There is now a Rich List of Women who have become enormously rich from their divorces from wealthy men. See the Daily Mail article here. Do we feel envious of their wealth, or just disdainful because of the way they have accumulated it? The general feeling seems to be that they have done nothing to 'earn' it so why should they benefit. The cynic might say that the marriage was entered into with an eye on the main prize.
In the real world that most of us inhabit, we enter into marriages for all the right reasons. On divorce, there is less money and one person is often more dependent on the other for financial support. It is easy to think that generally if women stay at home and work less because of children, that they haven't earned any divorce pay-out from their husbands. But, the law recognises that one, usually the wife, needs to be compensated for their dependency. Perhaps the wife has supported the husband's ability to work by working less herself or looking after the children. If so, why should she be in a worse position, struggling to make ends meet on divorce. There is a pendulum that swings. Most of the time, the distribution works well, but there are times, when it is hard to see, with short marriages, no children or where there is sufficient for the wife to live on, why the husband should pay out disproportionately. I see many men who feel so put upon and so oppressed by the system which feels to them like giving a meal ticket for life to a woman they might only have been with for 4 years,that they are sceptical about the family law system.
There is a definite case for dependent women who have given things up for the marriage and where the marriage is long and there are children. There is also a good case for thinking more about the men who earn modestly, who are put under pressure in their 30's who are so stripped of their earnings and future earnings that it is hard for them to pick up the pieces and start again in a relationship. As marriages seem to get shorter and people are divorcing in their 20's and 30's, there has to be some recognition (where there are no children) that settlements should not be such that they prohibit people moving on. I see men who have to work simply to pay maintenance to women who have earning capacity themselves or who can carry on as they were before they were married, that is who have not given anything up by marrying. The danger of men having to do this, is that we will find a generation of people unwilling to marry again, or unable to afford to start again. If that was to happen it would be a real shame. There are those, for whom 50% is equitable and there are those for whom it simply isn't. The Courts need to make a distinction between them.