Sharing Chores – Happy household or divorce risk?
The media has recently reported on a Norwegian study which suggests that the more a man does in the home, the higher the divorce rate (“Divorce risk for couples sharing chores”, The Australian 28 September 2012). In fact, the study found that the divorce rate for couples who share housework equally was about fifty percent higher than for households in which women do most of the chores!
Many people would think that the shift from the “traditional” roles of husband as the breadwinner and wife as the homemaker, to more equal roles, in which household chores are shared, would provide greater harmony in relationships. The Norwegian study however indicates that it may be this enmeshing of roles in a relationship that could lead to increased conflict or “stepping on each other’s toes”.
It is important to note that the study does not indicate a specific cause for the findings, or why the divorce rate could be higher, and we are obviously left to speculate. Is it because the men just can't do the chores to the standards women expect? Or perhaps, the men might be sick of their wives' nagging? We will never know.
From a family law perspective, we do know that the contributions and roles each member of a couple takes in the household will have an impact upon the outcome of a property settlement or matters involving the future care of children of the relationship.
For example, in a relationship where one spouse goes to work and the other stays home to care for the children and maintain the home, each of the spouse’s contributions to the relationship are taken into account.
There are no standard formulas for calculating each person's contribution to the relationship, however financial support, maintaining the home and taking care of the children are all factors used to help determine the outcome of a family law matter if the couple cannot reach a settlement themselves.
If you are going through a separation and would like to discuss how your role in the relationship will impact the resolution of your matter in relation to financial or parenting issues, call to arrange an appointment with one of our experienced family lawyers on (02) 9635 6422.
Despite the relevant law and the findings of the Norwegian study, I think it is safe to say that many people out there might not be impressed if their spouse used the suggested divorce risk as an excuse for not doing the dishes tonight!