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.
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.”
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.