This is an old post I thought would be appropriate to re-post again particularly since I am reading about so many men who have contributed little or nothing to their families filing and receiving spousal support and/or alimony.
We need to remind Judges of the historical origins of spousal support and alimony and why it is rarely justified in the case of men. Child support, of course, is a totally different issue..
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Unfair Manipulation of Marital Settlements and/or Spousal Support
I don’t know maybe I’m crazy but I find the article below to be a perfect example of men working the legal system to benefit themselves by misusing the common sense body of matrimonial laws that were crafted to protect women (who were more financially vulnerable) during the early periods of our history. These laws are basically holdovers from the time when women did not work outside the home, when husbands controlled any property she had, while her primary focus was on raising the children and/or running the household for the benefit of her family, including her husband. Clearly when women were in that situation, you had to have laws for equitable divisions of assets and/or spousal support.
Also these laws made sense in the context of a society where women faced the additional problem of discrimination in hiring if we did wish to work outside of the home. Men NEVER faced this work discrimination situation just because they were men; nor did they stay at home with the children running the household and missing out on educational and professional opportunities due to focusing on their family.
Thus, I believe we should rarely, if ever, consider spousal support for a man and place stricter limits on division of marital assets for everyone. This division should depend upon what each spouse actually contributed to the assets of the household or the negative impact their contribution to their family had on their own career or professional advancement and that it occurred during the life of the marriage.
For example, a man obtained a professional degree in a lower-paying profession, worked in that profession for years obtaining a fair salary, paid into a TDA for retirement, took no time off from work for family-related matters: sickness, child care, etc., He spends most of his money putting it into his own investments/retirement account or buying cars or other expensive electronics gizmos for himself such as big-screen televisions to watch the game on or some expensive hobby for himself. One example: he decides to buy a ‘working farm’ that he can putter around on every weekend claiming it’s a vacation home for the family. Even though every other member of the family hates it but him and never wants to go there.
Remember, even though women spend more on shopping what are we shopping for most of the time? Usually we aren’t shopping for expensive gizmos for our own use, but food, clothing for our families (including our husbands as I shopped for my ex-husband ALL the time buying his clothes), pharmaceuticals and other household related items.
So can someone explain to me WHY a man who does what I outlined above should get HALF of the marital assets (as he didn’t add anything to those assets spending MOST of his salary on himself) or why he’s entitled to spousal support (since he already has a professional career, albeit a lesser paying one then his ex-wife and took no time off from work to raise his kids or run the household) Thus, his marriage had NO negative impact on his earning power whatsoever?
Basically unless he can make the case that he spent time on his family and out of the job market which hurt his career/earning capacity OR maybe he saved some money for the higher earner spouse by being home with the kids and avoiding the payment of a maid/nanny for a substantial period of time, then he should get out of the marriage just what he contributed, his own salary, investment/retirement account and whatever clothes, cars/gizmos he purchased over the years.
After carefully reviewing this article, there was no mention of ANY of these men helping with children or tending the household while their wives worked. Or any sacrifice any of these men made for their families which might have been a mitigating factor entitling them to spousal support or even a 50/50 division of the family’s assets, mostly contributed by their ex-wives.
Additionally only ONE of the women in the article, who was forced to give 50% of her assets to a man, was a high earner in my opinion. Most of them inherited their assets or had invested in a home BEFORE marriage, which they were then forced to sell their one asset (which they obtained before marriage) in order to pay off an ex-husband with no mention of what these men sacrificed for their family that might have contributed to the lesser earning power or assets for these men.
Also, as I said above, I don’t consider a teacher to be a low-paying profession that need to be compensated by a spouse that is an attorney just because one profession pays more then the other. A teacher is a professional position (at least in the US) paying anywhere from $40,000 to $65,000 depending upon the district you are employed in. The purpose of spousal support is NOT, nor should it be, to be used as a means of income transfer from one spouse to another just because one person chose a high-paying profession then the other one. Spousal support is supposed to be used to support a spouse who would have no income or a much lesser one (ie., a clerk in an office or a cashier/waitress in a restaurant) precisely BECAUSE they devoted themselves to their home and family and thus, didn’t have the time or money to devote to education and becoming a professional. Generally this would apply to a stay-at-home parent (usually a mother) who devoted herself to bearing the children of the marriage and then stayed home to raise them. I don’t have any sense in this article that any of these men getting awarded these settlements did ANY of this…
One of them is described as a teacher, who just chose a professional that made less money then his lawyer wife. There is no mention of him devoting any additional time to any children of the marriage or to the family in anyway; that might have impacted his earnings ability. Another is a man who clearly worked and made good money but then chose to spend most of it on expensive cars. Another was in a short-term marriage for three years to an actress who was working as an actress before she married him. A third was just married for seven years (another short-term marriage) and then his wife was forced to pay him out of an inheritance she received from a family member.
