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Last Updated: Friday, 9 July, 2004, 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK
Should divorcees be entitled to future earnings?
Karen Parlour
The ex-wife of footballer Ray Parlour has won her legal claim to more than a third of his future earnings.

Karen Parlour's original settlement was ruled not reflective of the role she played in supporting his career.

Until now maintenance has been awarded on the basis of a spouses' reasonable needs.

But Mrs Parlour's lawyers argued that the post-divorce income should be split in the same way as other matrimonial assets.

Should spouses be entitled to a percentage of income after divorce? Will this have wider consequences for divorce cases? How should a divorce be settled fairly?

This debate has now closed. Thank you for your comments.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

The problem with this case is that it masks the huge number of women who receive absolutely nothing from men and have to raise a family on their own. I believe a man has an obligation to his children but when a relationship ends then it ends. This will encourage men to cut and run.
Martin Brown, Pickering, North Yorkshire

This will further devalue the sanctity of marriage, and sets a dangerous precedent
L, Wales
This is an absolute disgrace, this will further devalue the sanctity of marriage, and sets a dangerous precedent. Maybe Ray Parlour can live off of two thirds of his income, but how many other men can? And will this law also apply to women who have been supported by their husbands? I think not! I will have to apologise to my girlfriend now, there is no way I'm getting married!
L, Wales

I can only see this paving the way for either a complete shunning of the concept of marriage for the richer men in society, or more pre-nups. It's entirely ridiculous that she should be worth a third of his future income if they've made a "clean break" - he already pays (considerable) child maintenance, and to me, that should be all. Some small amount to cover the fact she gave up her own career to have children should suffice - I'm not sure what an opticians assistant earns, but if it's 400k, I'm in the wrong profession!
Matt, Nottingham

What marriage can possibly last, now that the rewards for a divorce are so great?
Adrian, Bristol, England

The antiquated and unjust body of law governing marriage and divorce should be swept away, to be replaced by legally- binding contracts drawn up between consenting adults. The so-called 'pre-nuptial contracts' currently used are not binding, it's all at the discretion of the court. Why should a person automatically become co-owner of another's property on marriage? If they both agree this in advance, and also agree the divorce settlement, then fine, but no court should be able to override the terms of a consensual, socially responsible contract in which the partners agreed otherwise.
Jeff, Portsmouth

Well at least the lawyers will be happy, pre-nups all round.
Aaron, Cardiff, UK

I don't believe divorcees should have to pay any maintenance or future earnings to their ex partner. A divorce is a closure on their relationship and commitment to each other. Obviously this does not include maintenance paid towards any children they have had, but they should have no responsibility for each other anymore.
Bob, Luton, Beds

Let her have the independence she wants
Chris L, Cheshire, UK
Absolutely not. Is she in anyway supporting him in his future endeavours and contributing to his success? No. So why should she benefit? He's already making ample payments to the kids. Let her have the independence she wants.
Chris L, Cheshire, UK

60% of marriages end in divorce. 90% of divorced men lose all contact with their kids after 3 years. After a few short years you lose the house, the kids, probably the car and the dog. Now you stand to lose your future earnings as well. Why on earth would a man want to get married?
Tim H, UK

Absolutely not. Marriage is becoming all too easy to get in an out of, without making it a potential source of income also.
Roy, Belfast, UK

Future earnings should not be divided at all - whether to satisfy a need or otherwise. The only exception to this is where both parties were genuine business partners - then future earning should be divided in proportion to contribution. One lesson any better off party to the marriage needs to learn: move your assets out of the country, where they will be difficult to touch.
John, Newmarket, UK

This judgement is nothing short of madness
Stuart, London, UK
Absolutely not. The relationship between the man and woman ends at divorce. If there are any children from the marriage then separate arrangements can be made for them. This judgement is nothing short of madness.
Stuart, London, UK

I think it should be half and half. It should be settled fairly. I am a divorced woman and I didn't ask for anything but a roof over my head which I am paying for now, but I do think that a lot of men come out the worse after a divorce. Some women are terribly greedy and soon men will not work and go on the dole or they will stay in a very unhappy marriage because of all that has happened to this greed footballer wife.
D.Moore, Gosport

It's fair to claim earnings up to the point of the split but not for future earning. What's next? Continual payments from a previous employer because of work done while you were there? I don't think so.
Nick, London

They should be entitled to future earnings if they are equally entitled to their debts.
David, UK

The only winners are the lawyers
Paul B, Preston, UK
When my friend was going through his divorce I was amazed to learn that there are no set rules. They had no children yet her lawyers argued that she should get 75% of the assets because her salary was higher than my friends and therefore she contributed more!! I have another friend in the same situation, his partner's lawyers argued that because they had 4 children that his wife should get 5/6 of the assets!! Both these cases are currently going through the courts. The only winners are the lawyers who have had the money from the sale of the assets sat in their bank accounts for the last year. The current system allows lawyers advice their clients to make absurd demands so that they can earn a fortune when the cases have to be settled by a court. We need set rules / formulas on how assets are split and how much maintenance should be paid.
Paul B, Preston, UK

Yes. Whilst the numbers being quoted in the Parlour case appear ridiculous and excessive, the principle is sound, and if such a huge settlement represents that, then that is fine. Mrs Parlour's role within the marriage (I assume) would have been agreed between both parties. If that is the case, then surely Ray Parlour's ability retain exclusivity to a major part of the matrimonial assets (i.e. his earning potential)would be unfair, and unless other assets of equal value can be found, then Mrs Parlour should be entitled to a share of 'their' future earnings.
Philip, UK

