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Joshua Rozenberg
Monday 12th October 2009
Ex-Wives Get Too Much

A divorced spouse should not be maintained by her former husband unless she is unable to work or has the care of young children, a leading academic lawyer will say today.

But Baroness Deech, in the second of her Gresham lectures, admits that this is an "extreme view, which will never hold sway".

The former university principal also argues also argues that maintenance should come to an end if the wife cohabits with another man - rather than when she remarries, as at present.

It is no wonder that England is the divorce capital of Europe and out of step with other European countries, Lady Deech says. 

"The notion that a wife should get half of the joint assets of a couple after even a short childless marriage has crept up on us without any Parliamentary legislation to this effect.

"The judges have developed the law in a paternalistic and unprincipled fashion that has departed widely from Parliamentary intentions; they have largely ignored the statutory direction to achieve a ‘clean break' wherever possible; and predicting what the judge might decide has been rendered an expensive element for the couple. 

The lecture is free to attend and open to all. It's at the Museum of London at 1 pm today.

If you can't make it, I recommend you read the text of Lady Deech's remarks here.

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About Joshua Rozenberg

Joshua Rozenberg is an independent legal commentator who presents Law in Action on BBC Radio 4.

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