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Only 10% of Scots men accept divorce contributions despite supportive law

According to the group, Family Law (Scotland) Act 1985 does not distinguish between the wife and husband when it comes to spousal support, collectively known as aliment when the parties remain married and periodical allowance after they divorce – men have as much right to receive financial support yet only a fraction ask for it.

Cath Karlin, founder of Cath Karlin Family Law specialists and CCS member said:

“We see very few men requesting aliment or periodical allowance in Scotland, even if the law doesn’t discriminate against them. More than 90% of claims come from the wife. The assumption men make is that this support is only available to the wife. It is also a fact that wives are more likely to be the primary care giver, taking time off work to look after children. This creates a financial imbalance in the relationship which is covered by periodical allowance should the couple get divorced.

Despite the fact we are seeing many more ‘stay at home dads’, and more women empowered with successful careers, we are not seeing an increase in contributions given to men. There is also undoubtedly a sense of shame by accepting financial support, which comes into play more for men.”

Another reason is down the rationale of Scots family law – the 1985Family Law (Scotland) Act effectively put an end to long term contributions by increasing the capital split to a fair share (normally 50-50) for both parties and reducing spousal support. Prior to 1985, wives received far less of the husband’s capital assets, but would receive lifelong periodical allowance until death or remarriage. Since 1985, we now look at the entire wealth of both parties combined and split it fairly to encourage a clean break and financial independence for both husband and wife.

Cath continues: “The fact is that in Scotland, neither the husband nor wife receive much in terms of long term contributions, so it’s no surprise that men are not claiming. Many women aren’t either. In many other countries such as America and across the border in England, the courts are far more generous when it comes to granting long term contributions, many of which are claimed by the wife. Some would say we are less generous, but I feel it is more empowering for women not to have to rely on financial support from their ex-husbands. In many ways, Scots law has been seen as more progressive and relevant to today’s societal and cultural changes, particularly when it comes to challenging gender stereotypes.”

Despite the lack of aliment claimed by men, a study by the University of Essex back in 2014 claim that men still do better financially after a divorce. The study challenges out dated cliché’s that men are ‘taken to the cleaners’ after a divorce. The research showed that women and children are hit far harder financially when relationships break up.

Professor Mike Brewer from the University of Essex said: “Women continue to see living standards fall by more after separation than men, especially when children are involved, but even more for couples with no children. Mothers and children from high-income families see especially large drops in living standards, because the loss of the man’s earnings is in no way compensated for by higher income from aliment, child maintenance, benefits and tax credits and having fewer mouths to feed.”

If you’re considering an alternative to a court based divorce, contact a local collaborative professional for advice and information.