Her former partner, a banker, dropped his maintenance payments to a bare minimum after being made redundant, despite having a six-figure payout and the strong likelihood of another job in the pipeline. Cooper is now hoping her case may see a change in the law, where redundancy payments can be taken into account as income in child support cases.
“When he left, his attitude was ‘and I’m taking my money with me’. He uses money to punish me. He pays late, he doesn’t pay the right amount, or doesn’t pay at all. He stays in control, and in my life, in a continuation of a very toxic relationship.”
Luckier than many women in the same position, Cooper lost the family home but has a house for herself and her children. “Not that it is an asset I can sell, as we need to live in it,” she said. “My pension is worth £18,000; his is £228,000.
“I know I’m luckier than most – most women I know got nothing, and had to get on with it. Anyone who had a partner who is self-employed is completely screwed. Women who gave up work or financial independence to raise children are just stuffed by divorce.”
Her view is perhaps skewed by her experience, but it does have the heavyweight backing of a new report by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), “Risk, exposure and resilience to risk in Britain today”. The research emphasises that divorce and separation are a significant financial risk to women left “vulnerable” by joint decisions made while they were in a long-term relationship. The average divorced woman has less than a third of the pension wealth of the average divorced man, while 10% more divorced women expect to rely on the state pension than men, 41% of whom have an occupational pension. To compound this issue, women are more likely to have more caring responsibilities, and to suffer mental health problems."
Read article by Tracy McVeigh from The Guardian.