Property Settlements

Are Men Worse Off After Divorce?

There is a common theory that men are left worse off after divorce, but is that really the case? The TGB family law team look at the facts.

There is a common theory that men are left worse off after divorce, but is that really the case? We look at the facts.

Family law, as with many branches of law, is an area where it is impossible to please everyone. Inevitably, a gender divide occurs and regardless of what the Court may do, often one party (and consequently, one gender) will not like the result.

A man getting “the short end of the stick” in family law matters is a widespread assumption made by the general public. It is a commonly spread suggestion, that the male will be “taken to the cleaners” by their ex-wife or de-facto and that she will be entitled to a larger portion of the matrimonial assets. Whether that occurs by the wife being entitled to monies that were primarily gathered by the husband through his continued employment or by the husband being dissatisfied with the living arrangements of the children, the idea that men “can’t win” when it comes to family law continues. This idea is often accompanied by the misconception that the Court have a bias view against males in family law and this essentially creates a distorted view of the processes in place. This can leave many people (particularly males) feeling daunted.

Men have just as many rights in family law matters as women do and the Court does not favour genders. What is considered by the Court (and implemented into the Family Law Act 1975) is first and foremost, if there are children involved, that their interests be paramount. As such, the personal circumstances and the working and living arrangements of each party may be considered when making orders in respect of the children. For example, if the mother was not in the workforce and was therefore able to care for the children while the father was working fulltime, the Court will take this into consideration.  In relation to property settlement matters, the Court will consider the future needs of each party when making orders. This may include, but is not limited to, the prospects of the future earning capacity of either of the parties, the level of skills, training and qualifications of the parties and the ongoing caring responsibilities of any children?

History suggests that men are inclined to financially recover much faster than women following the breakdown of a relationship. This is particularly the case in families where the male worked fulltime and the female had homemaker duties. This may also be attributed to the fact that men have been able to further their careers uninterrupted by domestic duties and childbearing.

The opposite is quite often true for females and accordingly, the Court takes the potential future earning capacity of both parties into consideration when making Orders. For example, a person who has little experience in the workforce with no formal qualifications and principally attended to the domestic duties in the former matrimonial home during the marriage will have less capacity to earn significantly as opposed to someone who has an established career. Notably, it is not always the female who was the principal homemaker and quite often, the roles are reversed.

In any event, the Court will take into consideration the circumstances and commitments of each party when making orders and a duty is owed to both parties for orders to be made which are just and equitable. It is important to seek legal advice if you are unsure about how your particular circumstances might affect your family law matter.


TGB is South Australia’s largest family law firm. For advice, contact your nearest TGB office