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This landmark divorce case could change things for working women who start a family

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Hollie Richardson
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A woman has won extra compensation in her divorce case for “stepping back” from her career to start a family.

Part of the big problem with the gender pay gap is that women have to pause their careers when they first start a family. This means that it’s harder to work towards a promotion, seize new opportunities and, ultimately, get that pay rise. And that’s why a recent “landmark” divorce case is so interesting, as it could change things for working women who pause their careers to start families. 

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The Guardian reported on the case, which saw a woman (who remains anonymous) receive an extra payout for “curtailing” her career to start a family with her former husband.

The judge who handled the case, Mr Justice Moor, decided the pair, who were married for around a decade and have children together, should split assets of nearly £10 million equally but that the woman should get another £400,000 in compensation for curtailing her legal career.

Speaking about the case, he said: “[The woman] viewed herself as the parent who would take primary responsibility for the children. The husband’s career took precedence. I accept that it is unusual to find significant relationship-generated disadvantage that may lead to a claim for compensation but I am clear that this is one such case.”

He added: “I have come to the conclusion that an appropriate sum to award for relationship-generated disadvantage, over and above her half share of the assets, is the sum of £400,000.”

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Explaining how this case has the potential to change things for some women in the future, Jane Keir, the lawyer who represented the woman, said: “As a talented lawyer, our client sacrificed a potentially lucrative career for her family and to care for the children.

“Although Mr Justice Moor has made clear this decision should not open the floodgates to a raft of relationship-generated disadvantage claims, the judgment affirms that in truly exceptional circumstances the principle of compensation still exists in family law, and rightly so.”

She added: “In theory, this would apply to whichever partner steps back in their career putting family ahead of ambition and earning power.”

Although it’s been made clear that this is a rare case, it might be reassuring news to any parent who has stepped back from their career to raise a child.

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…