While people often joke that in divorce, women try take their husbands for everything they've got, according to a new study divorce makes men significantly richer, while women may never recover financially.
The survey, conducted by Professor Stephen Jenkins, a director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research, was the first to track the financial outcomes of divorce among British couples. Jenkins combined data from British Household Panel Surveys from 1991 to 2004 with European surveys and calculated the divorced couples' incomes before and after divorce. The Independent reports that after a divorce, the incomes of ex-husbands rose by 25 percent, while ex-wives incomes fell sharply. 27 percent of the women in the survey wound up living in poverty, three times the rate of the ex-husbands.
"This is not so much a gender thing as a parent thing," said Jenkins. "The key differences are not between men and women but between fathers and mothers." Fathers' fare even better than childless men, with their incomes increasing by more than a third post-divorce, even though they should have the added burden of child support payments. But the survey found that mothers usually end up taking on all of the financial burden of children. Kids usually stay with the mother and only 31 percents of fathers actually make maintenance payments for their children.
Women are also far more likely to have interrupted their careers to care for children during a marriage. In 80 percent of families it's the mother who stays home to care for the children, often interrupting her career, according to divorce lawyer Karen Moores. 'Even in professional couples this is still the norm and once they split up it is difficult to change the roles they have taken on," Moores told the Daily Mail. "He still has the income while she's still at home or working part-time to care for the children." The study found that if women had worked throughout their relationship the divorce would have significantly less impact on their income. Remarrying could have a slight positive increase in a woman's finances, while the only time men's incomes decreased was when they remarried and had children while making payments to their first wives.
Professor John Ermisch, author of An Economic Analysis of the Family and Lone Parenthood told The Guardian that he agrees that women have a harder time financially after divorce, but said the gender disparity is getting better. "The proportion of women with dependent children who stop working after a marital split has almost halved between the late 1990s and early 2000s, from 16% to 9%," said Ermish. In Britain, the number of women working when they divorced has also increased from around 66 percent in the 1990s to 74% in 2002. Though more women are staying financially stable by working continuously throughout their relationship, this just means they are more likely to become single working mothers, and still face a much bigger struggle following divorce than their ex-husbands.
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Why Divorce Makes Women The Poorer Sex [The Independent]
For Richer Or Poorer: Why Divorce Makes Men Wealthier — But Women Are Left Worse Off [The Daily Mail]
Men Become Richer After Divorce [The Guardian]