A millstone around the neck? Stereotypes about wives and myths about divorce
Keywords:financial provision on divorce, Mills v Mills, gold-digger, alimony drone, meal ticket for life, judicial notice, nuptial agreements, financial settlements
This article examines the effect of and connection between stereotypes about wives and myths about financial provision on divorce. It is based on an assessment of press reports on Mills v Mills which have fuelled calls for reform of the law of financial provision on divorce, most notably the Divorce (Financial Provision) Bill 2017–2019. It argues that gendered stereotypes about wives (such as ‘alimony drone’, ‘gold-digger’ and ‘meal ticket for life’) inhibit shifts towards substantive equality for women. These gendered stereotypes have not only framed the debate, creating a non-existent problem for reform proposals to solve, but have also affected the way in which individuals form family law agreements, which is important given the current policy emphasis on private ordering. The article concludes by proposing that reflexive engagement with stereotypes about wives should be an important part of judicial reasoning.