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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 July, 2003, 06:01 GMT 07:01 UK
Divorce 'makes men richer'
Who gets custody of the money?
It makes financial sense for men to divorce or leave their partners, a study has found.

Men who stay married invariably end up poorer than those who leave their live-in partners, according to social researcher Cecile Bourreau-Dubois.

Mrs Dubois found that the effect of divorce on a man's bank balance even outweighed the financial benefits of either partner getting a better job.

However, the reverse was true for women.

Gender gap

Females starting a relationship were one and a half times more likely to improve their wealth than those who remained single.

Often people will find a divorce is the best economic investment they ever made
Mark Stephens, lawyer
Mr Dubois based her findings on interviews with more than 75,000 adults in 11 different EU countries.

Her report is published by the Institute for Economic and Social Research.

Mark Stephens, a senior partner at law firm Finers Stephens Innocent, said the findings come as little surprise "to those in the know".

There was still a significant gender gap between men and women in the pay stakes.

And women invariably retained custody of the children in a divorce, reducing their earning potential, he argued.

Savings

The man's wage will often increase ahead of inflation, with maintenance payments quickly falling behind.

"Over a very short period of time, maintenance is devalued by inflation," Mr Stephens told BBC News Online.

"Most people don't go back to get it redone."

Divorced men will also save on school fees, family holidays and other expenses.

Although this did not stop them complaining that they have got a raw deal.

Good investment?

"Men will moan like crazy when they get divorced," said Mr Stephens.

"Their main concern being, in generic terms, the fact that they will have to buy a new home.

"There is also the emotional pain of being separated from their children.

"But once they have passed that stage, quite often people will find a divorce is the best economic investment they ever made."

The only solution for a woman is to financially successful in her own right.

Or for the couple to earn enough money between them for it not to be a problem.


We asked you if men protest too much about the cost of divorce, or if this survey misleading. Here is a selection of your views.

After 5 years of being divorced,I agree with the report that finacially Men are better off but no amount of money covers the pain of being seperated from your children.
Nick, England

I do not agree with the way this report is presented. Divorce is made to sound as if it's just another investment option with great financial benefits, neglecting the whole implication of such a move especially on children's life.
cathy, US

My wife walked out on me and our 2 children when they were 7 and 10 years old. I was left to bring them up on my own and had to sacrifice a career and promotion at work and juggle with childminders. Don't always assume that women get a raw deal and there are more and more single parent families headed by fathers these days than you think
Mike Stark, UK

The only people who win in a divorce are the solicitors. What gender are most solicitors?
Ben Sheard, UK

I find that report astonishing. My experience so far has been one of outrageous financial demands, backed by a system which is heavily biased in favour of the woman. If my wife has her way, I will be financially crippled for the rest of my life.
Gregory Emms, UK

The survey is misleading. Most families do not send their children to private schools so there is no saving there, nor do they go on expensive holidays.

It may be true of wealthy families but not the majority.

The thing I think most men complain of is lack of enforced access to their kids and also how the majority get hounded by people like the CSA.
Benedict White, UK

Considering the number of horror stories about men being hounded by the CSA for maintenance I am sure that it is only a minority that are better off. Those who pay maintenance are effectively paying for two homes so how can they be better off?
Tracey, UK

I am recently divorced and can confirm that in a few more months I can see myself being better off financially. However, I would give up any financial gain to have kept my marriage and my family together. Lets not make out that all divorced men are dancing for joy because they are a few grand "better off" - all things are relative and a family is priceless.
Dean, England

They certainly do very well out of divorce. At the age of 56 I have no pension, my lawyers agreed a maintenance package that ends when I'm 57; because I gave up my career to follow his job I now have to accept fairly low paid work. He's bought an expensive house with his girlfriend. Financially, I am in a black hole and yet when we met I had more financial assets than he did. He has done very well out of me.!!
Rosemary Batt, England

I certainly would not agree. The pain of being away from your childern never passes. You constantly have to wonder would they have not been better off with you there. The only real way to remain better off, is not to get married in the first place.I will not be in a position to purchase a house in the foreseeable future, as I am paying for my children as part of the divorce settlement.
Brian Sims, UK

That is without a doubt the stupidist phrase i have ever read. To think that money can ever make for the pain of having to give up rights to a child. Believe me I am not sat here thinking "Oh great I will be a little richie when my divorce comes through...so what if I miss out so many wonderful events in my daughters life". In fact I would give my right arm to swap.

