded half of the home equity and this is supported by his representative. I have encouraged her to challenge this with a lower settlement offer – is she correct t to do so?

    • Sara says:

      Fantastic question, I am in the same boat, he never did any house work either and my child went to nursery from age of 12 months for me to return to work, please let me know if you get an answer
      Many thanks

      • John says:

        Sorry to say that it doesn’t matter. I’ve just been divorced, my ex-wife spent some time at home, but mainly to work on her many degrees over the course of our marriage – no kids. She did some house-chores, but it was probably close to 60/40 (her/me), and complained bitterly when dinner “wasn’t appreciated” by me. All the while, I paid for food, bills, mortgage, vet bills, her car purchase and work, my car purchase and work, about 50% holidays, many presents and house-stuff (flooring, appliances, furniture). Turns out that she also racked up a large amount of debt (think Partylight and Pampered Chef). And yet, she got half the equity in the house, that I solely contibuted to, and she kept all her degrees (yes, ok you can’t split those!). Over our marriage I didn’t expect her to pay anything because she was doing her degrees and I supported her, with the idea that she’d support me later when I wanted to start my own business.

        In the end, it didn’t matter – she spent all her money on degrees, and I spent all my money on living, and she got half the house. Go figure.

    • A says:

      Law is outdated and flawed and does not consider manipulation even when evidenced the marriage on homemaker part was for financial gain. My story is far too long to tell here but in short seduced by current partner leading to divorce of my first partner (yes i accept resonsibility, its a man thing!) Only to realise after many years of abuse financial infidelity and lies she was heavily in debt which was never disclosed. As a responsible husband i paid 100% her debts ..only to find out later she racked up even more. Her lies have led to me being removed from my property at one point (guilty until proven innocent). The evidence i hold is overwhelming in every sense yet on advice i was told you will still need to give half. How in the world is that fair. If your unlucky enough to have multiple spouses who take liberties and share nothing only take, you could find yourself with little on no pension halving each time !. Financial statements and other evidence of doing absolutely nothing to contribute and paying bailiffs who turn up at your door to stop taking YOUR belongings should be considered. This im sorry to say is not the case. Be careful who you link up with, it may take many years to show their true colours and intent. Law is disgusting and needs a total revamp. I’m trapped and still married to the individual by the way, as the financial aspect of ridding this awful person is too costly at my stage if life.

      • Maqsood says:

        Sounds like my current wife. Didn’t contribute anything spent most of her time at her parents house with our child. Came into the relationship with debt which she didn’t reveal.
        Previously married divorce after 6 weeks attempted to bleed him dry wasn’t able to and now has moved onto me. Law is a joke just filling the purses of solicitors and barrister’s.
        Family law needs to be scrapped in its entirety and rewritten.

        • Tony says:

          Just the same as the scenario unfolding before myself now, met when she was in a council house with 3 children already, had a broken relationship, no money, got all the benefits going. She never worked and did not want to. From 1996 till now, I have paid for everything, mortgage, utility bills, food, clothing, vet bills, holidays, wedding abroad, money to her 3 previous children, she has never cooked I cook, car tax, insurance, new motor vehicles, etc, etc and so on. I have kept every receipt and payment made. She even run off with our 2 children on Boxing Day back in 2011 stating she was a battered wife and I was only able to see my children once every 2 weeks on Saturday from 10am to 5pm because of her lies ( £8.5k later and a lengthy court battle did I win 50% custody after all her lies where found out).
          And now she wants half of a house that has no mortgage as it was paid off early by my hard work after 17 years and a little help from some inheritance even though for the last 10 years she could of got employment and help contribute to the bills, etc.
          Yes she is entitled to something but definitely not half.
          Living still in the same house and she is not even talking.
          But still some kangaroo court will still want to give her half.
          And that is fair is it. Think not.

