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Specialist family law solicitor, collaborative lawyer and mediator Farhana Shahzady announces today the launch of the Family Law Menopause Project. The project aims to raise awareness amongst the family law community of the impact of menopause so that family lawyers can ensure that their advice leads to the best financial outcome for female clients as they approach retirement.
With the average onset age of perimenopause being 47.5 years, and the average age at which women are divorcing between 45 and 49, women are divorcing at a time when menopause is starting to kick in . While symptoms will vary, 1 in 4 women will experience severe debilitating symptoms while over 60% of women will experience symptoms resulting in behaviour changes. 
The project poses a direct challenge to the controversial Divorce (Financial Provision) Bill which was re-introduced to the House of Lords in July 2021. The Bill, spearheaded by Baroness Deech, and which is opposed by a large cohort of family lawyers, promises to provide greater certainty in relation to the financial outcomes of divorce, including limiting spousal maintenance payments to a term of no more than five years. While the campaign does not seek to discourage financial autonomy, it does seek to halt the downward trend in spousal maintenance payments to save women and their families from financial hardship as they approach retirement.
Farhana Shahzady, Director at London and South East firm Family Law Partners, said:
“My worry as a family lawyer is that my peers, the court and judges assume that women are able to work for longer and have the ability to work full time, instead of acknowledging that hormonal changes may make it very hard for them to do so. 8 out of 10 women will have menopausal symptoms which may have a significant impact on their daily life with the average menopausal period being anywhere between 4-12 years.
Perimenopausal symptoms are often confused with depression and anxiety and it doesn’t help that most GPs do not have menopause training and so it is regularly left untreated. This is creating a perfect storm as women are being squeezed at a time when their biology matrix is changing and affecting their health and ability to work full time and therefore save for a pension. All this is happening when, often, they also have caring responsibilities for children and increasingly elderly parents.
“I believe it’s time for the family law community to ensure that divorce settlements reflect the impact that menopause can have on a woman’s ability to work full or even part-time. While it is important to encourage financial autonomy, I would argue that it’s time to reverse the downward trend in spousal maintenance payments to save women and their families from financial hardship as they approach retirement”.
The project has launched a survey, the first of its kind across the family law profession on the subject of menopause, to uncover trends and insight as to the prevalence of menopause (and peri-menopause) in family law cases.
Family lawyers are invited to take part in a short survey to help form a picture of the impact menopause has on divorce and separation.
The survey can be completed and shared here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FH9TPR7
The project, which has been launched on social media, will shortly be inviting applications from family law professionals and firms to join a team of committed people to drive the campaign forward and raise greater awareness.
People can stay updated with the Project here: