During the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of men taking on the role of a "house husband". The migration of employees working from home has contributed to this, with more workforces offering flexible working and an increasing number of fathers becoming more involved with parenting and household duties. 

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Paternity leave

Although there has been a rise in the number of house husbands, there is still a disparity in relation to paternity and maternity leave. However, the welcomed introduction of "shared parental leave" demonstrates the recognition that men are just as capable as women of parenting children. Every family should have the autonomy to take that decision based on their individual circumstances. 

As the father of a child, a man is entitled to 1 or 2 weeks of paternity leave when the mother has a baby. This is also the case in relation to adoption. There are certain requirements you need to meet to qualify for paternity pay:

  • The employer will need to be provided with the correct period of notice before taking paternity leave (at least fifteen weeks before the baby is due)
  • The father needs to be the biological father or partner to the baby's mother.
  • By the end of the twenty-first week of pregnancy, the father needs to have been with his current employer for at least six and a half months. 

Shared parental leave and pay

The law changed in 2015 with the introduction of "shared parental leave". There has been a rise in the number of parents taking shared parental leave and pay, especially as more men take on the role of house husbands. 

If you or your partner are expecting a baby, there is the option to convert the maternity leave and pay into shared parental leave and pay, giving parents far more flexibility to take leave in the first year after the birth of their child.

The Family Court's attitude to men's contribution to the family 

On relationship breakdown, there is a myth that the Family Court favours the mother and that a "house husband" will not be protected by the law in the same way as a "housewife." This is a misconception.

In financial remedy proceedings, the court must have regard to a range of factors that are set out in section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. One of those factors is the contributions that each party has made or is likely to make in the foreseeable future to the welfare of the family. This includes any contribution in relation to the home or caring for the family. 

The court does not discriminate between the breadwinner and the homemaker; generally speaking, the court is reluctant to allow a detailed analysis of the parties' contributions. A party trying to persuade a court that there should be a departure from equality on the basis they have made a more significant contribution to the welfare of the family by virtue of being the breadwinner is very unlikely to succeed. 

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Spousal maintenance 

As part of financial remedy proceedings, the court can order one party to pay the other a weekly or monthly sum. The court considers the financial resources each party has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future. If you do not work and have responsibilities as the primary carer for the children, the court will consider this when deciding whether spousal maintenance payments are reasonable. 

There should be no prejudice regarding how the court approaches cases in respect of house husbands and housewives. In considering spousal periodical payments, the court will have regard to earning capacity, the parties' age, qualifications, role in the marriage, whether you are the primary carer for the children, work experience and the length of time since you were in the workplace. 

Children proceedings 

There is a common misconception in children's proceedings that shared care equates to exactly 50% of the child's time. The reality is that when parents cannot reach an agreement regarding arrangements for the children, they may need to apply to the court for a children's arrangements order. The court will look at the individual circumstances of the case and what is in the child's best interest in terms of a realistic arrangement. 

When dealing with issues relating to children, the court will consider the Children Act 1989 and the welfare checklist. One of the factors the court will consider is the ability of each parent to meet the child's needs. The court will ensure that a child's needs can be put first and the needs can be met on a daily basis. The court will consider the factors and circumstances of the case, and there is no presumption that one parent is better placed to meet a child's needs compared to the other.

If you are unable to resolve disagreements about parenting after separation, we recommend in the first instance that you attend mediation with your ex-partner in an attempt to resolve those difficulties. If your partner is unwilling to attend mediation and is not offering you as much time as you would like to spend with your child, you need to seek immediate legal advice, as delay will not assist you in securing your parental rights. 

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If you have any more questions or would like more information, you can get in touch with our Family Law Solicitors below.

0161 941 4000