      • Lesley says:

        This is so true. I have a friend whose wife walked out on him after a few years of marriage of which he gave her thousands and looked after her whilst she hardly went out to work. He stands to lose half of his earnings and assets and yet she has contributed nothing towards their marriage. He will end up with hardly any money to buy himself another house, nor could he afford to pay rent which would include paying a ground rent if he bought a flat if he’s lucky. Where he lives is very expensive and so it will be difficult to find anywhere to live whilst she will have enough to buy a house, which he won’t be able to. He is in his early 60s and is self employed but with little work coming in he struggles to make ends meet. He is not yet eligible for a pension. Does she have access to his pension too when he gets it whilst she is able to get her pension and a works pension, does he have the right to take half of her pensions as well? Its all absolute shocking and disproportionate. Who are these courts and bloody lawyers who dream up these scenarios to cripple people and their charges are disgustingly high, they are so greedy. These financial only divorces should be made lawless. People should be allowed to stand up for their equal rights in these divorces and should be judged on fairness not for one partner who contributes nothing to be the winner. Absolutely dreadful and he is in despair. His bloody wife is behaving despicably.

  6. Louisa says:

    I myself am a SAHM of nearly 3 years and husband is main breadwinner – he bought our house and finances everything. He does his share of house diy, gardening and maintenance, often helping cook meals and dishwasher. I look after our boy, our house, cook and take him out each day/activities (far from lazy) our son is my sole focus – my husband wfh full time and has a chilled job, most of the day he plays computer games and relaxes in the home office.. we both put in a lot of effort but yes, he is the money man and has been since I’ve known him, me on the other hand, I’m a creative type and less financially astute. We currently live very close to a 1950’s set up you could say. Do I feel I should be entitled to half, not sure, maybe not, but somewhere I can house me and my son, feed and clothe – absolutely. I’ve definitely taken a back step in our relationship for him to flourish and thrive in his career, our relationship would not have worked or been successful had I have pursued my own purpose. He needed me to take care of everything else a role I have enjoyed but begin to resent.

  7. Karen says:

    This debate always focuses around breadwinner vs homemaker. But what about when the woman is the breadwinner AND the home maker? My situation is exactly this, I was always the breadwinner, supported my husband financially and emotionally through his depression and unemployment, then paying for him to retrain at college to change career and work his way up from the bottom. Now we’re separated he has a very good job but this wasn’t the case while we were together and I was relied on for all financials, as he had a bad credit history. The children when young were in nursery while I worked, but I did everything else for them including all the drop off and pick ups. I managed the finances and running of the house, paid for a cleaner and gardener to maintain the house. Husband would do a few small diy jobs, but larger ones I would get someone in to do. He’d cook a little more often but only as he’d criticise that I wasn’t doing things correctly (although our kids now say my food is better). I also brought in capital just before the marriage from inheritance to go towards the house purchase and further inheritance for home improvements, whilst his contribution was debt that I paid off. Looking back now I feel that the marriage was completely one sided but would any of this be taken not consideration in court?

    • vanessa says:

      similar position …. I am the main bread winner and run the entire house hold .. with a non a preciative partner. who works full time too with less contribution…. he can’t even spk about money .. I be got us a mortgage with my savings and made a bad mistake of putting his name on it .. now am regretting it million times .. he feels he is entitled to half of everything … I have so resented him

    • rose says:

      What was the outcome for this as this is similar to my story?

  8. Jane says:

    I am in a very similar position to yours, Karen. I paid for everything during our 25-year marriage: the house was in both of our names, despite the fact that my husband contributed nothing. He lied about his income (earning almost double that which he admitted to me), and so I paid for all our daughter’s needs. I paid for his car, groceries, and everything in between, and funded him throughout his unemployment. Meanwhile, I also did all of the cooking, cleaning, and caring of our daughter. He left me after 7 years of infidelity, and significant emotional abuse. We have been separated for almost 5 years and he has now filed for divorce. Would any of this be taken into consideration by the court?

    • CR says:

      Hello I’d be so so interested to know where you are a year on? I’ve sadly found myself in this position lately being a hard working woman albeit had to take many sacrifices including relocating from the Middle East and forgoing a lucrative salary for a mediocre one (corporate solicitor) and I have been sole carer and provided financially for our daughter and all ancilliary expenses (food, petrol, holidays, toys, clothes, hobbies etc) – stbex runs a late night bar which is part of a wider restaurant chain that has utterly claimed his life and sucked all his time from our marriage. He is chasing a very lucrative business sale for which the timing seems to always get pushed so for view he is demanding I sell our house and give him 50% so he can restart his life …and continue chasing his millions for which he’s made clear he won’t be giving me a penny !