Child support, of course, is a differing situation but I heard no mention of this in the article.
So based upon all these observations, these are outrageous examples of men who worked the system and got undeservedly enriched.
Superwomen pay price in divorce court John Elliott
HIGH-FLYING career women are discovering a costly downside to their success — divorce settlements that force them to pay out huge sums to their less wealthy ex-husbands.
Law firms are reporting an increasing number of cases in which men earn windfalls through divorce as women outperform their husbands in the workplace.
One London law firm, Mishcon de Reya — which handled the divorce of Diana, Princess of Wales — is currently dealing with 10 cases where the wife earns more than the husband.
Sandra Davis, head of family law, said the wives were “serious players, businesswomen who are going to have to pay money to their spouses”.
Dawsons, another London law firm, is dealing with six divorces in which the woman is earning well into six figures. Suzanne Kingston, head of family law, said:“There’s the possibility of a spousal maintenance order to the husband . . . most women don’t imagine they would be liable for this, so it surprises them.” The rate of change has been rapid. “Twenty years ago there were no reported cases of men obtaining money from their wives on divorce — now it is routine,” said Simon Bruce, head of family law at Farrer & Co, the Queen’s solicitors.
Among the high earners who have paid out to ex-husbands is Kate Winslet, the actress. A payment of about £500,000 was agreed to finalise her divorce in 2001 from Jim Threapleton, her husband of three years.
For Susan Singleton, a mother of five from Pinner, Middlesex, her divorce three years ago meant handing over nearly £900,000 to her ex-husband Martin after 20 years of marriage. As a lawyer, her earnings are over £200,000 and dwarf those of her former husband, a teacher and organist. Singleton’s divorce settlement forced her to remortgage the £1.9m family home for £1.1m, and she also pays school and university fees of £50,000 a year. “I’m in the same position as a lot of men who work very hard, earn a lot of money, and then the person they happen to have been married to gets a share of that, even though they haven’t really built it up,” she said. “Why should the spouse who earns less get a share of the higher-earning one’s income?” Martin Singleton said: “I was urged to get more by my solicitor but settled for less so she didn’t have to sell the family home. I wouldn’t want to seem greedy, I only got what I was entitled to.
Financial experts predict that in coming decades more women will have to pay out former husbands, as greater numbers are promoted to top jobs. Last year the number of female millionaires in the 18-44 age bracket overtook the number of men — 47,355 compared with 37,935, according to a study by the Centre for Economics and Business research. Women will own 60% of the UK’s personal wealth by 2025, up from 48% now, the researchers found.
In a divorce, women can also be required to hand over money inherited from their parents, as Barbara Dowell, a 48 year-old marketing executive from Rutland, discovered last year. Dowell, who has one child, said she inherited £500,000 in 2000, only to hand over about half of it to her husband on divorce, after 14 years together. To fund this the family home was sold for about £300,000, and she lives in a rented house and pays school fees for their son, whose residence is shared. Dowell said: “I am now funding him (the husband) through my inheritance. It makes me extremely angry.”
Her former husband was not available for comment.
Liz Haskell, 56, from Woodbridge, Suffolk, said she paid her ex-husband £50,000 last autumn after seven years of marriage ended. Haskell, who said she inherited her assets, said: “It was a slap in the face — I feel cheated by the system. So often it’s just rich men you read about having to pay off women with their millions.”
Her former husband was also not available for comment.
One divorcee from Berkshire in her late fifties, who asked not to be named, described her former husband as a “creature” whom she hoped encountered anthrax. “He only married me for what he could get out of me,” she said. “He squandered his own earnings on Porsches and Jaguars (and) didn’t contribute to the family.” The mother of two, who said she had inherited her wealth and owned the family home outright before she met her husband, said she had been forced to sell up for £700,000 and split the proceeds. The woman, who married 22 years ago and divorced in the late 1990s, added: “He abandoned the children . . . we’re living in a house the size of a postage stamp now.” Nicola Horlick, the City fund manager and mother of five, now divorced from her husband Tim, argues that divorce law needs reviewing. “There are an awful lot of people getting upset,” she said. “Fathers who don’t believe they have enough access to children; men who believe they have paid out too much — and wives who believe they have paid out too much.”