Men, Alimony and Balance

One of the shocks of getting divorced hit me the day my first husband petitioned for alimony. When we'd met, he had earned four times my salary, but he hadn't saved much and had credit problems. To help him through graduate school, I took out loans for his tuition in my name. I had police reports and family court documents to prove why we were splitting -- that he'd physically abused me for four years.

Despite these factors, he could still apply for alimony -- financial support from me. I fought him on this request and won, although to get out of the marriage I lost more than I gained, financially at least. However I learned a lot of priceless lessons, including the fact that most U.S. divorce laws are as nutty, unfair and incomprehensible as love itself.

Alimony paid by an ex-wife was fairly rare in the early 1990s when I was getting unhitched. But it's becoming slightly more common, as more women outearn their husbands (in 33 percent of all families), gender roles transform and more men become stay-at-home dads. The stigma about taking money from a wife seems to be evaporating, however, as reported recently in The Wall Street Journal's Men Receiving Alimony Want a Little Respect.

Even men without marital sacrifices to cite as cause for alimony are coming around to the idea that good fortune is no cause for shame. Women, after all, have been crowing for decades about the financial scalpings they collect monthly from their ex-husbands. So why shouldn't [men]?

In today's world where men, on average, outearn women by nearly 25 percent, it seems right that male alimony should be rare, running about 3.6 percent during the five years ending in 2006, up from 2.4 percent in the previous five-year period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. However I can't muster any rational arguments against men receiving alimony if they made career sacrifices for their wives' work or to raise their children. And I think it's duplicitous for higher-earning women (or their lawyers or publicists) to use societal stereotypes to attempt to shame their ex-husbands into reducing or eliminating alimony requests.

What's your take? Have you asked -- or paid -- for male alimony? What do you think is fair: to compensate a spouse for career sacrifices or expect them to suffer the financial consequences of a marriage ending? Should the legal guidelines shift based on gender? If you received alimony from an ex-wife, would you be reluctant to admit it in public?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  April 16, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Dads
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Comments

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The legal guidelines should be the same whether it is a man or women asking for alimony. Why should it be different. If things are ever going to be equal, the need to be equal across the board, whether positive or negative.

Posted by: HappyDad | April 16, 2008 7:31 AM

It's called spousal support in most states.

"Should the legal guidelines shift based on gender?"

Look up "Equal Protection".

Posted by: Huh? | April 16, 2008 7:54 AM

How about if men get 66-70 percent of what the women petitioning usually get? That way, there will be reciprocity for the fact that women are traditionally paid less for doing the same work.

Posted by: Just Lurking | April 16, 2008 7:58 AM

How about if men get 66-70 percent of what the women petitioning usually get? That way, there will be reciprocity for the fact that women are traditionally paid less for doing the same work.

Posted by: Just Lurking | April 16, 2008 7:58 AM

I'm with Happy Dad. Fair's fair.

Posted by: NewSAHM | April 16, 2008 7:59 AM

Men also rarely report spousal abuse.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | April 16, 2008 8:07 AM

"However I learned a lot of priceless lessons, including the fact that most U.S. divorce laws are as nutty, unfair and incomprehensible as love itself. "

Divorce laws in the 50 states are state laws. .

This topic is yet another rehash of a previous WSJ's Juggle topic:

http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/?s=alimony&x=4&y=4

Tsk, tsk.

Posted by: Huh? | April 16, 2008 8:18 AM

"How about if men get 66-70 percent of what the women petitioning usually get? That way, there will be reciprocity for the fact that women are traditionally paid less for doing the same work."

False.

Statistics show that women are paid about 77% percent of what men make for what some judge to be EQUIVALENT work; that is, work that requires the same level of educational background and experience.

There are no statistics of which I'm aware that show, for example, that female math teachers make 77% of what male math teachers make. Or that female police officers with 10 years of experience make 77% of what male police officers with 10 years of experience make.

NOT "the same work".

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 8:32 AM

I think alimony/spousal support should be genger neutral. Its (should be) about compensating a spouse who has sacrificed earning power for the sake of the family. Probably not really on topic for this chat, but, while I understand that people make sacrifices for their kids, I do think that at some point alimony should end. At some point, you should be able to support yourself. Maybe that's when the youngest child gradutes from high school (or college) or a few years after for the spouce receiving support has time to brush up on job skills. Or, if there are no kids, time for the spouse to go back to school.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 8:35 AM

I see nothing wrong with it, but I do think that alimony in cases where the petitioning spouse has not been a SAHM/D is silly. This is yet another reason to get a prenup in my book. Regardless of how in love you feel, so many marriages fail that you might as well be prudent before doing the deed.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 8:40 AM

I kind of agree with babsy1. I make much less than my husband, due to being employed in a more lucrative career and having voluntarily "mommy-tracked" myself. And yet I still probably wouldn't ask for alimony if we divorced. I can support myself, and see no reason why I should live off his income if we're not a family any more. Alimony is for spouses who have little or no earning potential on their own, because of sacrifices they've made for the family.

I'd push for child support if I got custody, though I think we'd both want joint custody. My husband's a very good father, and my son's best off with both of us involved in his life. He's a very good husband, too, which is why I think the possibility of divorce is remote - but even if he divorced me tomorrow, he'd still be a good dad, and my son would still need him.

Posted by: Katja | April 16, 2008 8:45 AM

To anon @ 8:35 - many states DO put limitations on spousal support. In the case where one spouse is a stay-at-home, the spousal support for the first few years takes into account that spouse's earnings of "0". But then the stay-at-home's educational qualifications and prior work experience are used to calculate an "imputed income" for that spouse - "this is what he or she could reasonably expect to make." And that's factored into the long-term spousal support.

A friend of mine got divorced recently. I'll use fake numbers that are in the ballpark. He made 110 K per year. His wife was a stay-at-home for 7 years. Prior to the kids being born she had worked for the Feds and made 60K.

The court ordered him to pay spousal support of 38K (roughly 1/3 of his income) for three years. After that, the court assigned her an "imputed income" of 75K per year, because they figured that's what she should be able to make at a job based on her education and previous work experience. So his spousal support dropped to 12K (1/3 of the difference).

Her request to keep the higher level of support so that she could be a stay-at-home until the kids graduate from high school was denied.

This was separate from the question of child support (he pays that until the kids turn 18), and division of marital property.

All spousal support stops if she remarries, or if she acquires a boyfriend who is financially committed to supporting her.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 8:48 AM

Marriage is a risky financial arrangment in a lot of ways. It is based on the idea of trust and lifelong partnerships. Often this is not the case.

I thought when payments are made to a man, it was called palimony.

Anyway, I think it should be gender neutral. I don't see why if women on average earn less then men, should factor into it. Because alimony is based on just that one couple. How other people are compensated for their work does not have a lot to do with how that one individual couple has lived their life.

I do think alimony (paid to a man or women) is appropriate when one person clearly sacrificed to raise a family or support their spouses career. Like if your a married to a military person and moving every 3-4 years. It is hard to really stay with one company and move up. So you sacrificed a lot of piece meal work to support your spouses career.

Certainly staying home to raise kids for a substantial amount of time, does deserve consideration in alimony support.

The other big area if your close to retirement and you get divorce. It is not the same to say go out and earn an income when your 25 versus 55. At 25, you have years to build up skills and move up. At 55, you have about 10 more good working years left.

I know a lot has to do with how much money that you have accumlated prior to getting married. For the feds, you have to have your spouse sign a waiver if you don't want them to have 50% of your TSP (retirement acct) in the event of divorce. Usually people only waive if it is a second or third marriage or the other spouse is so wealthy that they don't need your $$.

But now with couples marrying later, being more educated, more and more couples are entering marriage with considerable assets. I had a lot more assets ( a home, more then twice as much in retirement, and way more in investments) then my husband. We decided not to do a prenup, as it was our first marriage, and I generally felt we are in this together. I also believe our marriage will last. But I can understand why some couples choose prenups, waivers, or other ways of protecting assets that were accumlated prior the marriage.

Again, marriage is risky financial situation. It has a lot of rewards (both emotionally, legally, and financially). But like all good things, there are the risks as well.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 16, 2008 8:48 AM

foamy "I thought when payments are made to a man, it was called palimony."

No, "palimony" is support paid to a live-in to whom you were never legally married. It originated in the Lee Marvin-Michelle Triola-Marvin case in the late '70s.

The term was coined, IIRC, by her lawyer, whose name escapes me at the moment (Wikipedia, here I come :-). It's a blend of "pal" and "alimony" because it's "alimony" paid to a "pal" or "friend".

FWIW, there are cases of alimony paid to men dating back quite a few years. There's a (distant) side of my mother's family that's very wealthy. When one of my mother's cousins divorced her husband in the late 1930's, she was forced to pay him alimony for about 5 years or so, until he remarried.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 16, 2008 8:54 AM

Was it Raoul Felder who coined the term "palimony"?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 9:07 AM

Marvin Mitchelson

This is purely anecdotal, but, in instances where the kids are school-age and the divorced spouse is capable of work, I am not seeing alimony awarded for more than 2 - 5 years. Generally, alimony's not a penalty any more, e.g., it's not awarded to teach a lesson or penalize the paying spouse. The purpose of alimony is to provide a financial bridge for a limited period of time while you update your skills, take recent courses or obtain a degree and move on. In the Triangle, this approach holds true even if the paying spouse committed adultery.

Posted by: MN | April 16, 2008 9:12 AM

"Was it Raoul Felder who coined the term "palimony"?"

Wikipedia says it was Marvin Mitchelson.

Interestingly, Michelle Triola LOST that case because she couldn't prove that there was a valid contract in place. I didn't remember her losing; I had thought that she got some kind of a settlement. Ah well, senility is setting in. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 16, 2008 9:14 AM

Alimony laws should be gender-neutral. It should be a short-term proposition to allow a spouse who sacrificed career goals for the family to get back on his/her feet. Presuming that's possible -- a 30-yr-old who's gone part-time for a couple of years is in a very different situation from a 50-yr-old who hasn't worked in 25 yrs.

Personally, I doubt either of us would ask for or receive alimony, because we've both made sacrifices at various times. I've had more years of lower-paying and very part-time positions when we moved for his job, but I'm also currently making more, so it all balances out. Most importantly from the alimony perspective, both of us are able to support ourselves; no one has had long breaks from careers, or taken low-pay-but-family-friendly jobs.

Oh, and BTW, the pride issue isn't just male-specific. When my dad left my mom @ 1970, she did NOT want to be financially dependent on him. She refused all alimony, and only grudgingly let her lawyer convince her to accept a little child support (but she insisted that that be limited to her calculations of half the cost -- which may have been half in 1970, but sure wasn't 10 yrs later!). We were poor for a number of years, but she was proud that everything she had was because of her own hard work and determination. Of course, she also was young enough to be able to start over, too.

Posted by: Laura | April 16, 2008 9:19 AM

Yes, I agree it should be gender neutral. However, the criteria for getting it should be much more stringent. One shouldn't profit just for being married to a person who made more money for a long time. If there was an agreement between married parents for one parent to stay home to take care of children, in that case, alimony might be necessary for a limited time. That person should be planning to be self-sufficient as soon as possible. I can't see the justification for any adult feeling ok with living off of another person in any other circumstance and certainly not for the a state government/court mandating it.

Posted by: PersonL | April 16, 2008 9:22 AM

Generally, alimony's not a penalty any more, e.g., it's not awarded to teach a lesson or penalize the paying spouse.

Does anyone think there are instances where it OUGHT to be a penalty still?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 9:27 AM

Someone said:

"Generally, alimony's not a penalty any more, e.g., it's not awarded to teach a lesson or penalize the paying spouse.

Does anyone think there are instances where it OUGHT to be a penalty still?"

No, it shouldn't be a penalty. What if the person who "acted up" doesn't have any money? Yes, some crimes are punishable by fines. But if we are going to declare certain marital misconduct as criminal, it should be clearly legislated that way with fines and/or jail time as the punishment. However, I personally don't think there should be any kind legislation against sex between consenting adults, which I'm sure many people would like.

Posted by: PersonL | April 16, 2008 9:33 AM

IMO, alimony should be based on individual family need/case and be gender neutral. Although I believe in true love and happy ever after, I agree with a poster above who said that marriage is a partnership and financial matters have been known to undo partnerships. Especially in a case where one spouse is bringing a lot more to the marriage financially than the other, I would support the idea of a pre-nup, certainly for my kids in the future. And I am totally gender biased here because I have one of each. I used to think differently until I saw a few divorces end in a complete financial meltdown for both spouses. The more acrimonial the divorce, the greater are the attorney fees.

Posted by: DC reader | April 16, 2008 9:33 AM

Foamgnome, LOL re: the TSP statement. I remember a "mid-career retirement planning seminar" that my agency put on when I was still a Fed. The financial planner they brought in to conduct the seminar had this advice re: divorce and retirement:

1. Don't get divorced
2. If you have to get divorced, hire Johnnie Cochran as your lawyer (this was shortly after the OJ trial)
3. If you have to get divorced and Johnnie's not available to take your case, introduce your ex-spouse to any eligible friend you have. Whatever it takes to get your ex-spouse remarried.