  9. A says:

    I find myself in this position also. My ex-husband, who has two children by his first marriage, refused to allow me to have any children. I earned twice as much as him when we met and within a few years I was earning more than 4 times his wage. He had several periods of unemployment, I also set up a business for him whilst I was working fulltime, after several successful years he decided he couldn’t be bothered to run it anymore. We had his two children 50% of the time, my parents did a lot of the childcare whilst they were with us, school runs were shared, I paid for holidays, birthdays, Christmas etc. The house was mine before we met, the mortgage was always paid by me. As well as refusing to let me have children he also refused to buy a house with me or get a pension. I left him April 2016 and divorced Jun 2017, in August 2020 he wrote to my employer to ask for my details so that he could request a financial settlement. This is still ongoing. The premise of the law is based on homemaker and breadwinner, he clearly did neither role. The only case law I can find is Sharpe vs Sharpe 2017 (ours I am told would not be a short marriage but also not considered long) but when asking a barrister to look at my case they said that their was no definition of a homemaker, it is essentially what the law considers you must be if you are not the breadwinner. I am being told not to go to court as my circumstances will not be taken into account and he will be entitled to 50% of my assets, he has at least said he does not want any of my modest savings, which essentially is my house (which I will need to increase my mortgage by over100%) and scarily half of my pensions one of which was only 6 months old when we split up. Is the advice that I am being told about avoiding court correct?

  10. Sarah says:

    It appears the situation is becoming more common from the comments here that the wife is both breadwinner and homemaker. Whilst my ex did (largely) equally financially contribute he has never done anything more than wash the pots and occasionally vacuum in the house. I have done everything + managed the finances, got him out of debt (ccj’s), organised our entire life, cared for 3 children all whilst working and doing a second degree. I bought the house 4 years before we married with a deposit of 45k, I’ve paid into a pension for 20+ years…His favourite phrase was “it’s not my garden” yet he is entitled to half as the starting point seems very unfair.

    • Cate says:

      I’m in a very similar position to you and other women above. My ex came into our relationship with nothing, having just left a partner and small child (I know, I know, I should have run. I was young and inexperienced..). He moved into the flat I bought at 22 (having borrowed the deposit from my mum, and paid it back), along with his small child (half the time). We married a year later, I sold my flat and with 90k of equity and a mortgage bought a house in joint names which we both renovated over the years, paying for materials and significant work (loft conversion, extension) by increasing the mortgage and with a redundancy payment I got. Equity from the house also paid his business debts several times, to the tune of about 50k. He was building his business as a joiner for most of our marriage (for which I did website / advertising/ secretarial work), I was main and at several points sole breadwinner, also raising and managing 3 kids (it was always me who stayed home when they were ill, who attended school appointments and plays, who organised the window cleaner, did the laundry and made sure bills were paid on time) and a full time healthcare job. After 20 years of marriage he walked out (rather like he did on his previous partner) to be with an ex girlfriend. Our youngest is 6 (and on the autism spectrum), our two older kids are in their first year of uni, living at home. I asked him to take a pension out when we married – it turns out he stopped paying into it almost immediately. I’ll be 60 6m before my youngest is 15 (she was a late surprise) and able to draw my nhs pension – which he wants half of, along with half of the equity in the house. And despite never having the money to contribute to family holidays etc it turns out he can afford very expensive representation. Meanwhile, he’s refusing to help support our two oldest as they go through uni, and has only just started paying slightly below what the CMS calculator says he should pay toward our youngest, who he sees for 8 hours a week. I find that the assumption made by the law that I cannot be both breadwinner and homemaker to be highly inappropriate. I’m certainly filling all the parenting roles myself.

  11. Unknown83 says:

    There are some obvious logical flaws in the “equal contribution” argument between a breadwinner and a stay at home parent (“SAHP”) that exist, I think, solely because courts cannot reasonably make an assessment of the detail but there are some reforms that I think would lead to fairer outcomes.

    The most obvious flaw is the assumption that a SAHP always makes an equal contribution irrespective of what their spouse earned. If you follow that argument to its logical conclusion then it suggests every SAHP whose spouse earned £100k contributed twice as hard as every SAHP whose spouse earned £50k! Clearly a nonsense, but no court is going to delve into the detail which is presumably why this lazy assumption is made. I don’t think it would hurt for the court to consider the positions of the parties before children. In my case, I had all the qualifications that have carried me in my career and was putting in huge numbers of hours. My spouse on the other hand was unqualified, working in a low paid unskilled job and refused overtime when it was offered. I don’t think it unreasonable for the court to take things like that into account when considering what our relative positions should be after a marriage and find it absurd that a court could ever even attempt to divide our assets in such a way to try and keep us so equal financially. It’s not like I will enjoy the same amount of free time as she does after all so it’s still an unfair outcome, no?

