This Ms. Deech is a little off in places, but for the most part she hits the nail square on the head using little more than some facts, common sense, and a little reasoning. Of course she's a small beacon of light in a nation that watches hordes of women graduate college and earn substantial salaries then declare them helpless victims in divorce. I call it American Femi-nazi syndrome. How else would you characterize people thinking and behaving in ways opposed to observable fact?
It's time to update our divorce laws
Tuesday 15 September 2009
Women are still treated as financially dependent on men by laws that haven't been overhauled since 1857. It's unfair all round.
Imagine three sisters. One is very pretty and marries a top footballer; they have no children and it is a short marriage before she leaves him for an international celebrity. The second sister marries a clergyman and has several children; the marriage ends after 30 years as he is moving into retirement. The third sister never marries; she stays at home and nurses first their mother, who has a disability, and then their father, who has Alzheimer's, and dies without making a will. Which of the three sisters will get the windfall, an amount sufficient to keep her in luxury for the rest of her days, when her relationship with a man comes to an end? And which one most needs and deserves financial support, even of the bare minimum?
The divorce courts are still trying to put women in the position they would have been in had the marriage not ended. The message is that getting married to a well-off man is an alternative career to one in the workforce. If you are married to a clergyman with a tied house and little income, you will get next to nothing, and of course not even the continued occupation of the vicarage. If your parents do not make a will in your favour, and you are over the age of majority, you might be able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975, but to be eligible the claimant has to have been economically dependant on the deceased, and in the case of the carer daughter, it was more probably the other way round.
The law is of course gender neutral on the face of it. Men too can expect to continue in the style of living to which they have been accustomed if they have the good fortune to divorce a wife who is wealthier than they are.
You hear that guys? Become gold diggers. Its divorce your wife and blow her out before she does the same to you. Ahhh, amoré.
Guy Ritchie reportedly received about £50m from Madonna, the largest ever settlement made for a man. He was worth about £30m and she £300m at the time. Here are some other examples of how maintenance is allocated on divorce. Of course they are all well-off families, for the poor have nothing to allocate. Beverley Charman was awarded £48m after a 28-year marriage during which she pursued no outside employment, a sum legally notable because it went far beyond what had once been the yardstick, namely the spouse's reasonable requirements.
I love how celebs are always brought up when it comes to divorce. Who gives a flying fig what those people do? They have enough money to act like selfish children and so they will. Many want to use their money to court a sexy mate they could otherwise not get. Fine. But the rest of the world has to live in reality. We have bills and only so much income. The poor honestly can't afford to get divorced. Period. If the husband makes most of the couple's money (and being poor, that's very little), then he can't live on his own and pay his ex. So divorce is basically impossible and the poor should be all but banned from divorce. Poor children with poor education and no father are basically the gang members of tomorrow - society simply can't bear it. The middle class is easy - the person who wants out gets nothing and if you're not married, don't bother even showing up to ask for maintenance for a baby out of wedlock. Children out of wedlock and the slack attitude towards LIFELONG marriage is making courtship and mating a farce.
Mr and Mrs Miller married in 2000 and divorced after 3 years, with no children. He was then 40 and she 35, and he left her for another woman. She earned £85K a year and had no assets; he had £17m or so and a huge salary. The award to her of £5m was upheld all the way on appeal. Mr and Mrs McFarlane had three children after a marriage that lasted 16 years. She gave up her career as a solicitor to be a mother. The court of appeal awarded her half the matrimonial assets and £250,000 a year for five years. Her appeal against the time limitation of five years was successful. In the case of White v White, the legal costs of the couple were £500K to gain assets of £1.5m when both their appeals were dismissed by the House of Lords. So a clear first point to notice is that the costs of disputes may amount to as much as the assets. This is because of the lack of certainty. So the procedure is bad and the theory and effects that underlie the awards even worse.
Maintenance law has not been thoroughly overhauled since 1857. It has been left behind by social developments. Most women, even with children, now work or are expected to work; they claim equal pay and opportunities in employment; there is contraception to enable a family to be planned, and more women are entering higher education and the professions than men.
You mean, men and women are equal with equal opportunities? Imagine that. About 20 years after the fact its suddenly relevant. Go figure.
It is contradictory if family law assumes that a woman can and should stay at home and care for their children and be compensated for that on divorce, while society calls for women to take 50% of top jobs.