I will still plan to take her on holiday buy presents and such like. Not forgetting that I will now try to climb back onto the houseing market in this current climate.
G, UK

Fantastic News! Just the incentive I needed to get out of this miserable relationship and get on with my life.
John, New Zealand

When I was a student in bedsit-land in Glasgow, I lost count of the number of highly paid divorced men forced to live in bedsits because the burden of maintenance makes it impossible to buy another home. This report is nonsense. I've never met a man who was happy about his divorce and the separation from his children.
Mark - Expat Scot, Japan

I agree!! No more past due credit card bills at 22%,bounced check fees(18.00 each),5.00 womans magazines around the house, nail salon bills, tanning salon bills, and best of all, one easy monthly payment.
Steve, USA

I think this article should be headed Divorce makes Women poorer, rather than sensationalising the idea of divorce to men as a financially sound move.
Simon, UK, US

This study is utter nonsense. My wife left me through no fault of mine and she vowed to ruin me and ensure my life was not worth living.

With her solicitor and the CSA I was hounded for every penny they could take me for. I was eventually made bankrupt and had to give up my job due to the mental stress of my financial troubles and the fact that my wife would not allow me access to my son.

Although we were both unemployed at this stage, my wife was granted legal aid to fight for possessions where I was told that I was not entitled to legal aid as the property in dispute was too little.

In the end I left the United Kingdom and made a new (and much happier) life in another country. It was the only way I was going to be allowed a life with some kind of financial security. My heart still aches for my son however. My ex has my home, a big chunk of my pension and all the household contents. I was left with the bills!
Alan, Outside UK

While each circumstance is different. I raised three children with a new partner and found money had to be watched. This partner has left, children are now grown up and money is rolling into bank account.

No more hair dressing bills, sunbed hire,additional car costs, dresses, phone bills that went throught the roof. Saved twelve thousand last year alone. Great having the cash to spend on things that I want.
s, Australia

Yet another 'report' that confuses cause and effect. What is probably true is that certain men are addicted to their work. These men are more likely to a) earn more money, and b) get divorced. It is illogical to deduce from this that divorce makes you rich. That is like saying that having lung cancer makes you smoke cigarettes.
Nick, Australia

I agree with the survey's findings. I am substantially better off since my divorce, however, this is partly because I'm a successful woman in my own right and partly due to being freed from marriage to a life long debtor. The financiel burden of marriage to a debtaholic is one important factor that the survey fails to take account of. Financial irresponsibility of one of the partners is a factor that leads to the demise of many marriages. Colleen Morrison,UK
Colleen Morrison, Essex

watching my father leave my mother with £30,000 worth of debts and leaving her in a cycle of living just above the breadline has proven that men are able to financially benifit from divorce and separation. however a highly emotive subject such as this is bound to achieve extreme views.
jen, uk

Circumstances do vary, of course, but this survey correct in my case.

In my early twenties (1970's)and in a new Country, my career prospects were excellent. However, following my husband's job eventually led to my having to accept lower paying work.

My husband left when our child was 3 years old, leaving me penniless and ending any hopes of earning a much needed Degree. Maintenance (which never increased and ended when my son left school at 18 (though he lived at home until 21) = 13% of my husband's then income. My mortgage payments = 65% of my gross income. I was unable to sell our very modest (negative equity) home and even had I done so, would not have been able to obtain another Mortgage being a female single parent. Years later, private school (partially covered by my husband) became a necessity (not a luxury) for two reasons. My son's education was sufferering due to insufficient quality parenting time (I worked 60 hour weeks to support us). Good after school care was very difficult to find and private schooling enabled me to acce! pt better paying work. My son is now a happily married family man.

I am in my late 50's, without career or pension plan. I have excellent work references and am computer literate but, intelligent, well paying employment for a woman my age is extremely thin on the ground.
Sarah Bellamy, Canada

I am interested that the reports says maintainance stays constant, the CSA regularly recalculates my contributions. Whilst I will always willingly pay I am still having to provide a second home, for my children and myself with all the associated bills, whilst my ex-wife and new non-working partner are eligible for tax credits and child benefits. I have not found myself to be better off even with promotions taken into account and that is without mentioning the heartache caused by increasingly resticted access, supported by the courts, simply because as a shift worker, seeing my children disrupts their 'new' family unit.
Pete D, UK

What a waste of time and money, why did it take 75,000 interviews to find out what all men know already.......women spend your money !
Mick, Japan

Is this leading up to men paying even MORE to their ex-wives? Maybe if women were more willing to support themselves in the first place they wouldn't be seen as a financial burden to be dumped.
Tim Allison, US

There's no reason why separation from children should be arbitrary. Most mothers don't vindictively stop their ex-husbands from seeing their children, and given that the guy was probably working beforehand he probably wasn't seeing much more of the kids anyway than he can still see when not living with them. I'm now a single father with 2 daughters and my ex lives across the road.