Then the planner went into the rules of what happens when a career Fed divorces. It ain't a pretty sight. As foamgnome notes, regardless of gender the default is that your ex-spouse gets half your retirement (TSP, CSRS, whatever). AND, your ex-spouse has to approve any career moves that impact your retirement - meaning your ex-spouse can prevent you from moving to another Fed job that would result in lower retirement, because it would negatively impact his/her future income. Whew!

(Off-topic, geek alert: Yea, FedEx's website says the new computer's on the truck and will be delivered today. We used the tax refund to finally upgrade the old, barely-qualifies-as-a-computer in the office. And DW's out of town this weekend, chaperoning a chorus trip. Which means after I get the other kids to bed, it's geek heaven in the ArmyBrat household this weekend!)

(Further off-topic: you've heard about why it's great for an engineer to have both a wife and a mistress, right? Because if you can't be found, the wife will assume you're with the mistress; the mistress will assumer you're with the wife; and you can really be in the lab, getting some productive work done without being interrupted by either! :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 16, 2008 9:34 AM

"I had police reports and family court documents to prove why we were splitting -- that he'd physically abused me for four years.
Despite these factors, he could still apply for alimony -- financial support from me. "

By Leslie Morgan Steiner '87 | April 16, 2008; 7:00 AM ET

Seventeen posts so far, and not one has used the word, "fault." A guy who beats up his wife, and she divorces him for it, should not get a penny from her. A guy who cheats on his wife, and she divorces him for it, should not get a nickel from her. A guy who deserts his wife, and she divorces him for it, should not get a dime from her. Marriage is a deal -- a contract, if you will. Implicit in the deal is that you don't beat up your wife or cheat on her or run out on her. "[P]hysically abused me for four years" means that he broke the deal, breached the contract. Where else in the law can a man break his contractual promise, and profit from his breach?

But you'll say, "She earns more than he does, so she's got the ability to pay alimony. And he makes less money, so he's got the need for alimony, even though he beat her up. So she should pay him." Folks, this is nothing more than Marxism.

There's Britain, and then there's the Continent. Britain is where our laws originated. The Continent is where Marx (copying Louis Blanc) came up with, "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." Why should our Anglo-American system of law and equity follow Marx's rule instead of the English rule of rewarding promise-keepers and punishing promise-breakers?

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | April 16, 2008 9:34 AM

I would prefer never to receive, or for that matter pay, alimony, as a male, but then the apt saying may be "never say never" . My impression is that women more often marry for financial security than do men. Should the financial security end with the marriage? Perhaps prenuptual agreements should be more common, since "fairness" is difficult to achieve in a divorce settlement. Alimony is just another term for the post marital division of finances, which often takes the form of property, financial assets or future income. Greed and vindictiveness often rule the day. Given the divorce statistics, a prenup makes a lot of sense these days.

Posted by: Eric S | April 16, 2008 9:38 AM

How else will Federline get any Britney money?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 9:38 AM

OT to ArmyBrat - setting up computers is fun. Even with the great MS (not) trying to make things difficult, the puzzle is one I actually enjoy figuring out. The problems is akin to Sudoku (another puzzle love). Much joy to you

Posted by: dotted | April 16, 2008 9:39 AM

The wife/mistress thing applies to computer programmers also!

Posted by: Fred | April 16, 2008 9:40 AM

Leslie

"I had police reports and family court documents to prove why we were splitting -- that he'd physically abused me for four years."

4 YEARS!!!

Posted by: Huh? | April 16, 2008 9:40 AM

Anybody else read the column in cnn.com and oprah.com in defense of an unbalanced life?

http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/personal/04/15/o.balance/index.html

Posted by: dotted | April 16, 2008 9:41 AM

ooops, this was inadvertantly cut out of my last post.

The column was written in 2003, but I wonder what the motivation was/is in reprinting it now?

Posted by: dotted | April 16, 2008 9:43 AM

Fred/ArmyBrat - sigh, the wife/mistress thing doesn't apply to us heterosexual engineer/computer types.... gigolo maybe?

Posted by: dotted | April 16, 2008 9:45 AM

The problem is deeper than simply alimony. Marriage is the only contract that a person can abrogate (either by being with another person or simply saying "I don't love you anymore") and yet the abrogator is entitled to money.

Posted by: eddiehaskel | April 16, 2008 9:57 AM

dotted, "gigolo" generally implies there's a payment involved, whether explicit or implicit. I don't know; what's the right word for a male with whom a married woman is having an affair? Just "lover", perhaps?

But I do acknowledge that there are lots of female scientists, engineers and programmers who fit the caricature captured in the joke.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 16, 2008 10:03 AM

AB - I know you know, you know. Just couldn't resist the needling (in jest)....where is grammar police when I actually need him/her? Oh well, off to wikipedia I go

Posted by: dotted | April 16, 2008 10:06 AM

AB, that's hysterical -- don't know how I hadn't heard it already, after being married to a double-E for 12 yrs. :-)

Posted by: Laura | April 16, 2008 10:14 AM

To anon@8:35 am: In MD, rehabilitative alimony is typically 3 years, but of course the parties can "agree" to another time frame. If the former spouse can show "cause" for why she is unable to support herself after 3 years (illness, lack of education, handicap,etc.), she can petition the court for an extension of alimony or unlimited alimony (extremely rare).

MattinAberdeen - most states have moved away from a "fault" based system in divorce cases. The fault based system of the past encouraged MORE litigation, not less, more attorney fees, more anger, resentment, fighting, less compromise, more bile, more digging up old disputes, more justifications for bad behavior, more exagerrated slights. Divorce, custody disputes, child support and other family matters are traumatic and expensive enough for the parties - why not try to resolve these issues without injecting the emotional powderkeg of "fault".

Posted by: rammy | April 16, 2008 10:17 AM

just to follow up to what foamgnome and ArmyBrat said: a divorced spouse is entitled to 50% of TSP benefits. At what point? When a fed spouse starts drawing down the benefits him/her self? Or after one's death? Is naming children as beneficiaries a way around it? What about stating specifically in one's will that a spouse is NOT to get TSP? I am not planning to get divorced but as an almost mid-career fed I was not aware of this wrinkle in TSP at all. Thanks for posting about it

Posted by: DC reader | April 16, 2008 10:23 AM

DC reader

"I am not planning to get divorced but as an almost mid-career fed I was not aware of this wrinkle in TSP at all."

Details are at OPM.gov .

Posted by: Suzie | April 16, 2008 10:28 AM

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Posted by: Shocker | April 16, 2008 10:35 AM

DC Reader -- I'm not a fed, but for things like TSPs, 401(k)s, and life insurance, the only thing that counts is who you list as beneficiary, not what you say in your will. You will is basically the catch-all for everything that is NOT specifically designated to someone else as a beneficiary.

You could get around it by naming someone else as beneficiary -- but, as mentioned above, for a lot of these kinds of accounts, you would have to get your spouse to sign a form agreeing not to be beneficiary (my 401(k) is the same way). In short, it's an automatic right that the wife has, and it's up to her alone whether she agrees to waive it.

Which is why, when you get divorced, it's so important to follow through changing things like the title to the house, insurance coverage, and retirement account beneficiaries to be consistent with the divorce decree. Because if the divorce decree says that you are entitled to the house/bank account/IRA/life insurance/etc., but you never got around to taking her name off the title/account/beneficiary designation, guess who is going to get it? Again, regardless of what your will says.

Posted by: Laura | April 16, 2008 10:35 AM

DC reader: "The more acrimonial the divorce, the greater are the attorney fees."

Ain't that the truth! A female engineer I worked with was getting divorced. She was still in the house; her husband had moved out. Turns out that he had cut, split and stacked three cords of firewood that was still at the house. He had his lawyer write her lawyer a letter demanding that firewood - darned if she was going to get warmth in the winter by the sweat of his brow.

She had her lawyer respond that she'd compensate him for three cords of firewood at fair market rates.

He had his lawyer respond that that was unacceptable; he wanted THAT WOOD that he had personally split and stacked.

He eventually got the wood, but by the time it was all resolved, between them they had run up over $2,000 in attorney fees, plus whatever he had to pay for the truck to come haul it away, plus other miscellaneous expenses. (And I'm not even sure he had a place at his new residence to store three cords of firewood.)

My brother, my brother-in-law, and other friends have all gone through similar experiences. It becomes a game of "you hurt me so I'm going to hurt you back worse." "Now you hurt me worse than I hurt you so I'm going to hurt you back worse to make up for it." and on and on.

I told DW not to bother divorcing me. Just arrange an "accident" and collect the insurance. It'll be cheaper and easier for both of us!

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 16, 2008 10:38 AM

Wow - and right on cue a friend sent me this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hx_WKxqQF2o

As CNN.com describes it:

" In a tearful and furious YouTube video with close to 150,000 hits to date, former actress and playwright ("Bonkers") Tricia Walsh-Smith lashes out against her husband, Philip Smith, president of the Shubert Organization, the largest theater owner on Broadway.

She goes through their wedding album on camera, describing family members as "bad" or "evil" or "nasty," and talks about how her husband is allegedly trying to evict her from their luxury apartment. She also makes embarrassing claims regarding their intimate life, and then calls his office on camera to repeat those claims to a stunned assistant."

Some lawyers are going to get very, very wealthy indeed off this one.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 16, 2008 10:45 AM

After 2 divorces in which I came in with money and they did not and I went out with 50% (ie, they got 50% of the money I walked in with), I decided to protect my assets a little better this time and took some steps to do so.

Now at the point of contemplating divorce again, I realize that I still didn't protect my assets well enough. I guess if I end up initiating separation and divorce, I will find out how honest he was when he said that he had no interest in my money and wouldn't take it with him when he left.

The irony does not escape me that not only did I pay for just about everything when we were married, I will also be paying him when he leaves.

Posted by: Billie_R | April 16, 2008 10:52 AM

Good posting, everyone.

And thanks, M-I-A. Appreciate your take.

Here's a disconnect between two disparate sets of my own research on 1) alimony decisions and 2) reportage on SAHMs who attempt to return to paid employment:

I feel I'm constantly preaching that SAHMs can go back to FT work at roughly the same income level they earned when they left. This is what women who've been home for 3-10 years tell me -- they can and do go back to work, fairly easily.

However, I get so much resistance from different factions, ala Leslie Bennetts' The Feminine Mistake, who argue that once women take time off they are screwed financially and can never get a good job again. But the courts seem to agree -- that after a few years of a financial bridge (alimony), women can return to self-sufficiency.

Who is right? Journalists and authors who caution women that we should never take time off to put our families first? Or judges who argue that women can return to economic self-sufficiency when need be?

What's your experience? Can SAHMs (and obviously, SAHDs) return to work at the same income levels?

If you haven't already, please this brief Moms At Work survey about moms who return to work: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=MGKrtmhhg2AUepXCZErkaA_3d_3d

It will add your experience to the research pool. Thanks.

Posted by: Leslie | April 16, 2008 10:53 AM

DCer: You can go to OPM site and check out all the details. But there are certain forms that your spouse has to sign to either waive their rights or make significant changes.

Simply stating your kids at 100% beneficiaries (if your married or have been married while a FED) is not enough. I changed over some years from a prior government service and my husband had to sign a paper stating he was aware that I was moving the years from FED job 1 to FED job 2.

In a divorce, your spouse can just contact your agency or TSP and ask for 50% of the TSP balance at the time you divorce. So if you divorce at age 45, they get 50% at age 45. Not 50% at age 70. Most people sell assets or draw down their TSPs to make a lump sum payment to their spouse. I have seen a few people have to do this in a divorce. BTW, all the people I have seen were women paying out their husbands.

Usually if your spouse is a non FED, you would work a similar deal with his/her 401K or split the assets so that it is an equal or agreeable share regardless of the make up. You take a huge hit in your retirement if you divorce. Like ArmyBrat says, it is best to stay married if your FED.

I think the military has even more stringent rules. Meaning they are entitled to 50% of your pension (defined benefit) for life. Regardless if you remarry etc.. And if your military spouse is caught cheating on you, they are in HUGE trouble.

I know this guy who was ex-career military who had this long term affair. In fact, he fathered two children by his mistress who he later married. Anyway, the ex-wife threatened to turn him into the military (he was still active at the time). Anyway, he did not want to get in trouble with the military, so he agreed to a 75%/25% split of assets when he divoreced. He wanted to divorce before retirement. he also agreed to pay off all her credit card debt, which was HUGE. But oh well, you shouldn't cheat on your spouse.

The very nasty side of me would love to see some penalty payments for abuse, cheating, gambling etc... But I think those would be hard to legislate. I think military works in an entirely different realm then the rest of the world.

But sometimes I think things are a little subtle in a marriage.

Like case 1: couple decides that it best for one spouse to stay at home the entire time their children are growing up. Other spouse works hard and supports the family. They get divorced when youngest child is 18 or in college. Should the SAHP get some alimony to retrain and compensate for the financial and career sacrifice? sure.

