Childcare is a significant expense for many families. For 3 and 4 year olds there is now 15 hours free childcare (30 hours for those parents with lower incomes). However, for many working parents, the nurseries offering the 15 hours free do not always fit in with the hours they need to work.
It is therefore, very understandable for parents to consider, particularly when they have a second and a third child later, the costs of childcare are so high that they are actually in a loss making situation by both parents working. If one parent at that stage gives up work they will want to consider the impact of this decision on their future career.
It can be very hard for either parent to consider, at that stage in their lives, whether their marriage will continue. However, for the parent who gives up their career at that stage there can be quite a high price to pay if their marriage should break down at a future time. One parent may have been enabled, particularly by the other staying at home, to progress their own career, leaving them, say, 10 years on in very different positions in relation to their respective incomes.
If there is a divorce at that future time the Court will consider such decisions and will also consider the financial position of the spouse with the lower income. However, the days when the Court made orders for spousal maintenance for life are fading fast and although child maintenance will continue to be paid, spousal maintenance is viewed in the context of when that spouse can reasonably be expected to be financially independent. This includes an expectation of obtaining work and becoming self-sufficient.
If a couple are considering making a significant decision which will effectively prioritise one of their careers over the other, it is possible to have a Post Nuptial Agreement to take this into account if there was a subsequent breakdown of the marriage.