Myth or truth in divorce: the man must support his ex-wife.
11 September 2023
No, of course not. Whether or not someone is entitled to maintenance or has an obligation to provide maintenance is, of course, a gender-neutral concept.
Solidarity between partners during marriage.
In practice, spouses sometimes organize themselves in the interest of the family, with one partner, for example, putting their career aside to take care of the children while the other partner continues to work to support the family.
As long as everything goes well between the couple, there are, of course, no problems. But what if it leads to a divorce? This could result in very unfair situations.
For this reason, the legislator has provided that the solidarity that must exist between partners during a marriage should also continue after the divorce. This is done through the possible payment of a personal maintenance allowance.
The personal maintenance allowance after divorce is provided for in Article 301 (old) of the Civil Code.
Article 301 (old) of the Civil Code states that the needy spouse can request a maintenance allowance from the other spouse.
To be eligible for a maintenance allowance, you must meet certain conditions.
Firstly, you must be in need.
This has nothing to do with poverty or receiving a minimum wage.
In this context, need is a relative concept. We cannot assign a specific income figure to it. Your situation, social status, but also how luxuriously you lived as a married couple are taken into account.
To determine whether the state of need has already been covered, consideration is given to:
- The incomes and possibilities of the spouses.
- The significant decline in the economic situation.
To evaluate this decline, factors such as the duration of the marriage, the age of the parties, their behavior during the marriage regarding the organization of family life, and the care of the children during cohabitation or afterward are taken into account.
Only if there is a significant decline and there is a significant difference in your financial situation compared to your ex-partner’s financial situation can you be eligible for a maintenance allowance.
In some situations, it would not be reasonable to have to pay for your ex-partner. For example, in a situation where your ex has left with someone else.
There are three main categories of exceptions.
1. Serious fault: If there is a serious fault that has made cohabitation impossible, such as adultery, the court may refuse the request for maintenance. Note that the court may refuse the allowance in these situations but is not required to do so. It is ultimately the judge who decides.
2. Partner violence: An exception is also provided for those who have been victims of partner violence (such as rape, attempted rape, intentional assault and battery, attempted manslaughter or murder). A conviction is generally required. There must be a judgment confirming that your ex has been found guilty of one of these offenses against you.
3. The state of need is a result of a self-made choice: In this case, the allowance can also be refused. For example, if your ex-partner has decided to stop working without reason, just because he/she no longer felt like it. In such a case, the request for a maintenance allowance may be rejected. However, it may also happen that the court, in these situations, sets the amount lower and does not completely abolish the allowance. Again, the judge has discretion to decide.
The myth that “as a man, you always have to support your ex-wife” is therefore absolutely untrue.
Not only can men be required to pay maintenance to their ex-wives, but women can also be required to pay maintenance to their ex-husbands!
All the above rules and principles are gender-neutral and apply to both men and women. Not only can men be high earners, but women can also have successful careers.
Moreover, you do not always have to pay a maintenance allowance to your ex-partner in the event of a divorce, even if you are the most financially capable!
Our Family Law team can always work with you to assess your situation in the event of a possible divorce.