Case2: One spouse decides they would really like to go back to school to be X. Other spouse takes on all the bills and foots the student loans. Spouse who went to school gets great job better then the other spouse. He/She meets someone and decides to divorce. Should the spouse that held up all the bills and worked to support the schooling and the family get some payment for her investment in the other person's education? Sure (in my mind-not sure the law works that way).

Case3: One spouse thinks they really need two incomes to work and save for the future. Does everything to encourage SAHP to start working when youngest child goes to preschool/kindergarten. SAHP refuses or makes every excuse not to work. When youngest kid hits MS, the WOHP wants a divorce. Should SAHP get alimoney? Not sure because it really wasn't a joint decision to have SAHP for that many years.

In the last case, I clearly see how marriage is a risky financial position. You really can't make your spouse work or take on certain jobs. You can only hope both people think of the welfare of the family first.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 16, 2008 10:55 AM

At the time of my divorce, a therapist asked:

"Why are you surprised? He treated you terribly while you were married. Of course he is going to treat you terribly in the divorce!"

Duh. Another good lesson learned.

Posted by: Leslie | April 16, 2008 10:55 AM

I'd rather their former spouses pay than my family. Take care of your own house.

see below:


Report: Single parents, divorce cost $112B

Published: April 15, 2008 at 6:48 PM
Print story Email to a friend Font size:WASHINGTON, April 15 (UPI) -- The high rate of divorce and unwed parenthood is costing U.S. taxpayers a minimum of $112 billion annually, a study in these areas indicated Tuesday.

"This study documents for the first time, that divorce and unwed childbearing ... are also costing taxpayers a ton of money," David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, said in a news release.

Posted by: lolly | April 16, 2008 10:57 AM

Her request to keep the higher level of support so that she could be a stay-at-home until the kids graduate from high school was denied


So she was really lazy?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 11:04 AM

lolly

"This study documents for the first time, that divorce and unwed childbearing ... are also costing taxpayers a ton of money," David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, said in a news release. "

They needed a study for this???

Posted by: Duh | April 16, 2008 11:09 AM

ArmyBrat: I knew this couple that fought over frozen corn in their freezer and another couple that had a custody battle over a dog!

Posted by: foamgnome | April 16, 2008 11:18 AM

I got divorced after almost 14 years of marriage--8 of which I spent home taking care of my kids full-time. Had my husband at the time have been the one to initiate the divorce I definitely would have felt entitled to alimony--I worked while he went to graduate school full-time for 10 years and then made it possible for him to never miss so much as a day of work having to be home for the kids. I earned less than him before I quit working and my earning power was severely impacted by my non-working years so I would have felt justified asking for at least restorative alimony.

However, I was the one who initiated the divorce so I didn't feel it would have been right to ask for alimony. If I had wanted him to continue to support me I should have stayed married to him--it was my decision to leave and part of that decision was accepting financially reduced circumstances and I was fine with that.

Also, more important to me than my own financial circumstances was my kids' quality of life. My ex made a decent salary but nowhere near enough to cover alimony, child support and mortgage of the house we lived in as a family. He bought me out of the house so he could stay--at least the kids could have that bit of stability, which made the divorce at least a little easier on them. No way could have have afforded to pay me alimony in addition to the substantially larger mortgage payment that came with him buying me out of the house. I wouldn't have been ok if he had to sell the house and move into an apartment because he had to pay me 1/4 of his salary in addition to the child support he was also paying.

I do have a problem with women who feel the ex-husband should have to enable them to stay home full time with the kids until they go to college. I know several SAHMs who initiated the divorce by cheating on their husbands, yet fully expected to get to keep the house, get primary custody and the resulting full child support AND be able to stay home full-time. It's one thing if your kids are babies but when you have older kids--both women I'm talking about here had 10-14 year old kids--I don't see how you can think you should be entitled to be home all day while they're in school.

Posted by: Maggie | April 16, 2008 11:22 AM

It seems to me that we are mixing two values systems in this discussion. If you believe that marriage is a religious and moral institution based on a good-faith promise, the desire to dissolve the marriage is an abrogation of the promise. There will be moral consequences, particularly when children needing support are involved, but the responsibility of the departing spouse is a moral one. We do not legislate morality, only behavior (we don't say that murder is evil, we say that it is unlawful). To heal this moral breach, what is required is a moral solution (i.e., time, rather than money). If you view marriage as a legally binding contract, then a breach of the contract by the offending party should be subject to a legal remedy, such as money in compensation. Again, I think a prenup is a good solution.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 11:29 AM

Last time I looked, the military entitles divorced spouses to half the retirement as long as the marriage lasted 10 years. Fewer than 10 years, no retirement split.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 11:35 AM

My DH always says it would be too expensive to divorce me. :)

I read the book by ann crittenden the price of motherhood. Fascinating book. It discussed how women are penalized if they didn't earn a lot before staying home (well, you didn't earn that much before you stopped working, so you don't deserve so much in alimony) or women are penalized if they *did* earn a lot (no matter how much time in the workforce, the court assumed they could earn the same in going back to work) or women are penalized for not staying home (you don't need anything, you are working).

It was pretty eye opening.

No, I make less in going back to work than when I left the workforce. Of course, I was laid off from a company that was about to enter bankruptcy. The world had changed in the almost four years I had been out of the workforce, the pay was different for the same job *and* my skills weren't up to date (how much SAS or Excel programming do you think I'm going to do as a SAHM?)

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 11:37 AM

Maggie - so you're just supposed to stay in a marriage that isn't good because you are financially dependent? As long as it wasn't due to cheating/abuse/whatever, yes, the spouse who stayed home *should* get something, even if that person was the one to initiate. As in, if Leslie hadn't been the higher wage earner, EVEN THOUGH she initiated the divorce, she would be entitled to something (I think she was anyway, but that's slightly off point).

That thinking is what keeps my sister in her horrible marriage. He has brainwashed her into thinking she would get nothing in a divorce (which is completely untrue, and untrue-er still in that he would probably defend himself, even though he doesn't remotely practice any kind of law that would make him win - I would suspect a judge wouldn't want to deal with him).

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 11:43 AM

OT to ArmyBrat: so you didn't get a mac, huh? That's all that's allowed in our house. But I'll tell my DH that joke, he's a big geek too. It's quite amusing.
Have fun playing with the new puter.

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 11:45 AM

"That thinking is what keeps my sister in her horrible marriage."

No, your sister keeps herself in a horrible marriage. Maggie has nothing to do with it.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 11:50 AM

I left my marriage of 30 years and was ordered to pay alimony to my ex-husband, but it was called maintenance, not alimony. And the purpose was to 'maintain his lifestyle', the lifestyle we (or he)had become accustomed to during the marriage.
When the divorce was final, the alimony order was canceled (the reasons are not related to this discussion). So I only had to pay it for less than 3 years. That was how long we founght in court.

Posted by: gerimay | April 16, 2008 11:56 AM

One thing that's getting overlooked in all these discussions about alimony is the split of marital property. That's more of a reason for a prenup than is alimony, in my opinion. (No, we don't have one because we had pretty darn close to nothing when we married.)

There's a famous case involving Craig and Wendy McCaw. Craig built McCaw Cellular, which is now most of AT&T Wireless. The sale of McCaw Cellular fetched 12.6 billion dollars, a lot of which went to Craig.

When Craig and Wendy divorced (and a very bitter divorce it was, according to the papers), they lived in Washington state, which is a community property state, and the laws dictated that she get half of the marital property since there was no prenup. She eventually walked away with about 500 million dollars, which is still one of the biggest divorce settlements in US history.

Now move across Seattle - when Bill Gates got married, he still owned 24 percent of Microsoft. He swore he'd never make his wife sign a prenup. The Microsoft board of directors was in full-out panic mode. Imagine a bitter divorce after just a few years. With no prenup and community property, a very bitter ex-wife now owns 12 percent of Microsoft - clearly enough for at least one board seat and probably a lot more. The BoD leaned on Bill and Melinda to get a prenup in place "for the protection of the company."

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 16, 2008 11:57 AM

"With no prenup and community property, a very bitter ex-wife now owns 12 percent of Microsoft - clearly enough for at least one board seat and probably a lot more."

So?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 12:00 PM

Another brilliant financial move by Bill Gates?

Hey -- what about postnups? Anyone tempted to ask for one, now that you are married and your financial dependence (or independence) has changed?

Posted by: Leslie | April 16, 2008 12:02 PM

atlmom--I will have to think about it more to see if I agree with your point--I guess where I'm coming from is that so many people do seem to stay in a marriage for mostly financial reasons so it seems like an easy enough choice if that's a person's priority. For instance, if a woman wants to be a stay-home mom and expects to have everything provided for her--house, car, money to burn, days playing tennis or getting nails done, etc--then I don't think it's fair for her to expect to be able to have all that stuff AND be free to date/not have to take care of a husband, etc. I don't mean to sound retro and I realize my opinion is colored by my immediate experiences--in this case, my own situation and the situation I see all around me in the burbs full of stay-home moms who claim to be miserable but don't want to leave the nice house and lifestyle. I guess I have just heard the story so many times from so many different women--I'm talking women who were cheating on their husbands who fully expected to be taken care of by those same husbands whether they stayed married or not.

Maybe the people I know are not at all a good representation of the rest of the world, but I suspect not. Since I am divorced I have plenty of women approach me telling me how much they hate their husbands and wish they could leave. Invariably, though, they qualify it with the fact that they don't want to have to work or move to a lesser house or do without anything, etc. I have had more than one woman ask me "So if I ask for a divorce I get the house and the kids and he has to pay child support and alimony and the mortgage and I still get to stay home with the kids, right?"

My feeling is a) you don't want to be married so you therefore can't expect a continuation of the financial situation you were in before you got divorced and b) if the money and lifestyle are so important to you than do what tons of other people do--chalk it up to divorce being too expensive and just stay married.

Which is, I suppose, what most people do--which explains why I have the constant stream of people coming to me telling me how miserable they are but then deciding to stay married anyway.

Posted by: Maggie | April 16, 2008 12:03 PM

babys1:

In your moral argument, you missed an important point of Leslie's column...was it her moral obligation to stay with her husband until he murdered her? In the US, some 1,200 women a year are

And I absolutely agree with foamy: "Marriage is a risky financial arrangment in a lot of ways." I think a marriage license is the only contract I've ever signed that did not provide the fine print. I was not financially ruined by my divorce, but only because I had been cautious after my husband stuck me with is back taxes early in our marriage (I filed separately after that).

I now live in a community property state, and I have worked too hard to lose what I have earned through marriage. I'm not having any more children, so I have no reason to marry.

Posted by: pepperjade | April 16, 2008 12:06 PM

Leslie writes:
Who is right? Journalists and authors who caution women that we should never take time off to put our families first? Or judges who argue that women can return to economic self-sufficiency when need be?

Provided you came into the marriage with a college degree and put a few child-free years into your profession, economic self-sufficiency is probably still within reach post-divorce. But you do lose ground having stayed at home and in some fields, your options become limited, particularly if you're a single Mom.

I think the question in my mind is to what extent your options become limited because employers have concerns about hiring working mothers.

My ex and I both spent time away from our careers. I took two years to stay home with my kids and he ended up unemployed (or marginally employed outside his field) for two years due to illness quite recently.

Both of us managed to get back on track professionally though I limit myself in what jobs I apply for because I remain primarily responsible for the kids and can't be sure if ex will relapse. I'm economically self-sufficient but who knows what exciting career options I might have considered and been considered for if not for the divorce and kids.

Posted by: anne | April 16, 2008 12:07 PM

Your husband went to grad school full-time for 10 years? Did I read that right? I would think then he would make a more decent salary with that much education. (not trying to be snarky, really, that just bugged me.)

Posted by: Q for Maggie | April 16, 2008 12:08 PM

addendum to last post:

I lost part of my sentence: "In the US, some 1,200 women a year are murdered by their intimate partners and some 2 million seek medical treatment for assualt by an intimate partner." Those were the stats that accompanied a report on Drew Peterson...

Posted by: pepperjade | April 16, 2008 12:11 PM

"In your moral argument, you missed an important point of Leslie's column...was it her moral obligation to stay with her husband until he murdered her? "

FOUR years of physical abuse to a Harvard grad before she seeks a divorce??? Her Daddy is a lawyer!

Posted by: Wow! | April 16, 2008 12:11 PM

Oh--and TSP--that I feel is a different matter. My ex is a fed and I do get whatever percentage of his retirement the opm mandates. There's a specific formula--the number of years he worked there while we were married divided by the years we were married, or something like that. That I do feel entitled to because it was a joint decision that I stay home to raise the kids while he worked, therefore I was not able to save for retirement. Since raising the kids was my job during those 8 years I do feel it's fair that I receive a share of the retirement he racked up while he was working and never having to worry about childcare.

Ditto marital property--he wanted me to just walk away with nothing while he got the paid off car, the house, etc. I ended up getting my share of the house but not the paid off car--something that, in retrospect, I shouldn't have given in on because it was a decision based only on my guilt for wanting to leave. But whatever--5 more years of car payments is more than a fair price to pay for not having to be married to him anymore.

