Menopause and Divorce Settlements
Monday, April 24, 2023
Monday, April 24, 2023
Whilst there is an increasing awareness of the impact that the menopause can have on a woman’s health, there is a lack of awareness as to how the menopause interrelates with divorce settlements.
The menopausal transition for women usually begins between ages 45 and 55. It can last for many years. Symptoms can include anxiety, depression, brain fog, insomnia and fatigue amongst other things. Most divorcees are now in their 40’s which means the majority of divorcing women are potentially menopausal women.
Despite this, rarely do we see menopause mentioned as part of financial settlement discussions and/or financial proceedings.
Menopause can and does impact upon a women’s employment. A recent study found a staggering 44% of menopausal women have been less productive at work, with increasing rates of absenteeism, and some women leaving work prematurely due to severe menopausal symptoms.
Failure to take into consideration the impact of the menopause on women’s income and earning capacity potentially disadvantages those women in terms of receiving a fair financial settlement.
Our former client, Katherine, shares her story;
Having separated from my husband, I was struggling with a low mood and exhaustion. I put this down to the emotional toll of the breakdown of my marriage. But as the months passed, my mental health deteriorated further to the extent I was suffering with panic attacks and agoraphobia and was unable to leave home and go to work. My GP told me that once the divorce was finalised she expected my health would improve.
One day, out of the blue, my solicitor asked me whether I had been through the menopause. I was a bit taken aback, after all I was only 45 years old. But it prompted me to do a bit of research and consult my GP again to revisit the cause of my symptoms.
Within a matter of weeks I had been diagnosed as being menopausal.
I was told my fatigue, panic attacks and agoraphobia were all symptomatic of the menopause. Whilst relieved to have a diagnosis, I was naturally anxious as to how long the menopause would last and whether my symptoms would indeed get worse. For financial reasons, I desperately needed to return to work. I was consumed with worry about how I was going to be able to afford to keep the family home without my usual income.
With the help of my solicitor, the financial settlement I reached with my husband ensured I had sufficient income, both now and in the future, in the event the symptoms of the menopause prevented me from returning to work full-time.
The usual “financial clean break” was delayed, for several years (with an option to extend it) in the event that I was unable to return to work. I am thankful that this was factored into my divorce settlement, as it was a further 2 years before I was able to return to work. I am pleased to say that I am now back to work full-time and financially independent.
If you would like further advice on the menopause and divorce, please email us in the strictest of confidence at email@example.com or call 0191 232 8451.