Society doesn't call for anything. Women work because they want to. My mom worked and did very well and that was in the mid-1980s. Now? How are we even talking about this? My boss's boss is a woman and her boss is a woman and I work for a software company for Chrissake. WOMEN = MEN so far as work goes. Open your bloody eyes. I've got story after story from Massachusetts family court of high-earning women quitting their jobs before going to court and attempting to look like poor, humble, sweet Ms. "He-Screwed-Me-over." Their husbands are then financially destroyed. This is a disgusting ploy. Man, or woman, if you have at least a college education, then it should be assumed you can support yourself and half of your kids needs. PERIOD. If she wanted to quit her job and be a lifelong mom even though she could've worked and made the same money as dad? She has 3, maybe 4 years from the child's birth out of the workforce that can be assumed to be non or low-earning years, if that. After that, YOU CAN WORK AND EARN THE SAME AS ANY MAN. NO EXCUSES. Hell, most MARRIED moms these days take but half a year off to have kids and then cannot afford NOT to return to work! So in divorce she should not work or work less? Why? Why would you expect to make the same money by working less simply because you are divorced, especially when the divorce may very well have been caused by your own infidelity! Why would divorce IMPROVE one's financial position, man or woman?!?!?!
Just under half the workforce is female, and 70% of married women work, even mothers, although the work rate of single mothers is lower; 40% of marriages break down; more women will become widows or single and have to keep themselves; 50% of divorces are of marriages that lasted nine years or less. But the concept of female dependency on the male continues to permeate maintenance laws.
More than that, maintenance laws cushion and legitimise the attitudes of employers who discriminate against women, because they are aware of the "meal ticket for life" mentality.
Employers don't discriminate against those who work hard. Period. But if a man is divorced and was ruined financially and its generally known that women get rich after divorce, then yeah, I can see a male manager think his divorced female employee is doing quite well so he may think about her differently than he should for promotion. So eliminate that by making men and women equal in divorce. Problem fixed.
The strongest argument in favour of maintenance is that the divorced wife will have raised children and her career has been undermined by marriage. Given that most women work, this is a matter of choice; childcare does not take up the whole of a long marriage; and the wealthier the spouses the less likely that there was much to do by way of housework.
Careful madame. Publish sensible paragraphs like that in the U.S. and N.O.W. will most certainly have you hunted down and shot for fear of inciting reasonable discussion on divorce reform in the ole' US of A. You even used the word 'choice'. Horrible. Women can't choose. They don't even have a brain, which is why all of their great employment and earnings is so easy for the feminazis to ignore or lie about.
The notion of "compensation" recently put forward by judges as a basis for awards is unrealistic. It is covering up for the fact that our divorce rate is high because in part the law has made it easy, and we are punishing men and trying to limit the welfare liability of the state by making them pay over assets and pension funds. Perceptions of what might happen to their funds on divorce may affect men's willingness to commit (and women's, if they have means). This adds to the high cost to society of marital breakdown overall. Regardless of the theories, some certainty about the way to split assets may be more important than total fairness, especially when considering how difficult negotiations may impact on the children's wellbeing.
Let me help you narrow that down: MEN, DON'T MARRY. Your wife can ruin you if she chooses, without cause, through no-fault divorce. You will be financially SLAUGHTERED on the basis of "saving the state the welfare money needed to care for your handicapped, unskilled, illiterate" wife. What's that you say? Your wife outdid you in school? Made more than you before leaving work to have kids and now makes your salary or more since returning to work? Shutup you idiot. That's obviously irrelevant. She's a brainless knave. Now cough up that 2 grand in child support you DEADBEAT!
One could actually categorise divorce cases into four. Short marriages with no children; couples on welfare; middle-income couples with a house and not much more; and the wealthy.
For the poor and unemployed there can only be a token order, a reminder to the father that he has children for whom he is responsible, and that the order could be revisited if circumstances change. For the slightly better off, there is reallocation of the house and there may be repayments of legal aid to be made. Then there is one law for the rich and one for the poor, because the wealthy wife gets a lump sum and has no need to pursue, as the poorer may have to, the enforcement of periodical payments.
