Divorce impoverishes women

Divorce impoverishes women

Women who separate from their spouse or divorce their husband are exposed to a 20% risk of insecurity, compared to 8% for men. This is the conclusion of a recent survey carried out by the Observatory for the Economic Emancipation of Women.

Within heterosexual couples, economic inequalities between men and women widen at the time of cohabitation and the arrival of children. But it is when the life of a couple ends that they manifest themselves most strongly. According to a note published in mid-March by the Observatory for the Economic Empowerment of Women (Women’s Foundation) entitled “The cost of divorce”, 20% of women fall into poverty at the time of divorce or separation. Among mothers, this percentage increases to 34%. It also hits women aged 60 or over hard, who suffer an estimated 31% loss of income. But this economic weakening is not immediate: on the contrary, it is progressive. “Divorce or separation are often indicative of pre-existing mechanisms of precariousness. Marriage is very often a spiral of poverty for women,” underlines the note, written by Lucile Peytavin (historian and essayist) and Hélène Gherbi (founder of the investment platform for women Femca).

The arrival of the first child constitutes one of the main factors contributing to the precariousness of women: it leads to a drop in income of around 25% in the five years that follow. “For women with the lowest salaries, this gap can even go up to 40%,” specifies the note from the Women’s Foundation, which is based on an estimate taken from an INSEE report published in 2019 However, starting a family is not the only factor that amplifies the economic vulnerability of women. The note clearly refers to “to the sexism that irrigates our laws, our practices and our judicial institutions“. Administrative sexism, which is illustrated in particular by the combination of social assistance benefits, which women can obtain after a divorce, but subsequently lose, for example if they remarry. “If you have a very low income but your partner earns a good living, the State assumes that marital solidarity applies: you may not receive help because your partner can take care of you. This creates a dynamic of female-male dependency, given that women earn the least in three-quarters of couples.“.

The report also points to the insufficient system for awarding financial assistance, commonly called “alimony”, paid to the parent who obtains sole custody of the child (most often the mother) and the amount of which is calculated according to of the non-custodial parent’s income and not based on the child’s needs. The average amount of this contribution amounts to 170 euros per month on average per child, an amount well below the child’s needs, which would amount to at least 625 euros per month, according to a study by the economist French Antoine Math. “This inevitably places the burden on the guardian parent of having to compensate as best they can for this shortfall, and places many single-parent families in situations of inextricable precariousness.“, deplore the authors of the note.

To reduce these inequalities, the report concludes with a suggestion of political measures to be put in place, such as the creation of the status of single parent and the taking into account of this status for the allocation of social housing, the de-conjugalization of allowances family benefits and the family support allowance or the creation of a scale for the calculation of compensatory benefits and the tax exemption of alimony.

10 tips for a successful divorce

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