How economically independent are you?
Who is financially responsible for your children’s happiness?
These are two questions that pop up in my practice as a family lawyer all the time.
After a divorce, men are in general financially better off than women. Gender equality in terms of economic independence should therefore be one of the goals of the Dutch government. If the Dutch government really wants to achieve this, a clear vision statement should be developed in cooperation with employers. Merely changing the grounds for alimony is not enough and frankly fails to cover the complexity of the matter. Alimony law is not an emancipation tool in and of itself. Conditions to minimise the marriage-related reduction in earning capacity for women and to increase the possibilities for men to take responsibility for caring for their children, should be created as well.
Of course, the way in which a family chooses to divide the responsibilities for its various tasks goes beyond the bounds of policy. But with the inheritance of ages of policies that have not supported gender equality, some efforts might be expected from politics as well to at least expand upon the options available to families.
Edith van Ruitenbeek is a lawyer and partner at van Hilten de Vries van Ruitenbeek Advocaten en Mediators in The Hague