    The second flaw is assuming that they contributed to the breadwinner’s career much if at all and this is becoming especially true as more and more wives become the higher earner in a relationship. There are plenty of people out there balancing their career with homemaking duties these days and plenty of SAHPs whose contribution starts and ends with doing a school run and then sitting around doing next to nothing until the spouse comes home to spend their evening cooking, cleaning, vacuuming, ironing etc. My married life with children has been a decade of doing most of the housework whilst also being the sole earner and my soon to be ex-spouse’s “contribution” to my career has been telephone calls and emails demanding I come home to deal with the children. She will still be assumed to be the SAHP and main caregiver by a court though and no doubt it won’t be long before I’m both paying child maintenance and having the children with me most of the time because she cannot cope.

    The third flaw is a great irony that spousal maintenance these days only tends to get awarded where the payer is a very high earner (over £100k is often cited). In other words, it’s only paid to ex-spouses who were more likely than not to have enjoyed “help” at home like cleaners and nannies. If you’ve been a hard working SAHP slaving away at home for your moderately paid spouse, you have absolutely no chance of getting spousal maintenance because your spouse can’t afford it! If, on the other hand, life has been a series of lunches with the girls, takeaways, nannies and cleaners you might get a bigger share of the assets and spousal maintenance. It’s ludicrous.

  12. Robert says:

    What about in a case where one partner, in this case, the wife, already had a mortgage when they met. She works full time and pays all of the bills, icluding mortgage and food. The husband has never contributed a single penny, not even bought a bottle of milk. He cannot be classed as a homemaker as he literally lays around all day watching TV and playing with his cat. He has never so much as washed a cup. Indeed, he doesn’t wash himself either. He also refuses to have sex, only having been intimate twice in the first week after the wedding. Since then, nothing. There is a child, which she already had when they met. The husband does not interact or help with the child whatsoever. So, he does nothing and he contributes nothing. He does get some sort of benefits which he is very secretive about. Also, she has recently found out that his parents have been giving him £500 a month towards housekeeping. They have also been giving him undisclosed lump sums from time to time towards his univercity fees. He is not at univercity. I wonder how that would be dealt with in a divorse court?

  13. Colin says:

    I notice that the scenarios around separation and who is entitled to what never mentions a case of 2 people purchase (not married) 1 leaves and contributes nothing for years but then asks for half of any sale.

    • Amy says:

      This has just happened to us. My husband an his ex-wife remortgaged and took a lump sum out to pay off her credit cards and for her third degree. She then left 3 weeks later for another man and moved straight in with him. He owns his own property outright and she never paid for anything in terms of rent or a mortgage for 15 years. She has just taken us to court and won 50% of the equity and a forced sale, having never paid a penny towards mortgage and upkeep and also having taken out all the equity 3 weeks prior to leaving him. For years, we have tried to sort the matter but she has callously refused to engage. And now, after paying for 3 children (1 of which isn’t even biologically my husband’s) to be raised and covering all the costs on the house for 13 years, me and my children are left homeless.

  14. Natalie says:

    So many individual nuances to do justice fully to the argument. In my case was a high earner with further potential. Married to a man making even more money. I was coerced and emotionally manipulated into giving up work. I may not have done the housework, but the school runs (up to 2hrs) and all the concept, planning and most of the execution of the children’s activities and emotional welfare (the housework and cooking are the least important and easy parts of being a parent). Once I stopped work he put a postnup in front of me out of the blue (which I didn’t sign). I tried to go back to work and he put obstacles in my way. Yet he claims I didn’t contribute. Financial abuse is far more common than you think.