If Mrs Parlour is now acknowledged for her role in her husband's success will she now be liable if, as a consequence of this ruling, his position changes for the worse.
J, South West

This is all the men of this country need to finally kill off marriage
John Patience, England
This is all the men of this country need to finally kill off marriage. Currently we just lose our children our homes and end up with a large maintenance payment. Now we can look forward to losing part of our future income as well. Will I be getting married again, I don't think so.
John Patience, High Wycombe, England

After divorce that should be final and no extra payments (apart from maintenance for kids). Divorce is not fair and cannot be settled fairly. Why should I lose everything if my partner has an affair and leaves me? I'm sure Ray Parlour earns enough not to hugely hit by this ruling (have to settle for just 1m a year then..) but this could have significant effect on ordinary people, mostly men I suspect, who rarely get custody and have to pay maintenance.
Dave, Newcastle, Tyne and Wear

Licence to leech
T. Sebastien, New York USA
As a Brit living in the USA I'm familiar with ridiculous divorce settlements, but Mrs Parlour's good fortune still amazes me. While not diminishing her claims to have helped Ray with his drinking problems, she's clearly revealed that she did so as an investment not out of love and compassion for her partner. She won the lottery when she hooked up with a multi million pound earner, and, thanks to the judge, has now been told she'll win it again every year until the case is reviewed. Professional psychiatrists charge by the hour. You pay, you receive counselling, you shake hands and go. A professional does not then keep charging you if his or her treatment is a success. So why is a self-proclaimed amateur shrink entitled to infinite payment for her alleged advice and support? And how do you quantify and price emotional support anyway? A share of his past earnings is fair enough. Adequate maintenance for their children is essential. But a third of his future earnings to maintain a lifestyle to which she's become accustomed but has not earned is a licence to leech.
T. Sebastien, New York USA

Should such settlements become widespread, then the effect will be negative on the whole institution of marriage. Its not that man doesn't want a stable relationship, they just don't want to get fleeced. You should out with what you came in with, else the reason for marriage could be construed as 'for money'.
Anon, Peterborough

At the moment the law favours women
Ed Manning, Coventry, UK
Marriage should be for life however rich you are. The promises made are about sharing everything for the rest of their lives. As long as you have kept the marriage vows you should be entitled to that looking after. However, if the partner leaves without good reason and terminates the marriage, then they should get nothing. At the moment the law favours women. A man can do nothing wrong be cheated upon, divorced and still pay thousands in maintenance so he has to work for little, and she doesn't have to work at all. That is not justice.
Ed Manning, Coventry, UK

So what happens then if Ray Parlour gets married and divorced 3 times? Will he lose all his future earnings? Its enough to put you off women for life!!
Chris E, Norfolk England

With this ruling the courts are surely implying that Ray Parlour would have been a (financial) failure without his wife's 'assistance'. This seems to me to be a rather big assumption, one which I'd be very unhappy about. Do judges not recognise greed when they see it?
Chris, London

I think it should be based on reasonable needs, rather than simple percentages
Steffan John, Cardiff, Wales
If a husband or wife has had significant loss of earnings due to the marriage - e.g. having to give up a career to move to the partner's job, then that should be taken into account in any settlement, but I think it should be based on reasonable needs, rather than simple percentages. Its hard to see why the husband of Mel B (the former spice girl) should get a seven figure sum, just because he was married to her for a year.
Steffan John, Cardiff, Wales

She is nothing but a parasite - living off his talent, by all means the children should get money but she had enough already. So if she starts a successful business up with that money and Ray Parlour's career ends, is he then entitled to a third of her earnings? I thought not!
Richard Speight, Barnsley, UK

I am in a similar position, my ex wife who has never worked since marriage (although is capable of working) will get one third of my projected salary for the next 10 years, I am now unemployed but still expected to pay the projected figures (presently I am doing this by Bank loans). The apparent reason is because she has now been accustomed to a better lifestyle and MUST be maintained as such. Since she has not worked for the last 27 years (she is 48)she has no "Work skills" any more, although I am out of work this is not taken into account, the ex-husband is the only one who is punished, and the women are getting very good salaries from the ex-husband!
David Sharples, Darlington, Durham

Yet another nail in the marriage coffin
Martin, England
This is yet another nail in the marriage coffin. With 50% of marriages ending in divorce people now face both the dreaded CSA and this. I'm now more sure than ever I never want to marry or have children as I won't be able to afford a new life after any divorce.
Martin, England

I would still prefer "reasonable needs" as a basis for calculation. If making money would be that easy why not make your own with hard work.
U. Borck, Zurich, Switzerland

This case will do nothing to reverse the falling marriage rate. I do think spouses should be entitled to a percentage of income following a divorce, however that should not be a fixed percentage as every case should be viewed on its own merits and facts. In this case I think she already had a more than sufficient offer and it's disgusting that her appeal was successful.

If the wife has contributed to the building of a business or something like that then she deserves a fair share. In the case of the ex-Mrs Parlour, she lived a great life on the back of her husbands footballing talent and I don't see why she is entitled to such a huge settlement.
Gary, Edinburgh, Scotland

If you want to be a part of someone's future then stay married to them!
Pete, Bristol, UK

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14 Nov 03  |  Business
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19 Jan 04  |  Entertainment


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