The Alimony Chronicles, Part 3

The Alimony Chronicles, Part 3

Welcome back to The Alimony Chronicles. We’ve come to the third of four parts. Today we’ll be looking at the impact of spousal support on men, then and now.

So far:

  • Part 1 was about the origins of family law and the different types of alimony in place today.
  • Part 2 tackled the evolution of financial support for women.

Yours, Mine – and All Mine

For much of recorded history, men were recognized as property owners. Not just the primary owners of real-estate, but agricultural produce, water rights, household goods, servants, children – and wives! These same laws also required a man to provide for his wife her entire life, whether he stayed with her or not.

Property laws changed with time. It became possible for women to own property, cash and land.

Unmarried or widowed women were allowed to manage their own assets. But most often a male relative was appointed to oversee a single woman’s holdings. She was a property owner in name only.

Once she married, her new husband assumed total control over his wife’s assets and property. He could dispose of them as he saw fit. It’s a doctrine called coverture. Coverture sounds crazy today. But it actually carried over into United States law, affecting alimony awards through the early 70’s.

Dollars and Cents

Property, family, and employment laws changed rapidly over the last 40 years. No-fault divorce laws were enacted throughout the country. And women entered the workforce in record numbers.

Data obtained from the 2012 census shows there were 82.9 million men and 74.8 million women in the workforce. Nearly half of all workers are women.

Today’s women contribute more to the household than ever before. They’re quickly becoming sole earners, too.

What It Means for Men

Permanent alimony (where spousal support is paid until either partner dies or the wife remarries) is no longer a slam-dunk for the wife. Today’s court-ordered support is more often rehabilitative or a  lump-sum – and listen up guys – it doesn’t always get paid by the husband!

Alimony for the Husband

The old saying, “Sauce for the goose is good for the gander” is certainly true when it comes to spousal support. Factors influencing family law judges of the past no longer apply only to women.

When Men Should Get  Spousal Support

If the marriage lasted less than a couple years, unless there are very extenuating circumstances, spousal support is not likely to be awarded to either side.

Generally, the longer the marriage, the better the chances that a judge will, at least, consider other factors that may warrant awarding alimony.

Income Disparity

Income disparity has always been a bonafide reason for spousal support. It’s a prime example of why support payments are not just ordered to be paid by men anymore.

A wife who has a much larger income that her husband, especially if he has sacrificed employment or promotional opportunities to support her education or career during the marriage, may be ordered to pay alimony.

Standard of Living

While both husband and wife may be employed, the husband may have spent years working a relatively low-paying job while the wife’s income allowed the couple to enjoy a much more expensive lifestyle.

A celebrity example was the marriage of successful actress Kim Basinger and makeup artist Ron Britton. Kim’s career and income skyrocketed during the eight-year marriage. When they divorced, Ron reportedly received $12,000 a month in spousal support for an unspecified period of time. Celebrity marriages aside, judges will consider the all the circumstances.

It would be a radical change for the husband to end up leaving a well-appointed home with amenities to move into a relative’s basement! In situations like this, the husband may be awarded a lump-sum settlement and/or a term of monthly payments to level the playing field and help him get established.

Stay-at-Home Dads

There are more stay-at-home dads than ever before. Some men are just better suited to handle the challenges of child-rearing than their wives. And some women are perfectly happy bringing home the bacon.

In many families, either parent would be enthusiastic to be the at-home caregiver, but the wife has better employment opportunities or benefits so it makes financial sense for the dad to be home while she works.

Sometimes the at-home parent decision was influenced by the economy. After the 2008-crash, the housing and construction industry tanked. In harder hit areas, it was all men putting kids on the school bus every day, because the mothers were the only ones still employed.

Assuming the wife makes enough money for an award to be feasible, a man who has been an at-home parent is a good candidate for spousal support for a period of time to enable him to update his skills and secure suitable employment.

Feasible is a key word here, because a judge will not award alimony for either side if it there is simply not enough money to go around, especially if child support will need to be provided.

Do The Math

As you can see, the factors for a family law judge to consider when awarding alimony are not gender-specific anymore.  Financial support is not awarded to punish one spouse or reward the other.

When it’s awarded, spousal support is determined based on the financial circumstances of the divorcing couple.

Today, the majority of married women are working. It is no longer unusual for the wife to be the primary wage-earner in the marital home. There are certainly more spousal support awards to men than a generation ago. But the frequency remains a small fraction of alimony awards overall.

Why aren’t more men seeking spousal support?

If the husband is the bigger breadwinner during the marriage, additional support for him may be out of the question. However, keep in mind that if the husband has full or primary custody of the couple’s children, the wife may still be ordered contribute to the children’s maintenance by way of child support.

Some men may still have the mistaken notion that financial support is only awarded to wives.

Some men may still have the mistaken notion that financial support is only awarded to wives. They just want to keep their head down and get the whole divorce thing over with as quickly as possible. They sign a no-fault settlement agreement provided by her side and consider themselves lucky they didn’t get nailed making monthly payments to her.