I don't stop her seeing the kids whenever she wants, in fact because she doesn't live with us any more she probably spends better quality time with them now than before when it was just 'shut up and get out of my way'.

However, while she has a promising career and life is getting freer for her, I'm stuck in a council house with no job prospects because I gave up my career because she wanted to be the breadwinner.
Samuel, England

Save on school fees? Sorry, that's another world. This might apply to BBC employees demographic, but not the majority of their audience.
Aney, England

I agree with the article completely, at least in my case.

My ex has no interest in our daughter at all, decided to stop paying for her after 4 years (mainly due to his impending remarriage), and while I am waiting for CSA to do whatever we pay it for (8 months at last count, must remember to send them an anniversary card in November) all I can see is that I am struggling to pay a hefty morgage on my own, my daughter desperately need new clothes and her father swans around in his new car, and doesn't pay a penny.

Do I sound bitter? Of course I do, I would love to give my daughter more but I can't afford to. He is a clear example of someone that has become better off financially while I struggle to keep a roof over our heads.
Jan Lewis, uk

This article sums it up : woman get into marriage for money, men for casual sex. this truth is valid for all civilisations of mankind.
pat, sweden

Who cares if getting a divorse makes you better off financially, all the money in the world can't buy back love and respect and trust. So why do we keep sharing these stories? Is it because we have nothing left to share with each other? What the public really wants is something that has meaning and if you ask me the investments in this type of information is not only time wasting but it is also an insult to the general public.
Shell, Australia

Both marriage and divorce are investments - probably the biggest investments most of us will ever make. That is because we invest in them not just money but our entire lives. Both marriage and divorce are sure-fire money-losers, but cold cash doesn't keep you warm at nights.
Peter Ratra, England

I have to believe that the emphasis upon making this seem like men are happier with the outcome of divorce or separation simply because of an improved financial situation, is a mistake. No amount of money can gain you back your access to your child, or the loss of self esteem that comes from your partner no longer wanting you.
Frank Parkinson, UK

In my case I am worse off and my ex is better off. For looking after my kids 4 days a week she and her new husband get all the tax credits, all the child benefit plus over 20% of my net income. So don't tell me she is worse off - his wage is about the same as mine and they can afford broadband, satelite TV, foreign holidays, season tickets to football, new something every other week while I'm left with about £60 a week to try and have a life on after all essentials are paid.
Paul, UK

Strange statistics those. Why, like membership of the Euro, is everything judged in financial terms? My ex-wife made it impossible for me to see my 3 children and poisoned them against me. I have not seen them for 11 years and wouldn't recognise them in the street. The courts backed her at every step in the most blatant display of sexual prejudice. Fortunately, I have a new family now and am emotionally settled and very happy. Financial issues matter little in comparison, but just for the record, I have always paid full maintenance and still am. I only left with enough money to put a deposite on a house. With a 'new' mortgage and children from both relationships to support I am far far worse off - financially, but richer in all other respects.
John , England

It would have been helpful to see a breakdown of the report by nationality. As a divorced father whose children are now old enough to be free of the petty restrictions imposed by their mother I am lucky to have been able to maintain a good relationship with them both. For many men, sadly, the system bias in favour of women has reduced them to the status of studs with wallets being bled by the evil menagerie that is the CSA.
Dr Paul A Daniels, UK This news article (not the survey) is misleading. The research mentioned concludes that divorce is a good way for men to "move out of poverty". It doesn't suggest that divorce is a good investment for men in general!
S, UK

People should read the article before sounding off. I must confess I laughed out loud. The article basically says that divorced men to better than married ones due to the fact that they don´t have to spend money on children or have them get in the way of their careers. This holds apparently holds true even though men initially moan about having to buy a house and pay maintenance. Looking at the responses I see the article is probably right on the money.
Kat, Iceland

I think this survey or the way it is being presented here is at best misleading, or at worst men-bashing taken to a new level. It focuses on the bank balance of the man following divorce. It does not take into account at all the fact that the woman invariably keeps the marital home and also gains sole custody of the children. In divorce cases, family law and its implementation are biased towards women.
Sean, Ireland