Posted by: Maggie | April 16, 2008 12:13 PM

I do know of a woman who supported her now ex when his depression turned serious and rendered him unemployable. He wheeled and dealed a little on e-Bay bringing in a few bucks now and then but he didn't look after kids, do the shopping, cooking, any of that. When he announced he wanted a divorce, he threatened to sue for alimony. She was so scared he'd get it, she caved on other demands, losing their house in the process. I think she's happily quit of him now and thinks apartment living is a small price to pay. But we all still wonder whether his threat would have gotten him alimony if it had gone to court.

Posted by: anne | April 16, 2008 12:21 PM

One of rather dated intentions of alimony was to compensate the wife for her loss of virginity and loveliness as a result of the marriage.

Posted by: Old timer | April 16, 2008 12:22 PM

Q--yes you read it right! Welcome to just one of the many reasons it was worth it to me to walk away from that marriage without alimony ;) Even with my 8 years out of the workforce and my lack of a PhD (or any graduate degree)I fully expect to out-earn him within the next 5 years. Nothing wrong with not being particularly ambitious, but let's just say he has mental issues that make it so his govt 9-5 job is all he could handle (not a slam on all govt workers--just his particular job). He could get--and has gotten offers for--jobs paying 50% more than he makes but he doesn't want to leave his cushy situation. He could also do consulting on the side or expert testimony or many other things but he won't do that stuff either.

But I digress...but yes, he was in school full-time for 10 years. I didn't support us 100% during that time--his parents had money (with huge strings attached)--but I did work and provide benefits, etc.

Posted by: Maggie | April 16, 2008 12:23 PM

pepperjade, in the moral argument, one assumes there is an implicit promise not to abuse each other. Abuse would cancel the promise. So there is no contradiction. BTW, physical violence generally escalates when the abused leaves. Most murdered spouses or girlfriends (its usually women who are killed) are murdered after they leave, or while they are in the process of leaving. I guess you choose your poison.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 12:23 PM

First, I wasn't blaming maggie for anything. I just said it was a thought...

Maggie: yes, I understand what you're saying. You make sense. But I see my sister, with three young kids - whose spouse is abusive to her and the kids. He obviously tells her she will have nothing if they divorce (not that she has much now - she's not really allowed to go buy herself clothes - and not so much for the kids either - they all pretty much dress in rags but him, she's certainly not getting her nails done - she's busy cooking and cleaning the house (yes, might not seem like a big deal, but her spouse wanted a large house so it would be larger than everyone else's - and therefore it would be prudent to have someone come and clean, but they do not - as my mom always said: don't buy the house you can't clean by yourself if you can't afford to hire someone to clean it)).
Anyway, I'm just saying that the idea that a woman has to stay married to her spouse because she is financially dependent on him is sorta outdated - it's really why we had laws for alimony in the first place. So that women *could* get out of lousy marriages and also keep some of their dignity.

My mom was divorced after nearly 30 years. She clearly had little to no skills for the modern day workforce (no college degree, at least, she could type... - didn't know how to use a computer). She definitely deserved everything my dad gave her and more (considering he was choosing not to work...another story). He keeps telling me how he gave her more than 1/2 as if he was being noble or something - but let me tell you - she definitely deserved to get more than half (the only reason we hadn't been foreclosed on with our house was due to her pinching a penny harder than anyone I ever met - what with the way my dad likes to spend money).

Maggie - I guess we all come to this with different perspectives ... I definitely agree, though, that there should be some sort of responsibility, but as Leslie indicated - if they're a louse when you married them, they ain't gonna change when you divorce them...

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 12:32 PM

Then there's my friend, whose parents divorced after 30 years. The mom and daughter moved to another town. When dad came to visit he'd stay with mom. Mom recently went to his funeral. Sometimes, things aren't so acrimonious.

Posted by: Atlmom | April 16, 2008 12:38 PM

"You make sense. But I see my sister, with three young kids - whose spouse is abusive to her and the kids."

Please do the right thing and call child services and take these children. Maybe that is the push your sister needs to leave him, but as their aunt, it is your obligation to think of them FIRST.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 12:40 PM

All high-flown arguments aside, I think I would feel odd if I were dating a man who is receiving alimony. I would wonder if he would expect it from me if our relationship developed, but we later divorced. I think I would feel differently if he were receiving support and simultaneously training himself to reenter the job market. Yes, I have a double standard.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 12:42 PM

atlmom

"But I see my sister, with three young kids - whose spouse is abusive to her and the kids. He obviously tells her she will have nothing if they divorce (not that she has much now - she's not really allowed to go buy herself clothes - and not so much for the kids either - they all pretty much dress in rags but him, she's certainly not getting her nails done - she's busy cooking and cleaning the house (yes, might not seem like a big deal, but her spouse wanted a large house so it would be larger than everyone else's - and therefore it would be prudent to have someone come and clean, but they do not - as my mom always said: don't buy the house you can't clean by yourself if you can't afford to hire someone to clean it))."

There is something rotten in Denmark about this situation. More emphasis on the HOUSE than on people being abused?????


Posted by: Hmmm | April 16, 2008 12:46 PM

Speaking with someone who used to work in child services, I was told that really, nothing is done as long as the children are fed and have a place to live. They have bigger fish to fry.

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 12:50 PM

They have bigger fish to fry than taking kids off of abusive parents?

What do they do all day then? What is their purpose?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 12:53 PM

atlmom

"Speaking with someone who used to work in child services, I was told that really, nothing is done as long as the children are fed and have a place to live. They have bigger fish to fry."

For God's sake woman - DO SOMETHING!!!! You are enabling the abuser!!!!!

Posted by: Duh! | April 16, 2008 12:55 PM

He obviously tells her she will have nothing if they divorce

You'd be amazed what stuff one spouse can bully another into believing. One long-married woman with two children defended the fact that he husband beat her when he was angry with her by explaining that she knew he did it because he loved her.

Posted by: Gotta be anonymous for this one | April 16, 2008 12:56 PM

First, a lawyer should have advised you that in many states, if you work to help put your spouse through graduate school, you own a piece of their lifetime earning since you helped pay for it.

That said, second, why should anyone get alimony ever? Child support, sure. But alimony at all strikes me as BS.

Posted by: Ok, Two things | April 16, 2008 12:56 PM

For God's sake woman - DO SOMETHING!!!! You are enabling the abuser!!!!!

No the "abusers" because her sister is just as bad if he is abusing the kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 12:57 PM

atlmom

IF these kids survive and become adults, how will you explain your apathy?

Posted by: Really confused | April 16, 2008 12:59 PM

The same way I explain my aunt's apathy. Sometimes, there's not much you can do.
Re: child and protective services you must not have read what I said:

IF THE KID'S are well fed and have a place to live nothing much is done.

They are more concerned with neglected kids, they only have so may resources to deal with anything. They can't do everything.

Seriously. There's only so much anyone can do. I can only control my actions, not my sister's.

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 1:02 PM

but has anyone seen the awful video of the poor toddler forced to smoke pot on cnn? We clearly do not take enough kids away from their home environments in this country.

Posted by: Off topic | April 16, 2008 1:04 PM

Off topic, Was that DandyLion?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 1:08 PM

IF THE KID'S are well fed and have a place to live nothing much is done.

This is not true. My cousin works for the state and they do take kids off of abusive parents. Plus, you did say they were in rags is that not neglect?

I feel like I am an anonymous witness to a crime. I am out of here.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 1:09 PM

Yes, I have a double standard.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 12:42 PM

Everyone here has a double standard, whether they admit it or not. Men are expected to work and pay the family expenses, even when they are removed from it. Women are not.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 1:10 PM

Atlmom, Would your sister let her kids come visit you for a week (with or without her), but in any event without her husband? Just for the respite, if not a reality check for them.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 1:10 PM

First, a lawyer should have advised you that in many states, if you work to help put your spouse through graduate school, you own a piece of their lifetime earning since you helped pay for it.

That said, second, why should anyone get alimony ever? Child support, sure. But alimony at all strikes me as BS.

Posted by: Ok, Two things | April 16, 2008 12:56 PM

Does your first point seem reasonable to anyone? Really, a LIFETIME debt for a relatively small investment?

My opinion is divorce end the relationship between spouses and any future responsibilities they have to each should only be related to their childeren (if they exist).

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 1:15 PM

Well, my sister doesn't much like hearing the truth, so she's not speaking to me. It's sad. My other sister hardly speaks with her given what she has done - won't get into it now. I do feel sorry for the kids. I think my sister gets some sort of pleasure in it all - thinking that the kids will love her or something in seeing her being treated that way or in her 'protecting' them from daddy. But really, when they're adults, perhaps they'll ask the pertinent question of 'why the heck did you marry him in the first place?'

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 1:15 PM

atlmom

"But really, when they're adults, perhaps they'll ask the pertinent question of 'why the heck did you marry him in the first place?'"

If the kids live that long...

What is wrong with you?

Posted by: Huh? | April 16, 2008 1:20 PM

But really, when they're adults, perhaps they'll ask the pertinent question of 'why the heck did you marry him in the first place?'

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 1:15 PM

No, I think the question will be "how could you be so spineless and not leave?"

Harsh, but probably true.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 1:21 PM

atlmom, how would your sister's husband treat their kids if she weren't around? Maybe she *is* protecting them from something even worse.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 1:21 PM

Many a man owes his success to his first wife and his second wife to his success. (I put my ex through college)

My unwanted divorce was amicable. My ex did not hurt me $$ financially compared to most divorce cases. But he took away my "family". What is the price of that?

Posted by: cyns | April 16, 2008 1:25 PM

Alimony should be abolished. It is silly at best. When couples divorce, each should get half of what they accumulated during marriage, then each goes his/her own way. If parents don't even owe their adult kids such a huge monthly allowance, why should another adult? Also, most divorces are not amicable, and good will almost always absent.

Alimony perpetuates a relationship that has gone beyond sour - like leftover foods sitting in landfills for months in summer weather. It is hard for the injured party to not feel angry that he (or she, in some cases) has to send a check to someone he despises, whether he can afford it or not.

If men try to "complete" with women in this ugly business, it is a race to the bottom. And the kids will be dragged down in the process.

Divorce laws serve a good general public purpose, but also create so much unfairness, especially toward men who are non-custodial ATM machines. Alimony only belongs to cultural history classes in college. It is like slavery, although not nearly as bad, and should be a thing of the past.

Posted by: The Judge | April 16, 2008 1:26 PM

"But really, when they're adults, perhaps they'll ask the pertinent question of 'why the heck did you marry him in the first place?'"

And they might ask atlmom why she didn't lift a finger to help them, but had plenty of time to chit chat on the Net!

Posted by: Is this a Southern thing? | April 16, 2008 1:27 PM

Well, it took my mom 30 years to finally leave my dad, because the conventional wisdom back then was to wait til the kids were grown. But they didn't have statistics yet on the emotional effect it has on the kids. Conventional wisdom is different today.

My sister would never leave him. She knew exactly what she was getting into, she wanted to be married and have kids. Period.

Also, she would NEVER in a million years admit she made a mistake, no matter what, and getting a divorce would be admitting you made a mistake. She'd rather redo a mistake every day of her life than to admit she made one. I know it sounds strange, but she is most definitely NOT the only person I know like this.

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 1:28 PM

To anon @ 1:15: "Does your first point seem reasonable to anyone? Really, a LIFETIME debt for a relatively small investment?

My opinion is divorce end the relationship between spouses and any future responsibilities they have to each should only be related to their children (if they exist)."

Re: your first point: Why is it necessarily a "small" investment? Ten years of someone's life as the primary support - including potentially paying tuition bills and other educational expenses - can add up to a heck of a lot of money. If he'd had to do it all as student loans, he'd be paying it back for years. Why not just consider it a "student loan" that he's obligated to pay back?

Re: your second point: that's pretty naive. Numerous posts today have talked about cases where one spouse made a tangible sacrifice for the benefit of the other spouse. So your view is that the non-sacrificing spouse should be able to say "see ya; wouldn't wanna be ya"? The comments about three years of "rehabilitative support" as discussed above seem perfectly reasonable to me.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 1:28 PM

"You'd be amazed what stuff one spouse can bully another into believing."

Right - look at the women from the cult in TX.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | April 16, 2008 1:31 PM

atlmom is from NY.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 1:32 PM

I hope that Ms. Steiner has sympathy towards those who are victims of divorce laws. She certainly seems to.

But the twist is that men suffer so much more than women in general. Our built-in gender bias preclude us from feeling naturally empathetic towards divorced dads. But they tend to not have physical custody of children, and dealing with controlling ex-wives discouraging them from being more engaged in kids' lives.

This is not to say that there are horrible dads out there (a lot!!!), who should never be near their kids. But divorce laws and social bias put men in the disadvantaged position.

I am hurt whether it is a man or woman who suffers injustice. And so should you.

Posted by: Washingtonian | April 16, 2008 1:32 PM

What do you think is fair: to compensate a spouse for career sacrifices or expect them to suffer the financial consequences of a marriage ending?
-Leslie

Obviously, to you, if the sacrificing spouse is female, she should be compensated. If male, he should not. What is he, some kind of loser?