Nonesense. This is bureaucratic waste. Let's save EVERYONE money. If she leaves she gets none of his money and vice versa unless one of them can prove they were beaten or repeatedly cheated on or some irreparable harm has been done to the children. Divorce must be discouraged. But if someone was cheated on they are to receive a small portion of the other's income for the purpose of raising the children and half of the assets acquired DURING the marriage ONLY. That means the person who was cheated on GETS THE KIDS. Period. We need disincentives for divorce and disincentives for cheating. This does both. Fuck the ludicrous, bankrupting lawyers and fuck the power-hungry judges trying to make the correct judgement on something as complicated as a RELATIONSHIP with a few 15 minute "hearings" that are mainly full of lies.
It is no wonder that England is the divorce capital of Europe and out of step with other European countries. The notion that a wife should get half of the joint assets of a couple after even a short childless marriage has crept up on us without any parliamentary legislation to this effect – the judges have developed the law in a paternalistic and unprincipled fashion that has departed widely from parliamentary intentions.
She shouldn't get half the assets with a short marriage and lots of kids, nevermind none. Not unless she was cheated on. If she cheated on him, she gets zero and pays him, if necessary, enough to feed and clothe the kids. If she was cheated on, assets are split and she gets a small stipend to help pay for child expenses. You'll find her years later, remarried and middle class but probably not filthy rich. Done. Fair. If she wasn't cheated on, beaten, etc. and wants to leave, she gets nothing and he gets the kids. She can visit often. Done. KIDS STAY WITH THE STABLE PARENT. Those are typically the people WHO DON'T CHEAT, man or woman.
Marriage isn't a joke, its not a rental agreement. ITS SUPPOSED TO BE FOR LIFE. Let's make rules that give marriage a little respect. Marrying for 3 years as if you were Liz Taylor and demanding a fortune upon divorce plus any children and lifetime support? Stop acting like a ridiculous child and grow up. You're not getting what you didn't earn and you're only getting ANYTHING if you were unfairly harmed. So do yourself a favor and stay married. Others do it. What one person can do another can do. So eat those excuses and find a way.
Europeans have entirely different attitudes and laws from ours. Most European nations could offer an attractive model for reform in this country. What is needed is an end to discretion and the recognition of autonomy in contracts, with the aim of reducing costs and promoting negotiation in a better spirit. Matrimonial and non-matrimonial property would have to be defined. Premarital assets should be excluded, especially when the parties are older or have been previously married, and so should legacies and gifts. Subject to the existence of an agreement made by the couple to the contrary, the postmarital matrimonial assets could be divided equally, but in the case of a short marriage, say three years or less, there should be no division at all, but the parties should go back to the position they were in before they married. If there are children and the home is too small for sensible division, then it should as now be retained for the occupation of the carer, with eventual sale and division when the children reach 18.
All correct except for the house. If it really is a no-fault divorce or fault can't be found, sell the house and divide the debt or profit equally. Both walk away and start over. Assets earned BEFORE the marriage ARE NOT SUBJECT TO DIVISION AFTER MARRIAGE. Hell-o. Why do I have a right to what someone else did or earned without me? I DON'T. PERIOD. And vice versa. Gender does not count and should not.
The line "but the parties should go back to the position they were in before they married," is critical here. UNLESS THERE IS CAUSE, that's what should happen at all times when divorce occurs. Child expenses can be split. Otherwise, you're on your own. IN MARRIAGE YOU GET MORE - MORE SEX, MORE MONEY, MORE RESOURCES, MORE LOVE, MORE RESPONSIBILITY, MORE PAIN, MORE CHORES, MORE OBLIGATIONS, ETC. Some of those are good, some just make life harder. WELCOME TO LIFE. Its the same for everyone. Outside of marriage you go back to what every single person has. You see less of your kids, keep more of your own money but have less overall and while you'll have more time and less responsibility, you'll probably feel quite empty.
Our so called divorce "laws" are seldom anything but a means of some class of people trying to have their cake and eat it too, typically by bending some quack statistic to a bunch of lawmakers who are on the take. What is a "law" anyway? Its a rule made up to prevent unfair harm, in essence. But all I've seen of laws are ways to inflict unfair harm and enrich special interests.
