Leaving the Marital Home

You are a divorced woman and you have lost that wonderful place you called home, and the pain is great regardless of how long you spent there. It was home. It carried your personal trademark, it showcased your personality.

It will take you a while to get used to your new apartment. You keep forgetting that the bedroom is no longer as spacious as it used to be. Every time you enter it, you are shocked and distressed. You could be depressed, and have thoughts of suicide. If you have children dependent on you, you could feel even more helpless and desperate.

While more women in the UK today are smartening up and opting to invest in property in an attempt to provide for their retirement, many divorced women are losing their marital homes and being forced to live in rented accommodation.

A Shocking Fact

Recently the Office for National Statistics revealed a shocking fact: 40% of divorced women over the age of 65 qualify for financial support from the state, as compared to only 23% of men in this age group.

90 per cent of single parents are women, most of whom are divorced. Of these lone parents, about 65 per cent live in impoverished circumstances. Even if these women are awarded maintenance, their former husbands often don’t pay up.

This might surprise you when you constantly read about the generous settlements being awarded to divorcing women in Britain. The country is being touted as the best place in the world for women to get divorced. But most of these women are rich celebrities, married to rich husbands.

Another misconception is that as people get older, they become more financially secure, which means that older divorced couples are better-off than their younger counterparts.

Another surprising fact is that divorce is proportionately higher in poor families, which just goes to show that generous settlements are the prerogative of the rich.

It is estimated that by 2021, there will be at least 750,000 older divorced women who have lost their marital homes and must live in rented accommodation.

Marriage and the Ownership of Property

With the Married Women’s Property Act 1882, the line drawn between single or widowed women and women who were married was finally abolished, so that all women could exercise control over their own property.
However, even for years after that, only the rich could divorce and only men could obtain a divorce. A divorced woman suffered the social stigma of being invisible, even though she was innocent of any wrong-doing in her marriage.
Due to a series of Acts, divorce became progressively easier to obtain for the poorer classes and women. Then along came the Divorce Reform Act of 1969 which made it possible for couples who had been married for three years to petition for divorce. The turning point came in 1984, when the marriage period was lessened to one year. It became easy for couples to obtain cheap and quick divorces, especially if they were in agreement. Experts on the subject say that this is the main cause for the dramatic increase in divorce, and today the UK has the dubious distinction of possessing the highest divorce rate in the EU. Unlike in the past, 93% of divorce petitioners are women.

Is Owning Cheaper than Renting?

You might believe that once you’ve paid off the mortgage, it will be cheaper to own your house rather than live in rented accommodation. But the maintenance costs can be considerable depending on the size of your home. What’s more, as a tenant you will be eligible for Housing Benefit. So if you are a bit short on cash, renting will be a cheaper option.

What can Women Do?

You cannot determine which way the wind will blow in the courts. Divorce lawyers say that the courts don’t just divide marital assets equally between divorcing couples. Factors such as which spouse contributed more to the building of these assets are taken into consideration as well as the needs of both partners.

Therefore, be prepared for the possibility of losing your marital home. Invest in property. Get back to work as soon as you can so you can build up a better pension. Separate your assets from your husband’s. Avoid joint accounts. Start your own business. And if you do lose your marital home, think of it as a new life, an adventure, a life free of marital stress. After all, our emotional and physical well-being depends on the way we perceive our circumstances.