Should the legal guidelines shift based on gender?
-Leslie

They already are.

How many men do you know with full custody, the house and inflated child support?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 1:33 PM

ahhahahahahahahha
Southern thing indeed. I'm from NY and am the only one in my family who lives in the south.

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 1:34 PM

atlmom

I can't even begin to understand your attitude about these children.

Screw your sister, she can take care of herself, but you should at least try to save these children. If for no other reason than to talk about it on this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 1:34 PM

actually, i've found that thru many divorces where there are kids involved, until the kids are 18, both spouses are kind of involved with each. Wherein, apparently, thru some divorce decrees neither spouse may move more than xx miles away cause that would affect the custody arrangements, so any moves would necessarily mean that the ex spouses would have to be involved with each other's plans - it's interesting.

And my DH and I discuss all the time that we'd have five (that's three from my sis, and two from his sis) more kids living with us - and we'd take them in and treat them as our own if that's what we need to do. We sign and realize that we could handle whatever we need to if the kids need it.

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 1:38 PM

Seriously, atlmom, can you invite your sister's kids to come visit for a week this summer, just to give them perspective on what constitutes normal healthy family life?

Posted by: Once more | April 16, 2008 1:38 PM

Well, really the reason for mentioning it was due to alimony and the fact that it might be needed in certain situations. *shrug* that's all.

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 1:38 PM

Seriously, atlmom, can you invite your sister's kids to come visit for a week this summer, just to give them perspective on what constitutes normal healthy family life?

Yes, and then send them back to hell.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 1:39 PM

i thought that in saying that she's not talking to me would convey the fact that the kids wouldn't come visit.

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 1:42 PM

Men suffer more than women in a divorce? You must be joking! In a divorce, the majority of women experience a lower standard of living; more than 80% of men end up with a higher standard of living. I know a man who married a woman jerk (verbal abuse) who outearned him, but he treated her badly (infidelity). Which of them deserved alimony? Answer: neither, only child support was granted.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 1:42 PM

and who's to say it's a normal healthy family life that i live in? I'd like to think so, and I'd like to think that my DH and I have not incorporated much of what our parents have done to raise us and/or taken what we think is healthy, disregard what we think is not, but who's to say?

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 1:43 PM

atlmom |

"And my DH and I discuss all the time that we'd have five (that's three from my sis, and two from his sis) more kids living with us - and we'd take them in and treat them as our own if that's what we need to do. We sign and realize that we could handle whatever we need to if the kids need it."

What's the holdup with getting the kids? In your case, they might be better off in foster homes than being raised
by a nit wit like you.

Posted by: Disgusted | April 16, 2008 1:44 PM

Fine, altmom, do nothing hopefully a concerned neighbor will call the cops or child services and a nice foster family will take the kids.

We get it, you are not going to do nothing.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 1:45 PM

Re: your first point: Why is it necessarily a "small" investment? Ten years of someone's life as the primary support - including potentially paying tuition bills and other educational expenses - can add up to a heck of a lot of money. If he'd had to do it all as student loans, he'd be paying it back for years. Why not just consider it a "student loan" that he's obligated to pay back?

Posted by: | April 16, 2008 1:28 PM

Do you view a spouse who spent ten years as the primary support while the other spouse stayed home in the same light? SAHP are really expensive to the working spouse. Does the working spouse in this instance get to stay home while the other supports them for ten years? From my point of view, while in the marriage, any sacrifice you do for the family (your spouse is part of your family) need not be repaid.

As far as the student loan statement, these loans are eventually paid off (it may not seem that way to some). The statement I responded to stated the wronged spouse was "was entitled to a part of the LIFETIME earnings", Not 3 years, apples and oranges.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 1:46 PM

babsy1:

Dying because you made a poor choice in choosing a mate is a little extreme, no?

I attended an Indian Country law enforcement meeting yesterday. Prosecuting non-Natives who victimize Natives is nearly impossible. Tribal courts have no prosecutorial authority over non-Natives, and the US Attorney's Office is very selective in the caes it prosecutes. Adding to the complication: tribal courts can hand down a sentence no longer than one year, so ostensibly you can kill someone on a reservation, and if the USAO refuses to prosecute, then the tribal courts can only hand down a sentence of one year to a tribal member. When Native women are abused by non-Native boyfriends/husbands, the perpetrator is rarely punished. So I pointed out that the women can kill the abusers and may only serve up to a year for the crime. I live a half-mile from a reservation, so now I know where to dump a body (okay, sick humor...).

For all of those giving Leslie grief about the fact she stayed in an abusive marriage for four years even though she was Ivy-educated: You obviously do not have ANY understanding of the dynamics of spousal abuse. This crosses all socio-economic lines--it's not just trailer park trash. This is why Leslie's forthcoming book on this subject is important--so many folks are still ignorant about this subject.

Posted by: pepperjade | April 16, 2008 1:46 PM

yes, it shouldn't necessarily be lifetime earnings that someone is entitled to, but in the end, the spouse who had the career would be better off than the one who stayed home after a divorce.

And really, who cares why the spouse stayed home, perhaps it was to tend to kids - but what if there aren't kids. The spouse with the income has indicated that they will support the other spouse, regardless of the reasons. And then when the SAHS doesn't have a career or anything - you can't really blame them for not having the same earning power. Then if there's a divorce, they just get screwed? What if it's the earning spouse who was abusive? or had an affair? They just don't have to pay alimony at all - they get the good career and earning power, and the SAHS just gets nothing? That really doesn't seem fair to me. With or without kids. The SAHS really was probably supporting the earning spouse in some way - if not monetarily, then stressful wise = as in the earning spouse didn't have to worry about going to the supermarket or planning vacations or the house or whatever - and could focus on their jobs.

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 1:51 PM

Pepperjade, you missed my point. Once abuse has occurred, the promise is null and void, and the abused spouse no longer has a moral obligation to the promise. I'm not suggesting people stay because they promised to, while being abused. Just be aware that leaving may lead to greater danger, and take precautions.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 1:51 PM

Men suffer more than women in a divorce? You must be joking! In a divorce, the majority of women experience a lower standard of living; more than 80% of men end up with a higher standard of living. I know a man who married a woman jerk (verbal abuse) who outearned him, but he treated her badly (infidelity). Which of them deserved alimony? Answer: neither, only child support was granted.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 1:42 PM

Probably because the woman enjoyed the higher standard of living due to the fact the man most likely had a higher standard of living before they got married. It is a known fact that historically, most women "marry up", what happens after divorce is that they both go back to where they would have been if they hadn't been married.

Raising girls to believe thay have a "choice" to work has many consequences and they are not all good.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 1:53 PM

clearly you have never tried to 'take' kids from someone who is being enabled by the family. Would not be a pretty picture.

Again, the kids are being fed and housed, not typically a time when they are taken away.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 1:55 PM

I wasn't suggesting that atlmom snatch her sister's children from their home. I had in mind more like luring them to come visit with the offer of a week's summer vacation in beautiful Atlanta. Maybe she could ask the kids herself, so they could work on their mother to let them come visit.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 1:59 PM

You wrote: "Which of them deserved alimony? Answer: neither, only child support was granted."

Please read your own words: she gets the children, hence the child support. She abused him and still got the kids. She probably got the house. She probably got everyone else in their lives to hate him.

Where do you think "child support" go to? Do you think that father has easy access to the kids, considering how abusive wife was WHILE they were still married? How do you know he was infidel? How often a person hears it from her and not him?

If you females want gender equality, you must play by the rules. So far you only pick and choose. When it comes to divorce, you get everything. When it comes to jobs, you work at an air-conditioned boutique stores, while men work in physically demanding jobs such as construction. Yet you complain all the time about inequality.

Be fair first.


Posted by: to babsys1 | April 16, 2008 2:00 PM

atlmom

"yes, it shouldn't necessarily be lifetime earnings that someone is entitled to, but in the end, the spouse who had the career would be better off than the one who stayed home after a divorce."

You are STILL posting today?! Can you take a hint?

Posted by: What a nit wit | April 16, 2008 2:01 PM

atlmom

"Southern thing indeed. I'm from NY and am the only one in my family who lives in the south."


Please give NY a break - stay in the South.

Posted by: Chittybangbang | April 16, 2008 2:03 PM

Speak for yourself, it takes one to know one.

Posted by: To What a nit wit | April 16, 2008 2:04 PM

And then when the SAHS doesn't have a career or anything - you can't really blame them for not having the same earning power.

-atlmom

why not? Especially if there are no children. You seem to want to punish the higher earning spouse for the opposite reason.

Take your post and replce SAHS with man and working spouse with woman and see if you feel the same way. Adults are adults and should be responsible for themselves, period.

So, what you're saying is I could marry a woman whom makes a lot of money, quit my job (nobody can force me, or anybody, to work in a marriage), wait a couple of years being supported, cheat on my wife, get her to divorce me and then get a portion of her earnings for life? Sssswwwweeet!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 2:04 PM

and before all of you condemn leslie, ask her why it really took four years - why? because she had to make the decision herself. She probably wasn't feeling too good about herself, she probably didn't want to admit that anyone else was right (i.e., anyone who said: you should leave him) - that she made a mistake. She may have felt that she deserved it. Any number of things.

So stop condemning her for being forthright in her sharing this with you.

Not that she needs me to defend her.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 2:04 PM

Leslie,

Yesterday, you lectured everyone on the need to be respectful of those they don't respect. Thanks, Mom. Today, you permit the following posts which, particularly the first, are offensive by almost any standards and contribute not one iota to the discourse. Is this the beginning of a new column, entitled, "atlmom -- scum of the earth"?

"You would make a perfect Nazi."

Posted by: What a phony | April 16, 2008 1:10 PM

You have an incredible character flaw, which you refuse to admit. Just like your sister...

God bless these poor kids and shame on you.

Posted by: WTF? | April 16, 2008 1:35 PM

Thank you WTF?

And altmom why don't you shut up about these kids since you are only doing it to get attention, not real advice on how to help them.

Posted by: | April 16, 2008 1:37 PM

What's the holdup with getting the kids? In your case, they might be better off in foster homes than being raised
by a nit wit like you.

Posted by: Disgusted | April 16, 2008 1:44 PM

Fine, altmom, do nothing hopefully a concerned neighbor will call the cops or child services and a nice foster family will take the kids.

We get it, you are not going to do nothing.

Posted by: | April 16, 2008 1:45 PM

MN, again: Somehow other Post blogs seem to be able to draw a reasonable line so that folks who don't feel the need to observe WWF Smackdown while at work can read without annoyance. Please learn their secret. Fast.


Posted by: MN | April 16, 2008 2:05 PM

MN: thank you for saying what I was thinking.

I am of the opinion people feel the need to denigrate others so quickly and nastily on this blog because they lack confidence in their own decisions.

Posted by: dotted | April 16, 2008 2:09 PM

"So, what you're saying is I could marry a woman whom makes a lot of money, quit my job (nobody can force me, or anybody, to work in a marriage), wait a couple of years being supported, cheat on my wife, get her to divorce me and then get a portion of her earnings for life? Sssswwwweeet!"

1 - Nobody is saying that. At all. The "lifetime earnings" point comes into play AFTER you have supported her full-time while she goes to school and gets the degree that lets her earn all that money.

2 - It's "who", not "whom"

3 - I suspect that if you refused to work and she wanted you to, it wouldn't take a couple of years for the divorce; it would be sooner. I'm thinking a quick annulment.

4 - If she makes a lot of money and you make none, my guess is that her divorce lawyer will be better than yours. (Well, okay, she was stupid enough to marry you, so maybe she has bad taste in lawyers, too. You'd better hope so.)

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 2:10 PM

I am of the opinion people feel the need to denigrate others so quickly and nastily on this blog because they lack confidence in their own decisions.

Posted by: dotted | April 16, 2008 2:09 PM

I think they feed off the attitude of the host. All of her blogs offend someone, and I think she does it on purpose. It does make for higher post count and while to some it is annoying, to others it is entertainment.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 2:11 PM

Many a man owes his success to his first wife and his second wife to his success. (I put my ex through college)

My unwanted divorce was amicable. My ex did not hurt me $$ financially compared to most divorce cases. But he took away my "family". What is the price of that?

********

Exactly! My ex hurt me with his cheating, his lies, his leaving but what hurts most of all is that he tore apart our family. My 14 month old now only sees his father a few times a week rather than every day. How do you compensate the loss of a partner to assist you with the everyday work of raising a child? How is one compensated for the child losing out on a family and the security that it brings? No amount of alimony/CS can make up for my ex's absence.
So why not have him take a financial blow for the blow he dealt us? He chose to leave, he should deal with the penalties.

Posted by: UVAjenny | April 16, 2008 2:13 PM

"MN, again: Somehow other Post blogs seem to be able to draw a reasonable line so that folks who don't feel the need to observe WWF Smackdown while at work can read without annoyance. Please learn their secret. Fast."