What of the future of maintenance? Certainly it should cease to be payable if the wife cohabits with another man. Should it be awarded at all? If we had a divorce system based on misconduct, then it would be easy to find a rationale pinned to guilt and innocence, but that is unlikely to be the case ever again. My extreme view, which will never hold sway, is that no maintenance should be payable unless the claimant spouse is unable to work or has the care of young children. The primary aim of maintenance should be rehabilitative; it should be permanent only for older women and the incapacitated who are not cared for by the state. That is the price of easy divorce granted on a theoretical ground of irretrievable breakdown without fault. The government has shirked responsibility for re-examining the law; no Royal Commission, no parliamentary debate. It is time to call for reform, not by judges struggling to cope, but by our legislators.
Just imagine. Unless the kids are VERY young - that is BABIES OR TODDLERS - get off your ass and work and forget getting rich off your ex. Oh no. Women would have to go to college and then get jobs and skills. ....Wait. THEY ALREADY DO THAT. And today they do it even more than men. And yet they collect from men in divorce? TOTALLY NONSENSICAL.
So my wife and I split up I would give her the bulk of my money (tax-free)...... WHY? If I loafed about on my ass during the relationship and she made all the money, she would have to give me large sums of her income because..... WHY?
I work hard to provide a home for me and my son - its not my choice or fault he doesn't live with me. His mother also provides him a home - she uses some of my income to do so, but could afford it had she not quit her job (her choice). So if I one day become rich (hahaha), is it my duty to give her extra money to "support" my son when she refuses to support him herself to her full ability? Conversely if she makes plenty of money and he lives with me and I've decided to be a freelance writer and make quite little, is it her responsibility to ensure I have enough money to provide him with accommodations consistent with someone's definition of his previous "lifestyle?!?!"
If young women have nice handbags its because they probably worked for the money to buy them. If men have nice clothes or cars, its for the same reason. Does one OWE the other the money for these things that create the term "lifestyle" AFTER they divorce? No. Why would they? You get out of marriage what you do WHILE you are married, not before or after. If you received someone's money despite not being married to them that would mean marriage had a beginning but that divorce did not represent its end. That would separate money from marriage and make someone's money accessible to you because you were ONCE married to them. That demeans marriage. How did we even get to a point where you could take someone's money for YEARS AFTER divorcing them? That doesn't make any sense! It came about when women complained (in 1950 I guess) that men could divorce them and leave them with the kids and no money. But women are as educated as men and make as much as men - so that argument doesn't hold true anymore, so....WTF? Our divorce laws allow the non-working partner to use and destroy the working partner for personal gain through divorce. Most people love to see men suffer, so imagine lesbians or gay men - why would the one who makes less money keep 40% of the income of the other every week, every month, for years after divorce? And the house? And the kids? And their retirement? Marriage-come-divorce has become the gateway to Marxism. Why not just divide every asset earned during the marriage 50/50 and split time with the kids evenly and send each person on their merry way to earn whatever money they can? We earn what we earn and keep it when unmarried. Why does a failed marriage turn one person into another's slave? One person into another's "rich" benefactor, whilst not being rich?
The outrageous sums paid by the family "breadwinner" today amount to a king's ransom, in effect a reward for getting divorced, nay, an INCENTIVE to get divorced. My ex literally has the attitude "Well of course I get a lot of money from him (me). We broke up and I have our son!" As if splitting from a man whose child you had somehow automatically entitles you to large sums of his money for life. This is tantamount to declaring I am the one at fault for the dissolution of our relationship when in fact it was she who demonstrably lied, cheated and stole (yes, all three, in spades. If I had split us up, I'd feel much less wronged). I've heard of the same attitudes from the ex-wives and ex-girlfriends of other men - once enriched with his money by the courts - for leaving him or cheating on him - they seek to rationalize their behavior with the outcome.
The fact that mindset exists is MADNESS. Imagine a man who cheated on his wife saying this: "Well of course my ex-wife makes me rich with her money, I have our son!" As if the child justifies support FOR HIM as well as the child for TENS OF YEARS after divorce. For a grown, college-educated man who works?!?! That's silly and irresponsible. In that case there would be 10 million newspaper columnists demanding blood and justice.
Further, like many men, I wasn't even married to my ex. I wanted to get married, but she cheated before I could ask. Then in divorce court, I was treated the same as if I were married! So what is the point of getting married!?!!?!? The law is supposed to PUNISH bad behavior. Not reward it. And yet it is doing EXACTLY that!
This is an edited extract of Ruth Deech's Gresham College lecture.