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Man ordered to pay ex-wife $179K for 27 years of housework

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New research has found that if someone you know gets a divorce, your marriage may not be far behind. Tony Spitz has the details.
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A judge ordered an Argentinian man to pay his ex-wife about $179,000 after she left her career to raise their children and do household chores during their decades-long marriage, a landmark ruling in the South American country.

The woman, identified only as M.L., now 70, held an economics degree, news outlet Clarin Sociedad reported, but was too old to find a new job by the time her husband left her. 

When the couple separated, the ruling from the country’s National Appeal Court says the woman faced financial hardship while the man “had a good time.” They married in 1982, separated 27 years later, in 2009, and divorced in 2011.

Judge Victoria Famá said she considered how the woman took care of the household while the man worked to determine the payout of $8 million pesos, or about $179,000. 

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The amount is unprecedented for divorce financial compensation, elDial.com reported. But the unbalanced division of labor during a marriage isn’t uncommon. Argentinian women spend twice the amount of time per day caring for children and doing household chores compared to men, Clarin Sociedad reported. 

“This verdict is very novel because it acknowledges that what we do in our homes is a job, care tasks are a job because they involve time, effort and skill,” Lucia Martelotte, deputy executive director of the Latin American Justice and Gender Team, told the outlet. “But this goes unseen and women do not get a salary for that.”

Martelotte added Argentinian women who bear children face lower employment rates compared to those who don’t, while Argentinian men record higher employment rates than woman overall. 

“The economic dependence of wives on their husbands is one of the central mechanisms through which women are subordinated to society,” the ruling reads. “In most families, women still mainly assume the burden of domestic chores and the care of children, even when they perform some external activity.” 

The judge said someone who had no job training or did not leave a job to fulfill household duties would not be entitled to the same compensation as M.L. 

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