I wish this were true. Six years after my divorce and buying a house to be close to my children, I am still finding it very difficult to cope financially. The loss of my children for most of the week is as painful now as it ever was. The loss of influence in my children's lives hurts like mad! However, it is still a struggle for my ex-wife too, though she has remarried and now has more money with her partner. Divorce is not easy for anyone.
Den, UK

NO amount of money can make up for losing the joy of seeing your son growing up as a bitter woman prevents you from having proper quality time with him. I don't actually beleive I will be better off, but frankly that's unimportant.
MM, UK

What this report is actually saying is that working men are generally better off than working women. By only applying this idea to divorced couples Mrs Dubois understates that very crucial point. It is not divorce settlements that need to be changed - it is differentials between the sexes that need to be addressed.
Robert Crisp, UK

When my husband walked out on me and our teenage children, I thought that one of the worst things about being on my own was that he would want regular access to the children; I had visions of spending weekends and holidays alone. This never happened; I could count on my fingers the number of times in 10 years that he has wanted to spend time with them. He also did the bare minimum for them financially, and now refuses any of their occasional requests for help with a blunt 'ask your mother'. He now has a big house, a fast car and investments. I have a small house, a clunky old car and am still paying off debts incurred when he dragged his feet over the financial settlement. On the other hand, I have regular frequent loving contact with my children and grandchildren; he has none, by his own choice. He will always be wealthier than I am - but I think I'm richer.
Divorced woman, UK

The question is: if men gain financially when they divorce, what's the compensating factor for staying married? In other words, what are they getting by remaining in marriage? Other surveys have shown that they are happier and healthier, so they "pay" to remain wedded. On the other hand, women lose out at divorce, so the question is, why do women want to give up being married? The answer is the opposite of that for men: surveys have shown that women are happier and live longer on their own - so they would "pay" to leave their spouses.
E. Tan, UK

I would never give up my children for money in a bank account which is what a lot of men worship instead.
Anon, UK

Generally a father who lives with his family only contributes to one household. A divorced father contributes to more than one. Therefore divorce does not 'Make men richer'. Perhaps the people who shirk their responsibilities are better off.
s davies, united kingdom

Isn't it interesting that "Females starting a relationship were one and a half times more likely to improve their wealth than those who remained single." The real problem is that so many educated, able-bodied, grown women see nothing wrong with being dependant on men their whole lives. Get a grip, ladies!
Jane, UK

I think some of the comments seem to disregard the fact that people actually get divorced without having had children, which was something that I went through (no children) To be honest, I haven't neccessarily found greater wealth, but I certainly seem to spend less! As for 'G' claiming the title to be the 'stupidest statement' ever, I don't think it actually implies money will make up for the inability to be around for your child. It's only talking financially.
Ed , Canada (formerly UK)

There should also be some study done to find out how much of this supposed improvement in a mans financial status is as a result of having an extra impetus to succeed after a divorce.
Denny, UK

Well said Gregory Emms, the divorce law in this country is so biased in favour of the woman that this survey must be taken with a huge pinch of salt. In my personal experience, I lost my house, my car and one career. I am now making another for myself, no thanks to my exwife or her solicitors.
Gary, uk

I think that the house and the rented flat handed over to the ex constitutes a fairly good gain for my ex wife. It is me that has had to restart with property prices so high. If I look at net values it is not me who has gained.
Carl, UK

When I was a student in bedsit-land in Glasgow, I lost count of the number of highly paid divorced men forced to live in bedsits because the burden of maintenance makes it impossible to buy another home. This report is nonsense. I've never met a man who was happy about his divorce and the separation from his children.
Mark - Expat Scot, Japan

I think this article should be headed Divorce makes Women poorer, rather than sensationalising the idea of divorce to men as a financially sound move.
Simon, UK, US

I agree!! No more past due credit card bills at 22%,bounced check fees(18.00 each),5.00 womans magazines around the house, nail salon bills, tanning salon bills, and best of all, one easy monthly payment.
Steve, USA

This study is utter nonsense. My wife left me through no fault of mine and she vowed to ruin me and ensure my life was not worth living. With her solicitor and the CSA I was hounded for every penny they could take me for. I was eventually made bankrupt and had to give up my job due to the mental stress of my financial troubles and the fact that my wife would not allow me access to my son. Although we were both unemployed at this stage, my wife was granted legal aid to fight for possessions where I was told that I was not entitled to legal aid as the property in dispute was too little. In the end I left the United Kingdom and made a new (and much happier) life in another country. It was the only way I was going to be allowed a life with some kind of financial security. My heart still aches for my son however. My ex has my home, a big chunk of my pension and all the household contents. I was left with the bills!
Alan, Outside UK

Watching my father leave my mother with £30,000 worth of debts and leaving her in a cycle of living just above the breadline has proven that men are able to financially benifit from divorce and separation. however a highly emotive subject such as this is bound to achieve extreme views.
Jen, UK

Agreeing with Brian Sims, the only way to remain wealthier is not to marry in the first place.

