A Bill which would limit the extent of maintenance payments a former partner can make has passed its second reading in the House of Lords.

It is led by Baroness Ruth Deech, who called for judges to stop acting under the pretence of “antiquated notions of chivalry” when awarding women maintenance payments which continue for years after separation.

She said the Bill would reflect legislation in Scotland, the rest of Europe and North America, where a limit is already set on the length of maintenance payments.

She further argued that the Bill would support women’s equality, and that many in fact go on to earn good salaries despite continuing to receive payments from their former partners.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Baroness Deech said: “Our judges are being very old fashioned I’m afraid. They are over-chivalrous and the way they were in the 19th century. People wonder why, 15 years after a marriage has ended, one person has to keep paying money to another.

“If there is one thing that stops women getting back on their feet and being treated seriously and equally at work, it is the assumption throughout the legal system that once a woman is married she is somehow disabled and incapable ever of managing on her own for the rest of her life. It is a very serious impediment to equality.”

The Bill, now forwarded to the Committee stage, would also extend the payment of maintenance for children to the age of 21 to cover higher education.