The Association of Family Lawyers, Inheritance and Divorce Mediators (vFAS) sees an increase in cohabitants experiencing problems upon separation. Especially since many spouses cannot properly legally arrange their affairs.
Today, a million couples live together without a “butter bill.” In 400,000 cases they have children. In 1995, only 12 percent of cohabitants were unmarried. In 2021, that will double to 24 percent.
Nothing is tidy
Alexander Luftnik, head of vFAS, sees a tendency to marry less quickly. “They live together informally. So they are not married, but they behave like this: they buy a house, a car, together they go into a bank account, they have children.” This goes well during the relationship, but as the two break up, the association increasingly sees problems. “Because nothing has been arranged.”
One-third to one-half of all cohabiting relationships end in divorce. The numbers show that if you’re not married, you’re more likely to break up. And then the problems can be serious.
He would often say: Money is yours too, not just mine.
Bram Hoogendoorn received his Ph.D. this month on “Divorce and Inequality.” “In fact, we see that women suffer the consequences of divorce across the board. High and low educated. Less educated women often end up below the poverty line,” Hoogendoorn says. Of those, 58 percent fall below the poverty line in the year of divorce.” It is mainly women who have children.
“Highly educated women are less likely to fall into the poverty line, but their incomes fall the most. They often have a man who earns too much and gives up (part of) his career,” Hoogendoorn explains.
in good faith
It happened to Anne-Greet List. She has been with her partner for 28 years and has three daughters. Her partner had to travel abroad a lot for work, so she stayed home to take care of her children and family. “We were getting married when the kids were here. Three bridesmaids. But that didn’t happen.”
Everything went in good faith. “He would often say, ‘The money belongs to you too, it is not only my money.’ It wasn’t until her husband left her that Listh realized that everything was in his name. She deserves nothing: neither spousal maintenance nor part of his due pension.” I am in Actually homeless now. I live in a mobile home with my two daughters for two weeks. It’s small, my only daughter sleeps on the sofa, but we have to manage.”
The Matrimonial Property Law was there to provide security for the weaker party.
List example does not stand alone. Luftink: “I see many cases of people who have been together for 20 years and then do not realize that they are not entitled to anything. In marriage it is very clear what the rules are, how it is divided, what rights and what obligations. This is not the case with worshippers. “
He cites some examples. “If you buy a house together, who pays the costs? Who will stay in the house? If the person takes care of the children and starts to work less, is the partner entitled to a pension? And on the accumulated capital?” All practical problems that people usually do not think about, but face when they break up.
According to Luftink, the current legislation is no longer up to date because more and more people are living together without being married. “The Marriage Property Act was in place to provide security for the weaker party, especially people with children. Now that there are fewer people getting married, there is a very large group of informal cohabitants who are not protected.”
According to him, the solution is to introduce alimony rights for cohabitants or the right to the accrued capital. “If you have been together for a long time, and have children, you should be more towards equal opportunities for all. In some countries there is already cohabiting legislation, such as Scotland.”
List is now looking for a home in Harlemmer for her and her daughters. But this is not so easy. “Finding a job was fast. I’m working in education again. I should have done it much earlier.”
She has sage advice to her daughters: “Take care of your money and put on paper who’s on paper so you don’t get the short straw.” List can stay at the camp until October. After that, the camp site will be closed. “It is still an uncertain trying time.”