Empowerment, Equality and Ex Wives

Why I am supporting Graham Mills, to create fairer divorce legal precedent…

I was travelling home from meetings in London on the train when I saw Graham’s story on the front page of the Evening Standard. That was back in February 2017– it resonated straight away because in the same week, my partner’s ex-wife was taking him to court, trying to get a lifetime maintenance order. For over two years I had been witnessing the stress and financial pressure of a bitter divorce case, which puts a toll on both parties. It’s given me a personal insight into how unfair the divorce courts can be towards men.

It was a big shock to come across women who still believe men owe them a living and they never have to work again or only work part time even if they are the ones that wanted to get divorced!

The irony is not lost on me, here I was launching a positive ageing website, all about ageing with individuality and empowerment. Empowering women and men to take control and embrace life with a positive attitude at every age while I was seeing women looking for lifetime meal tickets and expecting men to take care of them while they went shopping and did pilates.

The utter sense of entitlement of some ex-wives is beyond my comprehension. Where is the self-respect of a woman who feels her ex-husband should pay for her to have a life of leisure and never need to work again while her ex does 10 hours a day?

Don’t get me wrong, I believe men have a joint responsibility to support their children and that equitable split of assets and providing ex-wives with support to retain/build a new life is fair. But expecting another person to pay you spousal maintenance until you retire or even for your entire life. How can this be right?

Setting back feminism

There are two sides to most stories. But I believe we all have a personal responsibility to look after ourselves.  I’ve watched in dismay as a woman destroyed all the rights we fought for whose behaviour would have appalled even in the 1920s, acting like a princess too delicate to work.

Me and my friends have more than one job, juggle kids and housework. So to watch while the man you love is dragged through court and getting stressed by an ex who wants lifetime maintenance and takes state benefits is blood-boiling.

Take responsibility for your own life and future…

Be a positive role model 

Be someone you and your children can be proud of. Create your own opportunities and build your own career.

Have self-respect.

Move on

Being perpetually linked to your ex by a lifetime maintenance loan never gives you the ability to fully move on. To have your livelihood solely or even partially dependent on spousal maintenance means they will always be on the back of your mind.

About exploiting the system…

Claiming income benefits when you are perfectly capable of working is immoral and setting back feminism, have a social conscience.

There’s a new era of benefits claimants and that’s the ex-wives having their lifestyle funded by ex-husbands when they are fully capable to provide for themselves.

We live in trying times, with so much turmoil and suffering it makes me want to look after others. Condemning a partner to a lifetime of payments when you’re capable to work and finance yourself is unjust.

Demeaning for Women

How can any woman not believe in equality and want to have more intellectual substance?! And it’s the children I feel sorry for, what sort of role model is this?!

The current legal precedent has such a negative impact on so many people’s lives and stops people moving on while causing financial ruin and waste.

Our divorce law should be more like Sweden, where maintenance loans are only granted in very certain cases when they’re a complete necessity like they should be.

Baroness Deech, one of the country’s most senior family lawyers, said 40 years of divorce law reform had increased the number of divorces and hurt families.

She condemned the doctrine of the divorce courts which says a divorced woman should get a half share of the couple’s wealth.

“It is unfair to men and demeaning to women” she said.

Baroness Deech has called for tougher divorce laws, generally to protect children from the damage caused by family break-up.

Outdated social norms

Decades ago, family structures were such that most men went to work and most women tended the home, partly because open discrimination against women in the workplace was widely accepted and women couldn’t get a fair shake in the working world.

The laws of the time reflected that reality, providing married women with various financial protections in case of divorce. At the same time, laws assumed that women were better suited to nurturing and raising children than men, so the kids usually ended up with mum.

The world has changed, but the divorce courts and philosophies of judges have lagged behind. Something which is incredibly harmful to men.

The fact that women are about to gain lifetime spousal maintenance while they themselves can work and earning a substantial income shows how outdated the laws are.

Temporary maintenance is understandable, but in the modern world lifetime spousal maintenance just seems absurd. As one alimony-paying ex-husband says, “The theory behind this was fine back in the ’50s, when everybody was a housewife and stayed home.” (The Atlantic)

Complicating lives

The complexity of divorce and the ambiguity about what the rules of financial settlement make it difficult and it’s extremely draining being tangled up in a divorce case which seems to go on forever. It really does wreak havoc on your quality of life, sending stress levels through the roof and never allowing you to fully relax.

Grahams Story

I am Graham Mills, I am raising funds to create a fairer legal precedent for men in divorce. A recent High Court decision against me has set a dangerous precedent and has set maintenance awards back 20 years. The ruling affects anyone who is going to get divorced and anyone who is currently paying maintenance. The ruling has created a public outcry and left the legal profession and courts unsure of the ramifications.

Fifteen years ago, I divorced and have supported my ex wife & son generously ever since. I also paid her a £230,000 lump sum, which should have been used to safely house her and our son. However though her extravagant spending she blew it all, as well as all the money she made on house purchases, in just 7 years. I took her to court to end the maintenance payments. She claimed she could only work 2 or 3 days a week. The judge unbelievably ruled that I need to continue to pay her for life, effectively excusing her spending and allowing her to only work 3 days a week despite evidence that she is capable of working full-time.

Despite that, my ex-wife then took me to the High Court claiming that she could not meet her basic needs and won an increase in the maintenance payments that I make to her.

The ruling has effectively made me responsible for her financial mismanagement. This will now apply to anyone in a similar situation.

The Press claimed my case effectively made men “cash machines for life” –and I’m inclined to agree.

I see this ruling as not only completely unfair for me, but one that has implications for all men.

My case has been widely publicised and could affect all current and future maintenance awards. I’ve been contacted by many men who feel the law is punishing them, too.

That’s why I’ve decided to take my fight to the Supreme Court – but to do that, I need your help.

Defending this has left me with debts. But I’ve come too far to give up. Now I need to raise £50,000 to take my maintenance case to the Supreme Court.

To kindly support fairer maintenance precedents in the UK, click here.

By Louise Proddow


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