Care giving may mean taking over affairs that the husband took care of before. Such a change in roles may cause anger, pain, conflicts, and confusions for both husband and wife, adding even more stresses to an already stressful situation. In a marriage, spouses often act as loving fathers or mothers to one another during times of stress, uncertainty, or illness. When the husband becomes so ill that he cannot share in making decisions, the wife’s sole responsibility becomes permanent. Wives may feel guilty if at times they wish for their husbands’ or a parent’s death and resent the continuing need for care. For those women who have stayed married despite unhappy marriages, care giving is even harder. To all the other stresses are added resentment over [Read more...]
Increasingly, communities are recognizing that elders need a continuum of services, including preventive care and health promotion for healthy elders; community and home-based services to support frail elders to live on their own or with relatives or friends who are their caregivers; and institutional or home care for those who need twenty-four– hour care. We hope that the full range or continuum of elder services will be integrated into a national health-care system. All care- givers need help in the form of time off, emotional and social support, and financial assistance, including federal and state aid for home care. Many communities have such services but face problems of funding programs and training workers. Locating services and getting to the [Read more...]
If you are the caregiver for an older person or if you yourself could use some additional care, there are a variety of services available.
• In-home care services may include skilled nursing care, physical, occupational, and speech/language therapy, social work, case management, mental health assessment, and the provision of certain medical supplies. Agencies that provide such services usually operate under the direction of a social worker, nurse, or other health professional and may be licensed by the state. There is a service fee, sometimes sliding or adjustable; some agencies take third-party payments, Medicare, and Medicaid. [Read more...]
Traditional wisdom has it that sound retirement finances are like a stool with three legs. The three legs of the retirement stool are assets (such as savings or a house), pension payments, and Social Security benefits. However, because of economic discrimination, all three legs of the stool are rickety for older women. Assets are the most obviously wobbly leg. Since women earn less than men, it’s no surprise that we have little chance to accumulate savings. Very few women over sixty-five are receiving income from savings accounts, and even fewer have income from investments. For many of us, our sole asset is our house. Not only is it difficult to cash in this asset but it costs money to keep it up. Reverse mortgages have been one way for women to get out of this [Read more...]
Matrimonial property such as the family home or family income is regarded as an ‘asset’ of the marriage. Nonetheless, under English law, property owned by either spouse before the marriage does not become owned jointly, in other words there is no ‘community of property’ between husband and wife as exists in certain other legal systems. For example, if a wife inherits her mother’s house, she can then dispose of it, sell it; leave it in her will to her children or to her favorite charity without consulting her husband. It remains her sole property throughout her lifetime. If the marriage breaks down, however, this seemingly clear doctrine. I.e. that there is no community of property in English law, becomes less clear-cut. Inroads have been made into the principle because the courts have such very extensive powers under statute to intervene, where there is a dispute in divorce proceedings over ‘who gets what’. The judges have at their disposal wide-ranging court orders which enable them to redistribute assets, whether owned by the husband or the wife in a manner that they think is ‘fair and reasonable’.
Not only does property such as the matrimonial home, as well as family income, become an ‘asset’ of the marriage but, on its breakdown, other meaningful assets can become subject to court orders in the court’s endeavor to reach an equitable division between the parties. Another important exception to the doctrine that there is no community of property in English law is found in the intestacy rules. These allow a surviving spouse to inherit a large proportion of an estate where the deceased husband or wife left no will.
The matrimonial home
Irrespective of questions of whether she owns or part-owns the family home, a wife was given the right to occupy the matrimonial home under the Matrimonial Homes Act 1983. This right of occupation under earlier legislation is now re-enacted in the Family Law Act 1996 where the right to occupy and register it as a charge — so that it is valid against third parties — is now called ‘matrimonial home rights.’ This right of occupation applies to the matrimonial home only, although other property may be subject to a court order in a final divorce settlement.
Pledging the matrimonial home
Over the last ten years, there have been a number of cases which have involved a husband who has persuaded his wife to pledge the matrimonial home with his bank against his business debts. Your husband has run into financial difficulties in his business. He has asked you to come to the bank with him to sign a guarantee to the bank for extra funds for his business. The bank has asked that your family house, which you own jointly with your husband, should be given as collateral for the loan and has prepared forms for you to sign to that effect. You are reluctant to sign but are very anxious not to let your husband down. You must take legal advice. The courts have taken a protective attitude towards married women in these circumstances. They have recognized that while the pattern of family life has changed and that some women can exert their independence, others are vulnerable to their husband’s influence. The overriding consideration for the courts is whether a woman who appears to be acting in a way which is to her manifest disadvantage, is given an opportunity to exercise an independent judgment before committing herself to giving their home as collateral for her husband’s debts. Where banks or other lenders have reason to think that a husband has prevailed upon his wife through emotional pressure into pledging the matrimonial home, they are under a duty to
• have an interview alone with the wife
• explain to her what acting as a surety entails
• warn her of the risks to the property
• tell her to seek independent advice.
Lawyers who are consulted by the wife are also under a duty
• to advise on the nature of the charge
• to satisfy themselves that the wife is free from her husband’s ‘undue influence’
• not to proceed further with the transaction if they take the view that it is not in the wife’s interests to enter into the mortgage.
Husband and wife automatically acquire parental responsibility for the children of their marriage. but it is worth noting that parental responsibility covers such basic concerns as decisions over the children’s religion, education, consent to marriage etc. If the parents separate, of course, the courts can be asked to alter the relationship between parent and child: for example, the courts can determine the question of how much contact a divorced father or mother should have with their children although both will be expected to continue to share parental responsibility. The obligation to maintain their children survives a marriage breakdown.
Tax position of husband/wife
in 1990, the tax laws were changed so that husband and wife now have separate tax identities. Instead of the married man’s allowance, there is now a married couple’s allowance which is transferable between the spouses. Until 1990, husband and wife had been taxed as one person, unless the wife opted to have her earnings separately taxed; even then, her unearned income was still treated as the income of her husband. Gifts between husband and wife are not liable to capital gains tax.