I was so, so, sorely tempted to pinch Giles Fraser’s brilliant headline in The Guardian yesterday – ‘The politics of shit and semen‘. Kudos to the Guardian for even allowing the headline!
Giles was talking about the inability of #occupylsx to clear up their own mess in one square mile even whilst loudly pontificating on their credentials for clearing up the mess the entire country is in, but it would have been just as appropriate for this post.
I may have discovered an unexpected fringe benefit that might bring me in full support of Gay marriage. Settle down for a
shirt up lifting tale.
Wending its way through the civil courts at the moment, is a most uncivilised ‘divorce’ between two ‘civil’ partners. Peter Lawrence and Donald Gallagher. Sadly, their civil partnership broke down after a mere 7 months, albeit that they had been in some sort of a relationship for 11 years.
Mr Lawrence was a city analyst with the high income that brings. Mr Gallagher had acted a part in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, but apart from that had spent most of his time in their home playing Queen of the Dessert.
Mr Gallagher brought into the civil partnership some £40,000 he had either accumulated in his previous sporadic acting ‘career’ or from previous relationships, we know not which. Mr Lawrence, by comparison, had cash and assets amounting to several million pounds.
No fault divorce was an excellent idea – and I say that as someone who got caught on the wrong end of it, and ended up handing several hundred thousand pounds to someone I had barely seen in the previous 20 years – but on the basis that the equal division of assets was fair on the ending of most marriages, which required support for the children of that marriage, and generally required recognition that most wives give up their career to raise children, I supported it through gritted teeth. Far better that there should be a few ‘unfair’ cases than that the majority of cases should drag through the courts for years.
If it had been possible to amend that law so that where there were no children, there was no equal division of assets, on the basis that you were both perfectly healthy adults capable of supporting yourself, then I would have been in total agreement. A childless marriage was and is relatively rare. A marriage where it is the wife who earns the money rarer still. The faint whinny of complaint from those of us on the sharp end of this ‘equal division’ of assets were never likely to make ourselves heard.
However, a new and more powerful voice, one that has spent years honing itself to screeching point, is about to enter the fray.
The howl of outrage of a wealthy partner forced to hand over £1.7 million quid to a man who has been sharing his bed for seven months.
The justification for the original settlement was that Mr Gallagher was entitled to continue ‘to live in the manner to which he has become accustomed’ – and required £28,000 a year for life in order to do so. Many an embittered husband or wife will sympathise with Mr Lawrence. I certainly do – why should someone continue to be supported for the rest of their life in the manner they have enjoyed for a few months? Children, yes. Inevitably that includes those who care for them living at a similar level.
The appeal court are now reserving judgment on Mr Lawrence’s offer of a lump sum of £620,000, which still seems excessive.
Gay marriage will inevitably increase the number of childless marriages that break down – and may well bring a call for a rethink of the equal division of assets and pensions when two healthy adults share their life for a short period and then decide to move on. Neither Marriage nor Civil Partnership should be a reason for someone who has chosen (ie not forced upon them by child rearing) to spend their time during the relationship – I quote – “helping create and maintain a lovely home in the flat in various ways, soft furnishings, planting on balconies, improvement of layout and fixtures, redecoration.”
Re-potting the Dahlias is not a good enough reason to be kept for the rest of your life.