Tolerating/enabling/winking at abused kids is a line for me. I'll cross it every time to protect a child. What will you do? Complain that you are "offended"?

Posted by: Chittybangbang | April 16, 2008 2:14 PM

"I am of the opinion people feel the need to denigrate others so quickly and nastily on this blog because they lack confidence in their own decisions."

That's funny -- I thought it was because they were 12 and liked feeling all big and powerful. Amazing how little of this we got when people had to put one consistent name -- even a made-up one -- to their posts, isn't it?

Posted by: Laura | April 16, 2008 2:15 PM

Sorry but I'm incredulous--what planet do you people live on? First of all, atlmom hasn't even said what this abuse consists of (unless I skimmed too fast and missed it!). There are MANY levels and types of abuse--many of which, I'm sure, CPS could care less about. Do you all honestly think that CPS intervenes in every instance where an anonymous--or not anonymous, for that matter--person calls in to report that he/she saw the neighbor hit his kid?

Last time I checked, we're still in the country where you frequently hear about kids who were murdered or treated inhumanely and even though CPS was alerted they did nothing. Either I'm jaded or those of you chastising atlmom are living in a dream world because as far as I'm concerned, even if she did take it upon herself to report whatever abuse the guy is inflicting on the family, I'm 99% sure nothing would come of it.

Also:

"Anyway, I'm just saying that the idea that a woman has to stay married to her spouse because she is financially dependent on him is sorta outdated - it's really why we had laws for alimony in the first place. So that women *could* get out of lousy marriages and also keep some of their dignity."

I agree that it's outdated--but I don't have enough fingers and toes to list the number of women I know who are financially dependent on their spouses and wouldn't have it any other way, even if they're miserable.

Posted by: Maggie | April 16, 2008 2:15 PM

dotted, I am of the opinion that there is one very stupid, unhappy, insecure person with too much time on his hands who sees the Internet, generally, and this blog in particular, as an opportunity to vent without any social repurcussions. As long as Leslie lets it continue, it will.

Stupid because, with a modicum of effort, an intelligent person could rebut atlmom's viewpoints, choices and rationalizations effectively. Insulting atlmom's character is the tactic of a man or woman without a substantive rebuttal.

Posted by: MN | April 16, 2008 2:17 PM

Maggie

"Last time I checked, we're still in the country where you frequently hear about kids who were murdered or treated inhumanely and even though CPS was alerted they did nothing. Either I'm jaded or those of you chastising atlmom are living in a dream world because as far as I'm concerned, even if she did take it upon herself to report whatever abuse the guy is inflicting on the family, I'm 99% sure nothing would come of it. "

Tell it to the dead kids...

Posted by: Are you kidding? | April 16, 2008 2:18 PM

to 2:04

If that is what your spouse has agreed to (i..e, supporting you - WHILE you are also supporting her - i.e., taking care of all the life stuff) then I wouldn't see a problem with alimony.

BUT YOU CHANGED THE EQUATION!!! *IF* you then break the contract (as indicated above by someone else) by cheating, then all bets are off...

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 2:18 PM

1 - Nobody is saying that. At all. The "lifetime earnings" point comes into play AFTER you have supported her full-time while she goes to school and gets the degree that lets her earn all that money.

2 - It's "who", not "whom"

3 - I suspect that if you refused to work and she wanted you to, it wouldn't take a couple of years for the divorce; it would be sooner. I'm thinking a quick annulment.

4 - If she makes a lot of money and you make none, my guess is that her divorce lawyer will be better than yours. (Well, okay, she was stupid enough to marry you, so maybe she has bad taste in lawyers, too. You'd better hope so.)

Posted by: | April 16, 2008 2:10 PM

1 - Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 1:51 PM, said exactly that

2 - uuhhh, OK, you win that one

3 - Can a man do the same thing? It is a serious question. And if he does, will the consequenses (sp?) be the same? What right does the woman have to get an annulment. Are annulments even valid under the law, I thought they were religious.

4 - Would you say this to a SAHM?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 2:20 PM

I agree that it's outdated--but I don't have enough fingers and toes to list the number of women I know who are financially dependent on their spouses and wouldn't have it any other way, even if they're miserable.


Posted by: Maggie | April 16, 2008 2:15 PM

So, it really isn't outdated. We just want to believe it is.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 2:26 PM

I cannot believe how ugly and self-righteous some of the posters here can be. Leslie has been very open and up-front with her former situation, and yet some of the posters seem to have a very deep need to bash her at every turn for the bad situation she was in at every turn in her first marriage. I guess if you grow up in a privileged household and have an Ivy League education, your life is supposed to be perfect and you are a loser if it isn't. Strange view on reality.

Atlmom cannot do anything at all about her sister and the children. The kids live in a nice, big home and are fed and kept in clothing--and whether or not in the latest styles is irrelevant. Unless there are obvious signs of physical abuse such as constant bruises or regular trips to the emergency room for broken bones or uncontrolled bleeding, it is not likely that the authorities will do anything. There are children who are in far worse conditions than Atlmom's nieces/nephews, believe me. Ever hear of Banita Jacks?

And if her sister will not speak with her at all, how on earth can she get the kids to come visit for a week? Kidnap them? That opens up a different can of worms that is not likely to benefit the kids.

Of course, trolls don't care about reason--they only like to get up on their collective high-horse and spew invectives. Makes 'em feel big and important.

Posted by: Lynne | April 16, 2008 2:26 PM

There are children who are in far worse conditions than Atlmom's nieces/nephews, believe me. Ever hear of Banita Jacks?


How do you know? And if the cops or social services was called maybe the kids would open up.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 2:30 PM

Re stay-at-home (SAH) moms or dads: When things are good and everyone is married, it is a "privilege" to stay at home with kids. When things are bad and money is in dispute, it is called a "sacrifice."

Stop being so greedy. You got at least half of the marital property, didn't you? How much does he really owe you while he worked his butt off for years so you could have the privilege to stay at home and watch your adorable children grow up.


Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 2:32 PM

BUT YOU CHANGED THE EQUATION!!! *IF* you then break the contract (as indicated above by someone else) by cheating, then all bets are off...

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 2:18 PM

You didn't put that in any of the post I responded to. Replace "cheat on my wife" with "become so fat that she divorces me"

Did you replace the words like I suggested. See below:

"And really, who cares why the man stayed home, perhaps it was to tend to kids - but what if there aren't kids. The woman has indicated that she will support him, regardless of the reasons. And then when the man doesn't have a career or anything - you can't really blame him for not having the same earning power. Then if there's a divorce, he just gets screwed? What if it's the woman who was abusive? or had an affair? They just don't have to pay alimony at all - they get the good career and earning power, and the man just gets nothing? That really doesn't seem fair to me. With or without kids. The man really was probably supporting the earning spouse in some way - if not monetarily, then stressful wise = as in the woman didn't have to worry about going to the supermarket or planning vacations or the house or whatever - and could focus on their jobs.
Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 1:51 PM , edited by ananymous"

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 2:33 PM

How do you know? And if the cops or social services was called maybe the kids would open up.

--------------------------------------------

I read the paper, I listen to people who actually work in social services, and I know that they are limited in what they can and will do about reported abuses. You might get a social services visit, or even be assigned a social worker to the case. That does not mean the kids are removed from the home. Even if they are removed from the home, they are often sent back because the parent-child bond is considered to be practically sacrosanct.

That's how I know.

Posted by: Lynne | April 16, 2008 2:36 PM

And if her sister will not speak with her at all, how on earth can she get the kids to come visit for a week?

Ask the children directly. In other words, an end-run around their mother's authority, in hopes the kids will then nag their mother into letting them go visit auntie atlmom.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 2:36 PM

"There are children who are in far worse conditions than Atlmom's nieces/nephews, believe me. Ever hear of Banita Jacks?"

Is that the standard?

Abused kids love to hear this. It makes them feel MUCH better.

Posted by: Not on my watch | April 16, 2008 2:36 PM

I hold myself quite well thank you.

Posted by: UVAjenny | April 16, 2008 2:40 PM

What does this have to do with the question asked? (yes, I am 12)

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 2:44 PM


I find it rather revealing that atlmom has lots and lots of posts with very strong opinions except on the subject of stepping up to the plate to HELP HER OWN KIN.

I will view her future posts with this in mind and pray for these kids.

Posted by: Troubled | April 16, 2008 2:45 PM

1 - Nobody is saying that. At all. The "lifetime earnings" point comes into play AFTER you have supported her full-time while she goes to school and gets the degree that lets her earn all that money.


Posted by: | April 16, 2008 2:10 PM

1 - Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 1:51 PM, said exactly that

I respectfully disagree. SOMEONE said that a spouse is entitled to lifetime earnings, and I said I agreed with another poster that indicated perhaps a spouse was entitled to *some* earnings, but not necessarily LIFETIME.

Just to get the record straight.

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 2:45 PM

Um, I thought we were talking about men and alimony, not child protective services. I'd really like to hear from anyone who actually knows a man who is receiving or has received alimony. I'm beginning to think its an urban myth.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 2:47 PM

PLEASE. I discuss with my other sister, my extended family, et al, all the time. Or I did. She wants no help, so there you go. At some point, yes, she may want some, and I am here, but there's nothing I can do in the meantime.

But the reality is until SHE comes to some conclusion, not much can be done. She is perfectly happy with the situation the way it is, she is intent on being a drama queen, and the subject of others' conversations. She is wanting of all of this, for whatever reason. I have come to terms with the not being able to do anything. Yes, it has been discussed ad nauseum.

I brought it up because it was relevant to a discussion on alimony - as in - she has been home with the kids for years, chances are slim she would ever have much earning power as she had little to begin with - so if she would ever get divorced, yes, I do believe she would DESERVE quite a bit of money from the husband.

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 2:48 PM

Ask the children directly. In other words, an end-run around their mother's authority, in hopes the kids will then nag their mother into letting them go visit auntie atlmom.

Abused kids love to hear this. It makes them feel MUCH better.

---------------------------------------

I give up. The pseudonymous trolls always have a pithy come-back that is unfortunately meaningless, since life is not lived in the black-and-white world where things are either all good or all bad, there is a right way and a wrong way, and good will always triumph over evil if only you do whatever that right way is.

Atlmom, do what you can about it, but you also have to take care of your own nuclear family. The pseudonymous trolls obviously must do the impossible and step up to save the world from evil. The rest of us will just have to keep doing the best we can and stand back in awe when they succeed amazingly, as we all know they will.

Posted by: Lynne | April 16, 2008 2:48 PM

Lynne

Other people have posted that they also know people who work in social services and that things are different.

I am glad you know everything, but thank God you are not actually someone who does work with or for kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 2:48 PM

I respectfully disagree. SOMEONE said that a spouse is entitled to lifetime earnings, and I said I agreed with another poster that indicated perhaps a spouse was entitled to *some* earnings, but not necessarily LIFETIME.

Just to get the record straight.

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 2:45 PM

I don't think I said you did. But if I did, I was wrong. I kinda conflated your post with the one by:

Posted by: Ok, Two things | April 16, 2008 12:56 PM

Which you seemed to agree with. Sorry for the misattribution (is that a word?)

Did you post seem resoanable when I changed the pronouns?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 2:52 PM

Gee, they are different? Wow, do you really mean that in the world of social services that things are not all lock-step the same all over the country? Really? I am so glad to learn that from you, pseudonymous troll. That's very reassuring. I feel so much better now, just knowing that you have set the record straight for all of us and for all time.

I guess it's very much like the myth of "they fell in love, got married, and lived happily ever after." After all, that's what marriage is, right?

Oh, and I have kids (now grown) and grandkids, and I've worked directly with kids for much of my life. Thanks for the concern, but none of them have been abused or neglected under my watch. God had a lot to do with that, by the way.

Posted by: Lynne | April 16, 2008 2:54 PM

"Atlmom, do what you can about it, but you also have to take care of your own nuclear family."

Err... does atlmom have kids?

Posted by: Curious | April 16, 2008 2:55 PM

Ask the children directly. In other words, an end-run around their mother's authority, in hopes the kids will then nag their mother into letting them go visit auntie atlmom.

Abused kids love to hear this. It makes them feel MUCH better.

Relatives did this with my husband when he was a child in a difficult home situation (though it didn't rise to the level of the sort of things that CYS could do anything about). He'd go spend a week or two during summer vacation with a number of different relatives whose home situations were a whole lot better than his own. That way he had other adults to model for spousal and parental behaviors.

Posted by: To Lynne | April 16, 2008 2:56 PM

atlmom mentioned above that she has two kids. Read the posts before you type a comment.

Posted by: To curious | April 16, 2008 2:57 PM

Err... does atlmom have kids?
-------------------------------------
I believe she does, from what I've read. I could be wrong.

Relatives did this with my husband when he was a child in a difficult home situation (though it didn't rise to the level of the sort of things that CYS could do anything about).
---------------------------------------
If relatives are speaking to each other, that is a good option. Since atlmom's sister is not speaking to her, that would be something that perhaps a relative could do to give the kids a break and, as you noted, another view of parenting as well as normal spousal behavior.