Male pride is a powerful factor preventing men from seeking alimony. In the privacy of the marital home, all things seemed pretty equal even if the wife has a much larger income.

Outside of the home is a different story. The idea of going into court and being described as the “dependent spouse” can feel emasculating, especially if the soon-to-be ex-wife already has a tendency to be insulting.

Hire a financial advisor who specializes in divorces to conduct a thorough financial analysis before entirely rejecting the idea of alimony. It may shed a new light on the subject!

Financial decisions in divorce negotiations, including discussions about spousal support, should be based on facts and sound legal advice.

And That’s Not All

Stay tuned for the last chapter in our series. We’ll look at the nuts and bolts of alimony and how it affects both parties. Don’t miss it.

 

Do you know any men who deserve spousal support?

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The Alimony Chronicles, Part 2

The Alimony Chronicles, Part 2

Welcome back to The Alimony Chronicles! In this second part of a four-part series, we will be looking at spousal support from the woman’s perspective, past and present.

Once Upon A Time

In Part 1 we looked at the ancient origins of alimony. We peered into the evolution of family law in Europe and the United States. Back in the day, a married woman had no rights to income or property. She was not allowed to sign contracts or own property of her own. She was regarded as no more than property in some societies.

There were no actual divorces in ancient times. But there were provisions in place allowing men to “put away” a wife and live separately from her. Women who had been “put away” had no rights or power. Husbands had all the rights and privileges in a marriage. Responsibilities of providing for the family (regardless of living arrangements) fell on their shoulders exclusively. For women, it was a matter of survival.

Family law changed dramatically in just the last few decades. Not long ago, most married women stopped working after marriage, and certainly after children were born.

Women Relied Entirely on Husbands

Alimony and child support for your mother or grandmother’s generation was still a matter of survival. Most women lacked prospects and could not reach financial independence. Not until 1974 could a woman apply for credit without a man co-signing for her. Without that, she couldn’t own a car or buy a home.

Married women seeking employment were limited in the types of work available and were paid lower wages than men. Prospective employers asked questions about a woman’s pregnancy status and family plans. Up until the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, pregnancy was a legal and valid reason to fire female employees.

So yeah, most men getting divorced in those days could expect to pay out the nose, potentially for the life of the wife unless she re-married. Alimony was inevitable – like death and taxes. So, of course, spousal support in popular culture was an easy target for late-night talk show jokes and movie parodies.

No Fault Divorce Was a Game Changer

Jokes about gold-digger women aside, family laws began changing as the idea of “no-fault” divorce was introduced. It allowed a husband or wife to file for divorce without having to prove the other spouse had committed a serious act harmful to the marriage.

From a woman’s point of view, there were good and bad things about no-fault divorce. One side argued that women needed to be able to get out of abusive marriages without having to go through the trauma of challenging the abuser. The other side argued that no-fault divorce was bad for women because if the husband was at fault for the failed marriage, he could file for divorce and walk away scot-free, without having to pay alimony.

Between the mid-1970’s and mid-1980’s most states approved some form of “no-fault” divorce.

There was a surge in divorces, but as argued by the opponents of no-fault divorce, support was no longer automatically awarded to the wife.

Thanks to the changes in family and employment law, we say many more wives entering the workplace in the 80’s. They had their own income and financial independence. In the years following, permanent alimony and extravagant awards to the wife were less and less common.

Of Course, There Were Exceptions

Unlike wives of prior generations who had no real opportunities to work outside the home, today’s women are better educated and more likely to be gainfully employed.

Alimony is no longer a guaranteed award in favor of the wife. No longer held back in the professional realm, women can be as successful as men.

That doesn’t mean that an angry wife with a smart attorney won’t pull out all the stops to get as much alimony as possible – especially if the husband was unfaithful. Remember that thing about a woman scorned? Some things haven’t changed!

Permanent financial support may be awarded to a wife who is unable to work due to chronic mental or physical illness. But permanent support is very unlikely to be awarded to a wife capable of working outside the home.

A stay-at-home mother can seek alimony for as long as it would reasonably take to update her skills and find a job. But those payments will end eventually.

A Memorable Alimony Settlement: Trump v. Trump

Who can forget the Trump-divorce-fueled media frenzy in the early 90’s? The real estate tycoon Donald Trump, and his then-wife, Ivana Trump, raged on in court fighting for an agreeable divorce settlement.

Ivana walked away with a mind-blowing settlement that reportedly included:

  • A $10 million lump sum payment,
  • A $50,000 per month housing allowance,
  • $350,000 per month in alimony payments, and
  • Other benefits and properties.

Ivana had a cameo role in the 1996 movie, First Wives Club, as a direct result of the extensive media coverage. Her only line in the film became her iconic slogan, “Remember girls, don’t get mad. Get everything!

None of it came without strings attached, though. The divorce settlement included a “gag” order. In it, the former Mrs. Trump agreed not to publicly discuss her marriage to The Donald. In exchange, she’d receive a multi-million dollar lump-sum payment. Breaking the “gag” order could cost her alimony and a housing allowance!

