Select Committee on Social Security Fifth Report


Letter to the Clerk of the Committee from Dr Richard Ryder MA PhD DCP AFBPsS FZS FRSA, Director of Family Justice (PS 3)

  1. The divorce laws are currently acting as an incentive for divorce. Work shy and irresponsible partners of both sexes gain huge financial rewards through divorce and now do so with increasing frequency. To add pension-sharing to the burden to be carried by provident spouses will increase that incentive and the injustice of the situation.

  2. The whole of divorce law should be concerned only about the welfare of the children of a marriage. Adults are altogether different. The state should not be concerned about assisting unscrupulous adults to deprive innocent spouses of their assets—as increasingly happens today.

  3. It may only be in a minority of divorces where such gross injustice occurs. A number of cases are known, however, where hard working wives, as well as husbands, have been forced to sell their homes and surrender their hard earned savings in order to meet the demands of idle spouses who have deserted them for another partner. If the deserting spouse is not working he/she receives even more!

  4. For the state to endorse such "day light robbery" of the innocent spouse is a monstrous injustice and an affront to human rights.

  5. Much of the injustice appears to stem from an outdated and somewhat stereotyped view of marriage. The law seems to be based upon the (often sexist) notion that one spouse goes out to work while the other works hard at home looking after children and observing all the domestic duties. This is a caricature.

  6. Far more often the modern marriage involves both partners sharing the household chores and childcare and both partners enjoying similar opportunities for earning. Under such circumstances it is surely quite unjust for a deserting spouse to rob the other of his/her savings.

  7. The state should concentrate upon the welfare of children. Where there are none, it is no business of the state to interfere, nanny-like, in providing unearned windfalls for improvident adults merely because they want to change partners. To erode the pensions of thrifty spouses adds insult to the injury of separation and divorce.

  8. Divorce is becoming a money-making scam, not only for lawyers but for an increasing number of married people. Current divorce law is encouraging an acquisitive attitude which is now destroying families in this country. This is contrary to government policy which is to promote family stability.

15 February 1999

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Prepared 15 March 1999