Posted by: Lynne | April 16, 2008 3:00 PM

Well, my model was to NOT follow the model my parents had set for us. *shrug*

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 3:00 PM

Tolerating/enabling/winking at abused kids is a line for me. I'll cross it every time to protect a child. What will you do? Complain that you are "offended"?

Posted by: Chittybangbang | April 16, 2008 2:14 PM

Chitty, Don't flatter or enoble yourself. You are not crossing a line to protect a child. You are typing venom at strangers on a keyboard - no more, no less. There are many, many children in the world that need protection. Tell us when you actually get up out of your comfortable office chair and start DOING something for those children rather than tsk, tsking at a stranger whom you disdain.

I'm offended by Leslie's protestations that she is going to police this blog for minimal Internet civility. Your self-righteousness is not important enough to me to generate offense.

Posted by: MN | April 16, 2008 3:00 PM

Hey, I figure I do what I can. I helped in some ways to get my former nanny out of an abusive relationship when she was ready to. And now she's in a relationship with a great guy.

But I have come to terms, over time, of what I can and cannot accomplish in this world. I accept what my limitations are. It has taken a lot of time and energy, but I need to focus on my family and me, and how to help those who want to be helped or ask to be helped.

Yes, it hurts a lot to feel helpless, but we all feel that way to some extent about something in our lives, I suspect.

Oh, wait, not you, anonymous troll...

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 3:03 PM

Oh, wait, not you, anonymous troll...

Why are we trolls because we don't agree with you or Grandma Lynne?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 3:06 PM

You are trolls because you choose to be.

Posted by: Ellen | April 16, 2008 3:07 PM

Well, my model was to NOT follow the model my parents had set for us. *shrug*
-----------------------------------------

You and many people. :) I think we all can think back to childhood, say to ourselves, "I hated it when they did that...." and vow to never do that with our own kids. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes not.

I think most of us sincerely try to to our best, but we all make mistakes. Sadly, for some people in this world they don't ever know that what they experienced may not be normal or acceptable. That leads to generation after generation of abuse, neglect, and/or dysfunction.

I like to think, though, that most of us who entered marriage thoughtfully and seriously have tried and succeeded in being decent spouses and parents, even while making inevitable mistakes along the way. And even in bad circumstances, some kids seem to overcome some pretty astonishing odds and come out of a bad situation to live what most of us would call "normal" or "successful" lives. That is, to me, a true miracle.

Posted by: Lynne | April 16, 2008 3:07 PM

no, cause you are deliberately looking for a fight and don't even sign your posts when the reality is that it's STILL anonymous.

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 3:08 PM

Lynne: it shows to me that it's all a crap shoot!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 3:10 PM

If your one sister isn't speaking to you, then your other sister could intervene about having the kids come visit either you or her for a week this summer.

Posted by: To atlmom | April 16, 2008 3:13 PM

atlmom

"no, cause you are deliberately looking for a fight and don't even sign your posts when the reality is that it's STILL anonymous."

What was your point in mentioning that you had relatives who were being abused?

Posted by: Spineless Coward | April 16, 2008 3:14 PM

I thought I mentioned it. It was in the context of alimony in that my sister doesn't work, she takes care of the kids.

So I was saying that she was entitled to alimony. *shrug* that's all, I think. That would be if she would ever get divorced - the prospect of which is quite slim.

Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 3:19 PM

Lynne: it shows to me that it's all a crap shoot!

----------------------------------------

Sometimes it seems that way. I do not believe that anyone gets through life without some problems or difficulties. Life is not always easy, fair, or predictable, unfortunately. It just seems to me that some people have to live with great deprivation (of various types) and even horror, while others live lives of relative comfort and ease--at least from outward appearances.

I feel that we all should lend a helping hand when and where possible. Knowing when and where it's possible is not always easy.

Posted by: Lynne | April 16, 2008 3:19 PM

Does anyone know any man who took alimony who is not a celebrity?

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 3:21 PM

Leslie:
Please re-institute the required signon to participate in this forum.

Thanks.

Posted by: chemguy | April 16, 2008 3:22 PM

Well, since I'm the 2:10 poster to which this responded, I'll respond to it:

"1 - Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 1:51 PM, said exactly that"

No, she didn't, as she noted. One for me. :-)

"2 - uuhhh, OK, you win that one"

Oh, goody! Two for me. :-)


"3 - Can a man do the same thing? It is a serious question. And if he does, will the consequenses (sp?) be the same? What right does the woman have to get an annulment. Are annulments even valid under the law, I thought they were religious."

First, annulments are a LEGAL mechanism to declare that a marriage never existed. That's different from a divorce, which says that the marriage existed but is now over. The allowable reasons for annulments vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but they usually include bigamy (if she's already married to somebody else, you couldn't legally marry her. So it's an annulment you need, not a divorce.) and fraud (e.g., Concealment - such as, one of the parties concealed a drug addiction, prior criminal record or having a sexually transmitted disease). It's a very real, legal distinction. (Yes, some churches also use the term "annulment", but make no mistake, it's a civil law thing to which I referred.)

On this bullet as well, yes, a man could do the same thing - if his wife refused to work after marriage, he could attempt to get an annulment for fraud by proving that she had agreed to continue working as a condition of getting married. I'm not a lawyer; I don't know if it would work. I suspect it would be a matter of how good your lawyer was, and how sympathetic a judge you could find.

So, two-and-a-half to three for me! :-)

"4 - Would you say this to a SAHM?"

Well, your post said nothing about kids; just that you'd wait a couple of years, have an affair, and then accept a divorce in exchange for lifetime benefits. But what I would say to ANYONE getting a divorce, including (probably especially) a SAHM, is that it depends on how good a divorce lawyer you have. He/she with the better lawyer generally wins.

You figure out the final score. :-)

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 3:25 PM

"Does anyone know any man who took alimony who is not a celebrity?"

I know several women who paid their ex-husbands (non-celebrities) alimony.

Posted by: Gizmo | April 16, 2008 3:26 PM

MN - heart ya!

atlmom and Lynne: keep at it. Those of us who have heard your voice over time know...you rock.

Posted by: dotted | April 16, 2008 3:31 PM

dotted, back atcha! :)

Posted by: Lynne | April 16, 2008 3:33 PM

Hi everyone.

Got stuck in heinous Pope traffic while taking one child to a doctor's appt and then picking up another who got sick at school in the meantime.

Sorry to lapse on deleting those offensive posts. MN, I agreed with everyone on your list and deleted them all. Let me know if I missed any.

Thanks, Pepperjade and others. Many people absolutely do not understand the dynamics of an abusive relationship.

I hope my book helps explain why some people get sucked into them and then why we stay.

We've all been in a bad relationship (or two...or many...) and an abusive relationship is not terribly different. Just far more extreme, and often, you don't even know at the time that you are being abused.

As incredible as that seems, it was true, at least for me.

Posted by: Leslie | April 16, 2008 3:33 PM

Leslie - you used one of my most favorite words..."heinous" !!! And it suits that traffic situation so well

Posted by: dotted | April 16, 2008 3:34 PM

Dotted: thank you. I just must be bored today. :)

I don't let it get to me. Well, not too much. Of course, I can have a thick skin when I want to. The whole situation we're discussing has made me want to cry many times. The worst is the end when I'm done discussing and I've learned there's not much I can do. Feeling helpless is not a good thing for me (or I suspect most people). I always want to do something. But sometimes I have to accept that I can't. *shrug* but that's part of growing up I guess.


Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 3:35 PM

Martin Sheen was once asked why he went to prostitutes. He's a famous guy, couldn't he find someone to be with?

His answer was: I don't pay them for sex. I pay them to go away.

I just find it a very good funny line. It may or may not be relevant to today's conversation, but I just thought of it.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 3:37 PM

DAMN!!! it wasn't MARTIN it was CHARLIE. OOPPSS!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 3:38 PM

"DAMN!!! it wasn't MARTIN it was CHARLIE. OOPPSS!"

Martin is no angel.

Posted by: Fan | April 16, 2008 3:41 PM

To 3:37, that was Charlie Sheen, not his father. Charlie was caught up in the Heidi Fleiss "Hollywood Madam" scandal as one of her regular customers.

Someone did a comparison between Spitzer's favorite escort company (charging thousands of dollars per "date") and Deborah Palfrey's enterprises (apparently charging about $250 for the same service). What was asserted is that the difference in price was "hush money". For your extra few kilobucks, you got somebody who wouldn't talk about you.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 3:41 PM

Sheesh, go over to the Celebritology chat if you want to discuss this stuff.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 3:44 PM

"And really, who cares why the spouse stayed home, perhaps it was to tend to kids - but what if there aren't kids. The spouse with the income has indicated that they will support the other spouse, regardless of the reasons. And then when the SAHS doesn't have a career or anything - you can't really blame them for not having the same earning power. Then if there's a divorce, they just get screwed? What if it's the earning spouse who was abusive? or had an affair? They just don't have to pay alimony at all - they get the good career and earning power, and the SAHS just gets nothing? That really doesn't seem fair to me. With or without kids. The SAHS really was probably supporting the earning spouse in some way - if not monetarily, then stressful wise = as in the earning spouse didn't have to worry about going to the supermarket or planning vacations or the house or whatever - and could focus on their jobs."

I answer all of those rhetorical questions with a "YES!" Even if the SAHS was supporting the earning spouse in some non-monetary way, presumably that support ends when the marriage ends and so should the monetary support. The partnership ends and each adult takes care of themselves as well as possible. The worker might have to learn to cook and iron his/her own clothes. The SAHS is going to have to leave the house and work.

Lynn said, "Life is not always easy, fair, or predictable, unfortunately. It just seems to me that some people have to live with great deprivation (of various types) and even horror, while others live lives of relative comfort and ease--at least from outward appearances."

Exactly. I don't make as much money as 50% of the people in this area. Boo hoo for me. People of the opposite sex never approach me while they approach my ex-spouse all the time. Boo-hoo for me. It's not fair. Too bad, I have to deal with it.

Posted by: PersonL | April 16, 2008 3:45 PM

I'm assuming you meant that the traffic was heinous, not the Holy Father, but I'm stilling laughing at that sentence. We needed a little lightening up.

Couldn't you apply the same logic of women marrying up to men who marry JLo? Set for life...

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 3:47 PM

People of the opposite sex never approach me while they approach my ex-spouse all the time.

Why would you want them to?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 3:49 PM

Re PersonaL: yes, and my ex somehow always finds another woman to marry and cartloads of women with whom to cheat on the next wife. Unfair in terms of sex certainly, but I still think I came out the better than he did. And I did make sure he didn't get that fellowship that he wanted. He never knew why he wasn't selected for it, and is still stewing to this day. Yes, I did go to confession for that evil pleasure!

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 3:52 PM

I think in some cases men should get spousal support. But when one spouse has physically abused the other and then gets it that's outrageous! Fortunately for me, my ex didn't physically (but mentally) abuse me. I had the higher income and handled the vast majority of the domestic stuff. Thankfully he was man enough not to ask for alimony. Maybe I am much luckier than I thought.

Posted by: Barnette | April 16, 2008 3:53 PM

I think in some cases men should get spousal support. But when one spouse has physically abused the other and then gets it that's outrageous! Fortunately for me, my ex didn't physically (but mentally) abuse me. I had the higher income and handled the vast majority of the domestic stuff. Thankfully he was man enough not to ask for alimony. Maybe I am much luckier than I thought.

Posted by: Barnette | April 16, 2008 3:54 PM

I did make sure he didn't get that fellowship that he wanted. He never knew why he wasn't selected for it

That's mature.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 3:54 PM

to Anonymous @3:54: Is that you, Sparky? Guess the cat's out of the bag now!

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 3:56 PM

Well, since I'm the 2:10 poster to which this responded, I'll respond to it:

"1 - Posted by: atlmom | April 16, 2008 1:51 PM, said exactly that"

No, she didn't, as she noted. One for me. :-)

"2 - uuhhh, OK, you win that one"

Oh, goody! Two for me. :-)


"3 - Can a man do the same thing? It is a serious question. And if he does, will the consequenses (sp?) be the same? What right does the woman have to get an annulment. Are annulments even valid under the law, I thought they were religious."

First, annulments are a LEGAL mechanism to declare that a marriage never existed. That's different from a divorce, which says that the marriage existed but is now over. The allowable reasons for annulments vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but they usually include bigamy (if she's already married to somebody else, you couldn't legally marry her. So it's an annulment you need, not a divorce.) and fraud (e.g., Concealment - such as, one of the parties concealed a drug addiction, prior criminal record or having a sexually transmitted disease). It's a very real, legal distinction. (Yes, some churches also use the term "annulment", but make no mistake, it's a civil law thing to which I referred.)

On this bullet as well, yes, a man could do the same thing - if his wife refused to work after marriage, he could attempt to get an annulment for fraud by proving that she had agreed to continue working as a condition of getting married. I'm not a lawyer; I don't know if it would work. I suspect it would be a matter of how good your lawyer was, and how sympathetic a judge you could find.

So, two-and-a-half to three for me! :-)

"4 - Would you say this to a SAHM?"