  15. steven says:

    I have been paying a mortgage for 15 years before I was married so only my name is on the mortgage and I am in the proses of remortgaging or selling as my mortgage term is up for renewal, my wife and I work full time we have 1 daughter who is ours and she is 18 years old, she is about to go to uni for 3 year, My wife pays most of the food in the house as she loves to cook, and pays for the clothing for our daughter. and I pay all the house utility bills and the council tax and the mortgage, as she refuses to pay towards them as she says it’s my duty to pay it all as its my house. she has spent a lot of her earnings in the Philippians and had bad investments that went wrong without my approval as I don’t agree with the investments she made. she also purchased a condo without my approval to which she only recently told me about as she needs my signature on some documents, we haven’t been sharing the same sleeping quarter for 5 years so in our minds we are separated. I would like to properly separate from her but she now is wanting half of the house. I don’t really want to sell the house and she won’t leave, where would one stand in a situation like this where your wife is very unreasonable, I would happily give her 30% of the value of the house even though she has not contributed to the bills or mortgage, and I would still help her pay her mortgage if that would be the right thing to do.I really want to be happy in life and separate, I find my situation really unusual but this is the place I’m at.

  16. Tati says:

    I was wondering about the topic discussed here. Thank you so much for sharing your stories! My conclusion – prenuptial agreement is an absolute MUST because the law seems to promote some kind of parasitism…

  17. JJAC says:


    wife worked the entire time together, paid during pregancy in full for 6 months and had 12 months off for both children and i found the short fall.

    she has from day 1 of 20 years libing in a home i purchased paid 250 to our joint account whilst i supported her getting better job and after 20 years of my full wage of averaged @ 3k went into that joint account. so 36k per annum from me 3k from her all in black and white statements. Whilst i also provided luxury cars and holidays for her and the children. in addition i paid a lump sum of 50k from a relatives inheritance off the home.

    today she wants out after 30 years together and 22 years of me paying 90% plus towards the family home all whilst she has worked fulltime and whilst on leave for both children ive worked even harder to ensure evrything remains the in place including her driving a vehichle and treating herself with luxury items due to me funding the basics.

    your telling me after 30 years of me paying over 90% of the costs she deserves half when she could have paid more in and was asked too !!! and didnt !!!!

    the law is bollox how is that FAIR

  18. Benny says:

    The modern day legal principles are EXTREMELY unfair and in most cases favors the wife significantly. This is a leadin g cause for the demise of marriage, because people are not stupid.

    The fact that money is distributed based on “need” is absurd. Because in this world, money is EARNED, rather than GIVEN based on NEED.

    My best friend is a law firm partner and works 14 hours a day. His ex wife does 2 hours of house work a day and mainly plays yoga and going to the gym and spa. The court does not give credit to the guy for the extra effort/contribution and gave the woman half of their assets, plus child support, etc. Think about it, working 14 hours a day is hard work. His health and mental well being suffers from such work load.

    But the court of course will always prioritize the NEEDS and wellbeing of the woman and their children .

    For a man, they look for support, care, and sex in a wife (let’s be honest). In return he provides for the family. The court always enforces the “providing” part, but never enforces anything else, especially the implied obligations of the woman.

  19. Chris says:

    What if you are married to a Narcissist with Borderline Personality Disorder. They make your life a misery and empty your bank whilst complaining all the way. My wife is a bully and unpleasant/abusive. She calls my friends and workplace, she damages personal items to hurt me, even opens my mail or birthday cards I write to family. I had no sleep throughout 3 years Pilot Training so struggled but she will smash me financially in any divorce. I am stuck as to lose my home and 50% of pension makes me contemplate the escape route of suicide. Why is the law not changing when a partner can be so toxic?

    • jon says:

      whatever you do chris- dont do that. i am in similar position and I am planning to leave her and accept the financial hit. i am hoping i will feel better off mentally and be more fussy about my next partner. remember this is not your fault. its just bad luck. get a lawyer before you do anything. they can advise on tactics. vardags seem good.

      • Daniel says:

        I am currently separating from a Narcissist who our friends, family and authorities also believe she has undiagnosed BPD. After her infidelity was discovered an immediate attempted suicide to attempt to get ‘control’ back of the situation through empathy and was not apologetic, just angry I had ruined the fun of me supporting her and being able to get her thrills in the office. Following this she went about a path of constant suicidal threats, mental and at times physical abuse, accused the man she had the affair with of sexual assault when he also rejected her and then set out trying to frame me as the abuser in order to keep me from our children and to try and maximise financial settlement. Luckily I have a good network of friends and family and a wealth of evidence proving the case, but sadly, that wont help when it comes to settlement. It is an ongoing battle, I knew it was going to be extremely painful emotionally and financially (she repeatedly told me she was going to ensure of that) but I am betting it all on my mental wellbeing being significantly improved on the other side and protecting my children from it. Sadly people out there want to manipulate, abuse and then play victim, and it isn’t your fault. I can say this because I am going through it, my friends and family have also had abuse, but whatever happens on the other side of it you will be released by the sort of evil that hides in plain sight. I have found it a painful learning curve, but the support of a good solicitor is absolutely invaluable throughout this process and I hope you have found yourself in a better position since this original post.

