In a rather interesting titbit from my recent reading of what’s happening in the UK family law world, it appears that there is an increasing trend of older, successful wives being divorced by their younger husbands when the women hit middle age. (I could make a quip here that it makes a change from the usual scenario of men trading in their wives for younger models when the children fly the coup, but I won’t go there!)
According to a report in the UK Telegraph, JMW Solicitors in Manchester reported that the number of such cases had risen by just over a third in the past three years. Anecdotally, women marrying younger men do so when they reach their late thirties or early forties. When those women reach middle age, the relationship often founders.
For some men, including those who perhaps still harbour ambitions of fathering children, the age gap which hadn’t posed any issues while the couple were dating or even in the early years of marriage then becomes a difficulty. The firm reported that although these cases are not as common as marriages and divorces in which men are the older of the spouses, they had seen a definite rise in such matters in recent years. I haven’t had an opportunity to look at the Australian statistics, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the same trend was happening here.
The article also referred to an observation as to how the UK Courts are dealing with such cases. There was a general feeling from the family law profession that the Courts, on occasion, were less generous to younger husbands than they might be towards women who have older husbands and that there was an expectation that men should be able to look after themselves without support from their wives.
From my experience in practising in both countries, dare I say that I tend to agree that gender bias is still an issue when determining outcomes in family law matters. Whilst we all ‘talk the talk’ about the legislation not referring to gender, the reality is that the gender stereotypes still do exist and matters where men aren’t the traditional breadwinner just don’t get resolved in the same manner.
I could be even more controversial by suggesting that the same bias on occasion exists with respect to cases involving family violence. Women do commit family violence against men but my experience is that those cases are not reported as commonly or dealt with in the same manner as those against women. In particular, men are often reluctant to report for fear of having their ‘manhood’ challenged or mocked. For mine, there is simply no excuse for any form of family violence by any person against another person, irrespective of gender.
No matter what your age or the age of your partner, or your gender, if you find yourself in need of advice in respect of family law matters, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Family Law team who will be happy to assist.