Well, your post said nothing about kids; just that you'd wait a couple of years, have an affair, and then accept a divorce in exchange for lifetime benefits. But what I would say to ANYONE getting a divorce, including (probably especially) a SAHM, is that it depends on how good a divorce lawyer you have. He/she with the better lawyer generally wins.

You figure out the final score. :-)

Posted by: | April 16, 2008 3:25 PM


1 - While atlmom didn't, "just two points (JTP)" and I didn't read any universal resistance to their statement. And, according to JTP, s/he was referring to existing law not just opinion. I think I win this one after all.

score: 1 for me ;)

2 conceeded, not worth a full point though

3 - In what way, is what I said I would do fraud, bigamy or concealment? There is no requirement or assumption in marriage that either spouse work, unless it were in the marriage contract or prenup. Without a specific assent to agreeing to work there are no legal grounds for annulment. Moral, they are many.

score: 2-0.5, me ;)

4 - I'll give you this one based on content, but I was questioning you tone more than the content and I doubt you would say it to a SAHS the same way.

score: 2-1.5 me I win!

While this was fun, my point was we should look at our policies from the point of view of how they can be abused and taken advantage of, not how they would work when everyone is honest and fair.

BTW, people do exactly what I said I could do. We call those people gold-diggers.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 4:05 PM

I did make sure he didn't get that fellowship that he wanted. He never knew why he wasn't selected for it"

Interesting moral compass.

Posted by: Sparky | April 16, 2008 4:11 PM

Couldn't you apply the same logic of women marrying up to men who marry JLo? Set for life...

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 3:47 PM

Yup, a population of 2 is equal to a population of millions. BTW, I thin JLo married up when she married Ben. (Did they get married, I don't realy pay attention)

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 4:14 PM

Dearest Diary,

I lay pen down to paper in the fervent hope that I will one day comprehend the hypocrisy of the uber mom.

Posted by: Becky | April 16, 2008 4:17 PM

"He chose to leave, he should deal with the penalties."


Well, if he is paying child support (which he presumably is", he *is* paying the financial "penalty" for having left the marriage, in addition to the increased living expenses of living separately. The idea that people should be penalized for a marriage not working out is retrograde -- the compensation should be oriented towards the child-related costs (as is child support) and rehabilitative alimony in cases where it is needed.

Luckily, when our marriage failed, we were able to end it more or less amicably, following the statutory child support calculation in our state, without the payment of alimony in either direction due to the fact that we both earned pretty much the same amount of money in any case and had stable, professional jobs. The key to divorcing well is being able to move beyond the bitterness and keep yourself facing forward. If you wallow in the bitterness, it will consume you entirely and ruin your life.

Posted by: Novaseeker | April 16, 2008 4:36 PM

"I answer all of those rhetorical questions with a "YES!" Even if the SAHS was supporting the earning spouse in some non-monetary way, presumably that support ends when the marriage ends and so should the monetary support. The partnership ends and each adult takes care of themselves as well as possible. The worker might have to learn to cook and iron his/her own clothes. The SAHS is going to have to leave the house and work."

Only problem is if the monetarily compensated spouse has been very successfull in thier career which may be in no small part due to the help of the SAHS, the monetarily compensated spouse can afford to hire help. Homemaker skills are not well compensated. It will be easier for the spouse who was working outside the home to maintain the lifestyle that was created by their efforts. The question is if they were a team why does one party get the benefit more than the other? The idea of alimony is to allow for a chance at a balance. Notice I said chance. If don't use the transition time to improve your skills, manage the property you recieved so that you can be self supporting, then the ex no longer should have an obligation.

Posted by: Mom_of_1 | April 16, 2008 4:36 PM

Clearly I missed an eventful OB day. Someone around 1100 said ex-spouses sharing military pensions is based on 10 of marriage which is untrue. The law is generically referred to as the 20-20 rule - 20 or more years of service and marriage - it's gender neutral. (I speak from familial experience).

atlmom: I know you have spoken of your sister before - my heart goes out to you. I have a family member who has spoken of leaving a verbally abusive situation for 4+ years - it's difficult because you can't make them walk away. You worry about their mental health, the example it sets to the children in the house...

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | April 16, 2008 4:48 PM

If ever there was an argument for registration, this thread is it.

Posted by: DCD | April 16, 2008 5:04 PM

Sparky, trust me, his moral compass never pointed anywhere near true north.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 5:09 PM

OT to babsy1

I guess that you are new here, I do not recall seeing your name before. But (to bore long time posters/lurkers) I am a Viet Nam vet and the son and parent of veterans. My younger daughter aka AF dau is currently in service. I know KLB is a vet also as well as a few others here.

OT to everyone

Frieda is doing OK. But she still had not modeled that wig yet. The color is Copper Red.

Posted by: Fred | April 16, 2008 5:11 PM

woo hoo to Fred and Frieda! Copper Red...I love it

Posted by: dotted | April 16, 2008 5:15 PM

OT to Fred: I'm a longtime lurker, but didn't know everyone's backgrounds. Thanks for the update - I'm a daughter of a vet, sister to 3 vets, an aunt to a vet, and a Navy nurse.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 5:15 PM

I am very surprised that ANYONE gets alimony any more. A friend divorced in the late 80s and his ex wanted house, car, private schools, tithes to her church, etc but of course wanted it all paid for by my friend, her soon to be ex. The judge (a woman) gave her the car and half the house ...and the payments to go with them. The ex wailed that she would "have to get a job!" The judge looked at her blankly and replied that she was an adult with a master's degree and capable of working and supporting her own lifestyle. The ex again wailed, "I dont WORK! I am a homemaker! My only job is raising my children!" the judge again flattly stated "not any more - now you are a divorced woman with bills to pay." The judge DID give her 30% of his income to support the children but anything beyond that would have to be from whatever salary she managed to make. Over the years there have been problems with her not understanding that CHILD SUPPORT is for the CHILDREN and includes only necessities, not private schools and trips to Europe or a new car for mom. Not being able to afford the house, she couldnt get a mortgage to buy him out and refused to sell it so it was lost to foreclosure. That was the last time (1990) anyone I ever knew got alimony - child support yes, but alimony no.

Posted by: tunatofu | April 16, 2008 5:24 PM

Does anyone know any man who took alimony who is not a celebrity?

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 3:21 PM

Babsy1 my previous boss was required to pay her ex-husband both alimony and child support. She paid the alimony for a short time - I believe she said 3 years. But the divorced when their daughter was 2 so when I met her she had been paying child support to him for almost 10 years.

As background they both worked before they got married and during their marriage. When they divorced she was making about 30k more than him. His income has increased over time - but so has her's which is why she continues to pay him child support. They live near each other and their daughter spends 3.5 days with each parent each week.

Posted by: noname1 | April 16, 2008 5:25 PM

The rule for military pension division is not 20/20. I work for the DoD and the rule was enacted by Congress under the
Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA.

What the USFSPA actually states is that the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) will pay directly the former spouse's share of the military retirement if there were at least 10 years of marriage overlapping 10 years of creditable military service (the 10/10 rule).

The rule is 10/10 - however states can still award part of the pension if the marriage doesn't meet the 10/10 rule but DFAS does not have to make the payments to the ex-spouse. The member has to write the check themselves.

Posted by: To Product of a Working Mother | April 16, 2008 5:30 PM

"Only problem is if the monetarily compensated spouse has been very successfull in thier career which may be in no small part due to the help of the SAHS, the monetarily compensated spouse can afford to hire help. Homemaker skills are not well compensated. It will be easier for the spouse who was working outside the home to maintain the lifestyle that was created by their efforts. The question is if they were a team why does one party get the benefit more than the other"

I don't see a problem. If the spouse working away from home was able to bring in a relatively high salary due significantly to the support of a SAHS, then we would expect the salary to go down significantly when the support of the SAHS is no longer there. The SAHS is now free to apply his/her magical talents for increasing salary elsewhere. The last question above is simply another way of saying "It's not fair", which I posted my views on above. If the team breaks up, neither one should get to benefit from the talents of the other.

Posted by: PersonL | April 16, 2008 5:34 PM

Only problem is if the monetarily compensated spouse has been very successfull in thier career which may be in no small part due to the help of the SAHS, the monetarily compensated spouse can afford to hire help. Homemaker skills are not well compensated. It will be easier for the spouse who was working outside the home to maintain the lifestyle that was created by their efforts. The question is if they were a team why does one party get the benefit more than the other? The idea of alimony is to allow for a chance at a balance. Notice I said chance. If don't use the transition time to improve your skills, manage the property you recieved so that you can be self supporting, then the ex no longer should have an obligation.

Posted by: Mom_of_1 | April 16, 2008 4:36 PM

What if the monetarily compensated spouse wants to take a break from working so hard? Maybe they only had that high powered career to support the family (spouse) relationship that no longer exists. The assumption here is that the high powered career is only a monetary benefit and not work.

The SAHS benefitted during the marriage by not having to work to support themselves or thier family and having continual contact and invlovment in their childrens lives, the choice they made was to have their benefit during the marriage. No adult is entitled to a standard of living they don't provide for themselves.

So the spouse that worked throughout the marriage gets to continue working to support the spouse that usually gets the kids and half of the marital property? That sure doesn't sound fair to me.

Maybe the non monetarily compensated spouse should comne over and cook dinner twice a week so the monetarily compensated spouse won't have such a hard time learning how to take care of themselves. Should only take a couple of years. ;)

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2008 5:40 PM

OT to babys1

I forgot to mention grandson of a vet also!

OT to anyone who might be interested. Bandages came off the hand today! I am back to using both hands to type!

Posted by: Fred | April 16, 2008 5:43 PM

seems to me that the spouse with the money doesn't usually have too much trouble finding someone else to do the cooking, either for love or money (or both).

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 5:43 PM

Man, I missed a good discussion. Too bad I actually had to do some WORK today.

Babsy1 - I do know a woman who had to pay alimony to her deadbeat, worthless husband. She had a regular job and made a decent living. He was a mediocre musician who refused to get a regular job. So when they split, she had to give him rehabilitative alimony for a couple of years. Sucks, but she is still better off then he is, and the alimony has long since stopped.

Posted by: Emily | April 16, 2008 6:02 PM

"The question is if they were a team why does one party get the benefit more than the other?"

I will say this. Regardless of laws and public policy, I think that spouses who think that they can sacrifice for the other spouse in the interest of the marriage, with no thought to their own self-interest, are naive at best and stupid at worst. Look, marriges fail. So do what you can for your marriage, but also think of yourself. If you choose to become a SAHP, then at least be smart, do it for a short while, and make sure that if the marriage fails, you have the wherewithal to support yourself and your children. Keep your skills up. Work part-time. Go back to school. Whatever it is, do something to make sure that you can make it independently. That is your only safety net in case of disaster, and people who go without are foolish.

Posted by: Emily | April 16, 2008 6:09 PM

Emily,
I'm not sure that calling my DH foolish is appropriate. He's been the SAHP for 16 years. He and I had planned for him to get to go to school and get a music degree after the kids were in school - but life happened and plans changed. By the way, he's a lot better than mediocre, as another musician was just described, and could certainly earn a living from his music if he were only responsible for himself, and had no family responsibilities.

Raising a kid with autism to become a successful and independent adult has been, and continues to be, a more than full-time responsibility. If we were to part company (not likely - we recently described ourselves: "as close to the fairytale happily-ever-after as real life ever gets"), he'd certainly get alimony, child support, the better of the two cars, and the house. I'd get to keep paying the mortgage. I would insist! Because that would be in the best interests of both boys.

Now, if you want to call me foolish, go ahead. I still think that we'd both be better described as responsible parents.

Posted by: Sue | April 16, 2008 7:02 PM

Sue,
Please don't take it personally. I am sure that your husband is great. I'm just saying that being a SAHP is a risk. Perhaps some people think that the risk is small, or even necessary, due to circumstances. But to be completely financially dependent on another person is risky. Not just because of divorce. As you said, life happens. What if you were to become ill and not be able to continue to work? Perhaps disability insurance would cover some of your earnings, but at what percentage and for how long?

Perhaps your marriage is stable and good, but there are a lot of marriages out there, based on this discussion, that are't so stable, and alimony becomes an issue when one spouse can't support him/herself. Of course we have to be responsible to our children, but IMO, part of being responsible includes providing them with financial security. And to me, this means being able to provide for them if the other parent becomes unable or unwilling.

Posted by: EMily | April 17, 2008 6:45 PM

Thanks, Emily.
I got your point. You got mine, too.

Posted by: Sue | April 17, 2008 7:19 PM

My ex tried to get me to pay alimony during our very contentious divorce. This was based on the fact that he was a (very ineffective) house-husband during the last 7 years of our marriage. I did have to pay court-ordered support to him for about a year of $125 a week, which was rather galling. However, the judge in his final decree basically told my ex that his free ride was over and he had better find a way to get back to work. Since he had been working under the table throughout our marriage, this wasn't hard for him to do. He just didn't want to.

I had always been the sole support of my children and I continue in that role to this day.

Posted by: Erika | April 23, 2008 8:57 PM

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