  20. Andy B says:

    I’m currently separated from my wife of over 10-years. She moved out on Boxing day 2022 after a bust up involving the mother-in-law and alcohol. We have a 11yo daughter who we are splitting the care one week on, one week off. We also have a dog that has stayed with me as the house she is renting doesn’t allow pets.
    I’ve always paid for everything house/home related – the mortgage, utility bills etc. I bought a car that was hers, but was the family car. I also pay for all the regular outgoings for the daughter and the dog – school clubs, school trips, gymnastics, vets. When we moved into the house I am living in now in 2016, my wife agreed to pay the council tax, although I had to cover that several times when she didn’t pay it.
    She did pay for a few holidays, although not any spending money whilst we were there.
    I have always worked and earn a reasonable amount, I’ve been with the same company for over 20years. I’ve also been paying into a private pension for years.
    My wife has always worked, although she changes jobs frequently. Some very well paid, some not so. She even got a severance payment in 2018 that she never mentioned (£33k). The job she currently has is extremely well paid and she earns more than I do.
    She was never a homemaker, all the furniture in the house I purchased. She did cook, but equally so did I. She did clean, but again so did I. She did pay for shopping, although I mainly paid and she’d walk in the house with random M&S special items from the local petrol station. One thing she did do more than me was taking our daughter to gymnastics several times a week which is half an hours drive away. She organised her work around this though and would take a laptop and sit in a café or pub and continue working.
    I paid off several debts she had when we first got together. We also both had houses when we met and we rented them out. She was so bad at managing this, that her mortgage was more than the rent she was getting and because of her credit score she was unable to re-mortgage with a better deal. I purchased that house from her and it was eventually sold. I also sold the house I owned. There was no equity in either so I didn’t make anything.
    We are at the stage now, where divorce is inevitable. I honestly don’t think she deserves anything, let alone 50%

  21. Daljeet says:

    I met my x at college 1994 dated split up. Then met at uni 96 cohabited 98 to 2000. Got married In 2001 bought house in 2003 for 72k. First child 2002 second child 2005. I did night time security from 2003 2006 and looked after children day time. She had minimum maternity and returned to work. When we separated 2006 I moved five minutes away walk to a new apartment rented however I lost my job and then didn’t work for 11yrs. During this time I focused my attention on children had them Thursday night school holidays and weekends bankholidays. She would work alot and pursued her career she paid the mortgage on the house and all kids stuff. My main contribution was the children not financial but everything else quality time etc now they 21 and 18 both at university. In 2012 she convinced me to transfer my share of the property to her she said I was on benefits and I went along with it because the house was small and it would be a stepping stone for her to move and to a larger property where kids could their own bedrooms. In 2017 I moved to my parents started doing painting decorating. In 2019 our divorce was absolute I applied. She bought another house on her own accord in 2018 186k. My issue is based on my contribution am I entitled to a share of the first house. When we divorced we didn’t get a financial order simple process .

  22. Jane says:

    My marriage broke down when my husband walked out after 11 years of marriage. Now divorced and he received approx 25% of the value of the matrimonial home. Was this fair? I would argue no, when we met he was broke and I paid off £12,500 of his personal debt. He moved into my home and as he walked out of his well paid job 2 years into our relationship contributed nothing financially for 4 years. In addition to working full time and supporting him 100% I did all the shopping and the majority 90% of home keeping. So why should we even have started at 50:50. He had refused pre-nup, and trying to be positive as they are still not legally binding in the UK I console myself that at least I didn’t waste money on solicitor to get one. I am now on anti depressants, sleeping tablets and receiving counseling. The likelihood is that whilst I managed to keep my house I will not be able to maintain it so will have to down size.

  23. Mark says:

    After 33 years of marriage I am happy with 50/50 split.
    However the wife wants more based on that I earn more an additional 15k per year.
    She has been full time in her current job for 9 years. We have no dependant children.
    Just been advised that I am being made at age 57 redundant and she wants half of that as well.

    Greed is ugly


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