Family Law Blog

Following separation – Does maternity leave mean you are left out?

Posted by on 30 Aug 2011

 

It seems that we still can’t get enough of all the ‘post baby bodies’.

I’m into fashion and beauty as much as the next person but in the last couple of weeks it seemed that no matter which channel I tuned into, there was Miranda Kerr showing her post baby non-existent bump. Which in turn lead to images or footage of Doutzen Kroes, Eva Herzigova and Heidi Klum also parading to prove the possibility of strutting the catwalks only two months after giving birth.

During this maternity media frenzy I came across an article in the Sydney Morning Herald which discussed not only the reasons behind these new catwalk mums being able to regain their pre-baby bodies (it is their established pre-natal exercise routines if you are wondering) but how motherhood has become beautiful and glamorous now after a period of appalling avoidance.

It was more than satisfying to see that while the fashion world may just be coming to terms with the fact that motherhood is not something to be ashamed of, the Legal domain has given mothers their due credit for decades!

In the eyes of the law, a homemaker is treated equally to a breadwinner. In Family Law there are clauses that provide some weight on the scales for the party that was taking care of the children while their spouse worked; for the disparity in incomes that may arise from taking time off work to look after the children; and for those left with the majority care of the children following separation.

For example, in a recent case the Family Court took the following factors into account, among others, when determining a just and equitable division of the property:

  • The wife’s contribution as homemaker, which included the time she took off work following the birth of the children 
  • The husband’s earning capacity as opposed to that of the wife (which was considerably less than his). The wife noted that due to her immersion in the family business she lost a lot of her accounting skills 
  • That the wife has major responsibility for the care of the children and that will continue for many years. The Court noted that “even taking account of the child support the husband pays in respect of the children; he will not have anything like the parenting responsibility which the wife faces for many years yet.”  

You might say ‘but this is what is to be expected from the Law, ’however I always find it reassuring to know that when striving to create laws for the future, the law is always tapping into the wisdom well of the past instead of the whimsical whims of human nature.