The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 says that when people in a relationship separate, they should each get an equal share of the property connected with that relationship.
But equal sharing will not always mean that partners leave the relationship on an equal footing.
In some relationships, the partners take on different roles, which can leave one of them financially worse off. One partner may care for children and the home while the other continues in paid work. Or one partner might stop studying and work in a low-paying job to support the other partner’s study or training.
When the relationship ends, one partner will continue to enjoy the benefits of a better career. The other partner will not have the same advantages because he or she has sacrificed work or study opportunities.
The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 tries to address situations where the partners’ income and living standards are very different because of the way they took on different roles during the relationship. The Act says a court can order the partner with the better income and living standards to pay compensation to the other partner.
There are several problems with a court’s power to award compensation. Compensation is difficult to claim and the purpose of the compensation is unclear.
The law can be better. We have some suggestions. We want to know what you think about them.