Yes, I think it's unfair to have to maintain a spouse for an indefinite period of time. It flouts the fairness principle to my mind by not considering the fact that the receiving spouse may be earning an income and able to support themselves at some point.
Of course, I am at the other end of the maintenance order connundrum and although I have not been divorced that long, I would not have been able to look after my son had it not been for the generosity of my ex husband in this regard.
One of the great difficulties relates to child rearing. A lot of mums, even working ones (which I am also)elect to work part time because they feel they need to 'be there' for their children. This of course compromises their earning ability and more often than not means that their standard of living is very low. Alternatively some mums (we'll stick with the conventional stereotype for now!), who go to work full time, find that all of their income goes towards nannies and babysitting fees and many feel exasperated that not only do they have to forego being with their little ones but they effectively have to forego any benefit from their income.
To my mind family law is amazing because it truly involves itself in every aspect of government: finance, economy, education and much more.
I do think when I hear anxieties about the system that everyone has a point - it's invariable as the system is a bit rickety to say the least! But I very much hope that personal bias can be lent to the many pieces of the puzzle and allow us to look at the entire problem, in all its hideous glory!
Trying to find out just how many orders are made is impossible term or joint lives, the main reason being that the vast majority of orders are not imposed at a final hearing, they are by consent without court or during the court process right up to the point the judge gives a last chance to settle.
Clean Breaks will and should never be a one size fits all solution, family circumstances are far to diverse for such a simple answer.
For example you meet and fall in love with say a lady who has never worked and could never due to a disability, years pass divorce happens, should the tax payer pay the wife? well yes is the husbands income does not allow him to contribute but if he can afford it then maintenance is the answer, its an oversimplification i agree but the principle is sound.
The real controversy surrounds joint lives orders ending on death or the remarriage of the recipient, just how long should they last?, is it right that potentially the payer could be paying maintenance into retirement perhaps 20 or 30 years after the marriage ended? personally i would like to see orders end at retirement to allow the payer to enjoy the fruits of their labour for the end chapter of their life unless of course the payer is wealthy.
These issues will rumble on and i doubt very much will change maybe some tinkering but not much else, though i do agree it wont change unless us the great unwashed push the movers and shakers to effect change.
I've been wondering about how much peers and MPs considering and eventually deciding how family breakdown should be dealt with understand about the human processes involved - I read an article today by Baroness Deech about Lord Scarman's influence on her when she worked at the Law Commission - www.guardian.co.uk/law/2011/jan/20/lord-...brixton-human-rights
"Scarman personally assigned me to the family law team, where he used to test out concepts of marital fault on me as a female about to marry, as the rest of the team sat around the table. He took gentle delight in teasing me about my wedded life to come.
Despite this being my first interaction with family law, I went on to lecture at Oxford in 1970 and was immediately called upon to teach the subject. Most of my academic career centred on this aspect of the law and my attitudes were entirely shaped by my experience with him."
It dawned on me that she has never practised family law face to face with people in the middle of divorce.
I would like to see Marilyn Stowe advising the politicians and peers: www.marilynstowe.co.uk/2011/01/17/what-p...he-first-wives-club/