The Struggle for Relationship Property

Recognising Intangible Investments and Challenging Patriarchal Norms & Understandings When A Relationship Fails

Sacha | The Justice Lark


Photo by Mathieu Stern on Unsplash

Amidst the intricacies of family court dynamics lies the contentious issue of relationship property.

When two lives, intertwined in love, partnership, and mutual responsibilities, separate, the division of relationship property stands as one of the most vexed processes in the legal world.

It’s not just about the assets either; it’s about respect, recognition, and, too often, it becomes a silent battlefield for power.

On the surface, relationship property law might appear to be a realm of objective fairness. There are laws, formulas, and precedents, all intricately woven together in the name of equity.

But peel back these layers, and one often discovers that the foundational principles are riddled with gendered imbalances, inherited patriarchal norms, and biases that lean heavily against the woman, especially in the Western world.

It starts simply. The house, the car, the bank accounts — these tangible assets make up the core of what’s divided. But, how do you quantify years of intangible investments?

The sacrifices made to raise children, the career opportunities lost, the hours poured into maintaining a home, the emotional labor, and the forfeited personal aspirations?

The law, for all its black-and-white parameters, struggles to encapsulate the vast expanse of grey.

Women, more often than not, find themselves at a disadvantage in this arena. While societal norms have evolved, women still predominantly bear the brunt of domestic responsibilities.

The choice to step back from careers to cater to family needs often leaves women economically vulnerable post-separation. When relationship property is divided, this economic vulnerability is magnified.

Far too frequently, women find themselves grappling with systems that favour financial contributions over domestic ones.

A higher earning spouse, generally the man, might argue his greater contribution to the financial pool, sidelining the non-monetary…



Sacha | The Justice Lark

Passionate writer and researcher focused on promoting justice and equity, with emphasis on issues related to gender-based violence, trauma & mental health.