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Divorce law blog

Breadwinner vs Homemaker

25/11/2016   By: Nicola Rowlings

The Office for National Statistics recently launched an online calculator that allows you to value all those household chores you do. From cooking to childcare, gardening to DIY, the ONS have given this unpaid work a value based on the average wages of those who are paid to do those tasks. 

Interestingly, the ONS believes people do £1.01trillion of unpaid work in the home, equivalent to a whopping 56% of the UK’s GDP. Women do 60% more unpaid work then men with the average man earning £166.63 a week in unpaid chores compared to a woman’s weekly £259.63. 

What does this all have to do with divorce? Well, for decades the courts struggled to put a value on this unpaid work. It was easy for the court to take into account financial contributions such as wealth generated during the marriage or assets brought into the marriage.

What was far trickier was non-financial contributions. Things like looking after the family home and caring for the children. Until not so long ago, the approach of the courts to dividing assets was particularly unfair to stay at home mothers, where the homemaker contribution was valued less than the breadwinner’s. 

Since 2001, it has been clear though that there must be no discrimination between money and non-money contributions to a marriage. In practice, this means that there should be no bias in favour of the breadwinner at the expense of the homemaker. Both roles are to be regarded as equal. 

So, if you are the homemaker and you are going through a divorce, don’t feel that you need to calculate in money terms how much worth your contribution to the marriage has been. The law already knows how valuable it is.

Nicola Rowlings

Professional Support Lawyer

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