This is currently a hot topic, no pun intended. Historically the menopause was not discussed in public. Fortunately, this has changed, all be it slowly. There are now discussions, programmes, blogs etc on the impact of the menopause and how it should be treated.
Employers are encouraged to have a menopause specialist who can advise and help women manage their symptoms while maintaining their roles in a business. For some women, the symptoms can be so bad and difficult to control that they can no longer do their job. This has only recently begun to be recognised and many women have been lost to the jobs market over the years as a result.
A connection has now been made between menopause and divorce. The statistics show that there are more divorces during the menopause years, often initiated by women. However, these women will often still not talk about their menopausal symptoms and the impact this has had on the breakdown of the marriage. Since becoming a solicitor, I don’t think any client has mentioned the menopause to me and I certainly have not heard references to it in court either from the lawyers or the Judges.
It may well be the menopause is not relevant to a divorce or separation. Thankfully we now have a no fault divorce system so we do not need to consider the reasons for the marriage breakdown. In any event the reasons for marriage breakdown would have no impact on financial matters.
However, what of those women who are struggling to maintain their work in the face of ever worsening symptoms? Their future earning capacity is very relevant to the court. It seems likely the courts are failing such women by refusing to consider the impact their menopause could have on the financial aspects of their divorce.
We live in a world of women’s liberation and equality. By the time most women go through the menopause, their children are largely independent and many women are therefore seeking to maximise their earning capacity. The court is by law required to reach a ‘clean break’ between divorcing parties if that is at all possible. Long-term spousal maintenance orders are now rare. We women are supposed to support ourselves financially.
How does this fit then in a world where neither clients nor the legal system openly discuss or consider the impact of the menopause. When considering the financial side of a divorce the Judge has a discretion to make a decision that is fair in all the circumstances. How can he make that decision with no information as to the impact of the menopause on the wife? Decisions may be made based on her income when, in fact over the next five years she becomes unable to work, or can only work part-time due to her menopausal symptoms. There is a saying in family law that “needs trumps all” but currently the courts and the lawyers are totally failing to consider the needs of some menopausal women.
We offer a free initial interview for clients who are considering divorce. I am more than happy to discuss the menopause with my clients if it is impacting on their separation/divorce. Please contact Rebecca on 01366 383171 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your individual situation.
This article aims to supply general information, but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek advice specific to your own circumstances. Fraser Dawbarns LLP are always happy to provide such advice.
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