Financial advantage, however, does not make adultery and fornication morally or socially acceptable. Of course most successful social engineering is done through taxation. People with no other moral basis make choices to benefit themselves financially. When staying married meant more money in the pocket, more people tried to make a go of it. (And often succeeeded) If the lawmakers of this country really cared about "Citizenship" and "Social Conscience", they would not bias taxes so heavily against stable, monogamous, heterosexual relationships.

First they tax the house you buy (remember MIRAS?), then they take away the Married Couple's allowance, then they decide your spouse and children are not legally "Dependents". (Except for the purposes of deciding not to support them through college etc.) What does this policy tell you about the Government's so-called priorities for "Family" and "Citizenship". It is, of course, "Every Man, Woman and Child for themselves!"
Nick, UK

I think the cost of marriage is more relevant. Until you marry everything is 50/50 but upon marriage it is 100% to the wife if anything goes wrong with the relationship. In my own instance the largest gain I made from divorce was regaining my emotional sanity! I also got a better matched partner.
Andrew Nisbet, UK

How does this report make sense ? .. It clearly doesnt. Its probably a publicity stunt to get the author some visibility. If you take a simple calculator to this problem, assuming that the ex-wife has a lower earning potential, which she had before the kids came along incidentally, then how many years will it take for my increased earnings potential, after tax and all outgoings, to recoup the major loss of all those assets lost in the divorce ? Go figure !
Joe, England

An amicable divorce should be law and is the right course for the benefit of the children. The division of one`s estate should be based on what each partner put into the intial relationship and all finaces and property being divided equally. I lost my house and my children and pay a maintenance figure greater than the CSA would have agreed. My children now live with their mother half way up the country making visit`s very difficult because of the distance and cost. I have maintained and improved my income and have been fortunate to buy a nice home and cars. So from a material aspect I am fine. But I sadly miss my children and I am unable to offer the education assistance they need. This assistance may be given, when they are older and when they might live with me, but that may be too late!. I have remained single, whereas my ex-wife re-married to her partner who left his children. They both work long unsociable hours resulting in my children not receiving the attention they require.
JOHN LANE, ENGLAND

I wonder if this is likely to change, given that divorcees paying child support now have to pay it on a percentage basis, thereby eliminating the effect of inflation. However, it doesn't make good reading for myself, given that I think divorce is an abomination. The state should start fining people very heavily for getting a divorce, because they have effectively committed perjury, as they were lying when they told the legal official in the registry office or church that they would remain together until death do them part.
Graeme Phillips, UK

Quite how a man can be better off when paying for children AND an ex-wife is quite beyond me. There are thousands of men who spend an enormous amount of their own savings just to fight for the right to see their children after separation and divorce, only to see their ex-wife flout the law and ignore judgements against them to allow the father access. Quite how these men can be "better off" is a mystery I would like answered.
Andrew, UK

What rot. The only way to your own home and hifi (or other expensive toys) is to buy it yourself and never let a woman in there. Otherwise she breeds, then takes it all off you, and you have to start again. You're far better off without any of the emotional baggage too; children are blackmail because once you have them both the woman and the state have got you where they want you - which is working your guts out ... to service their requirements.
Phil, England

As I am single, with no plans for that to change, no desire to marry or have children, this kind of report makes me feel even more content. Bravo Mrs Dubois.
Steve Jaques, UK

As a man who has recently come out of a long term relationship I can say that I would prefer to be poorer, but with my partner, than richer and on my own
John, UK

My (nearly) ex husband has fought to pay the least amount of maintenance for our 2 teenage sons - any requests for additional support have been ignored - it has even got to the point where, because our youngest refuses to see him, his father ignored his birthday! He claims poverty yet has the freedom of a single person - I on the other hand have to support the three of us, covering the mortgage, loan taken out before separation, and all other bills plus fund all the additional activities that normal teenage lads expect to be able to do - they shouldn't suffer because of the situation. Do I think that men protest too much - in my case I would say definitely - I am sick of his 'poor me' syndrome when his actions created the situation and wish that , for once, he could actually put his sons first.
H Lane, UK




SEE ALSO:
Divorce website to help children
11 Oct 01  |  Education
Divorce money battles hot up
21 Aug 01  |  Business


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