She Can Bring Home the Bacon

These days, it is not uncommon for a wife to earn more money than her husband. When there are young children at home, it may be the dad who is the stay-at-home parent!

Under our modern family laws, alimony is not as common as it used to be. But when spousal support is ordered, the wife could be the wage-earner expected to pay some form of financial support to her husband!

And guess what, guys? There are more and more women in this generation that find the idea of receiving support payments offensive. They’ll refuse it even if they live in an alimony-friendly state that allows for more lenient awards for spousal support.

Women who pride themselves on being independent and successful may choose not to seek support for themselves, even if they pursue child support. These women say they want to be able to show the world they can take care of themselves.

Sometimes it is just a matter of the woman looking to end any connection with the man once the divorce is final, regardless of her financial situation.

More to Come

Up next in our series, we will explore the how’s and why’s of alimony from the husband’s viewpoint, and our last chapter in the series will look at the nuts and bolts of spousal support and how it affects both parties. Stay tuned!

Know anyone still supporting the ex-wife?

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The Alimony Chronicles, Part 1

The Alimony Chronicles, Part 1

Welcome to the Alimony Chronicles. This is the first of a four-part series on the history of spousal support, changes over the years, what you can expect today, and most importantly, how it ain’t what it used to be.

Name That Pain

Alimony, as technically defined, is the legal obligation of one spouse to provide financial support to the other during a separation or after a divorce. It’s different from child support, although both spousal and child support payments may be ordered by the court simultaneously.

How It All Began

Contrary to what popular belief may be, it wasn’t somebody’s ticked off wife (or even her mother) who came up with the idea of alimony.

Some of the earliest examples of family law come from ancient Babylon and were discovered carved into a stone slab from 1754 BC when King Hammurabi decreed that if a man wanted to leave a wife who had borne him children, he had to continue to give her a portion of his income, crops and property while she raised them.

Once their kids were grown, he had to provide her a final settlement that was equal to the value of one son.

There were rules for the woman, too. The wife was bound by the law that only after her children were grown was she allowed to “marry the man of her heart”.

Fast Forward Several Thousand Years to English Law

Many old English laws grew from the Code of Hammurabi. The US was formed and its founders brought with them their legal code. In short, a lot of our laws hatched from that ancient text.

One of which was this:

  • A man had a duty to support his wife until the marriage ended.
  • He could leave his wife, but had to continue by law to provide her with financial support.
  • Because marriage did not end until death, those payments had to continue until one of them died.

American Alimony

Actual divorce was allowed by the 19th century but only in cases of serious wrong-doing, like infidelity.

The rules started changing to protect women from situations where the husband had done something terrible and left her in the lurch after the marriage ended. On the other hand, if the wife’s behavior caused the divorce, she gave up the right to ask for money from the husband.

In the United States, as the country’s economy prospered (and men had much bigger paychecks), it was more and more common for women to receive permanent alimony after a divorce. It was especially true if the woman was a stay-at-home wife and mother.

This is the kind of spousal support often depicted in books and movies.

No-Fault Divorce

As women became more self-sufficient and became employed outside the home, family law shifted. Women’s lib brought about an era of wives with jobs, separate income streams, and the no-fault divorce. Judges automatically ordering alimony was no longer an ordinary practice.

Today, almost all 50 states have crafted laws granting some option for a no-fault divorce. Meaning that a quickie divorce can be granted if both the husband and wife agree that they no longer get along and have been living apart for a certain period of time.

Despite the option for an easy way out of an uncomfortable marriage, there are still divorces today based on “fault”. And although it doesn’t always factor into the equation, payments to the ex can be awarded in divorces despite fault.

Types of Alimony: It’s Not Just for Women Anymore

Several types were created to accommodate various types of situations. Here are a few.

  • Temporary

Temporary alimony is court-ordered support payments to be paid before the divorce is finalized and while the couple is separated.

  • Permanent

Permanent support is paid by the former spouse who earned higher income during the marriage. It is paid until one of them dies or the recipient remarries or cohabitates with someone new.

  • Short-Term

In this scenario, the higher-earning former spouse pays the lower-earning one for a predetermined period of time in order to allow him or her to get a job or complete an educational or training program.

  • Reimbursement

Reimbursement alimony is money ordered to be paid back to the other spouse for expenses incurred during their marriage (like educational expenses).

For example, if the husband worked to support them both while the wife went to medical school, he may be awarded some reimbursement for his efforts that led to her success.

  • Lump-Sum

Lump-sum alimony is a form of marriage settlement where one spouse pays the other a one-time payment rather than periodic support payments or instead of dividing property the couple may have gotten during the marriage.

Each State Differs on Spousal Support

Alimony is dealt with differently in each state.

Some judges use complex formulas under statutory laws. Thus giving each side an idea of what that would look like going into a divorce proceeding.

Statutes in a few states are “silent,” with no specific rules set on spousal support. Leaving it entirely to the judge’s discretion can lead to a slug-fest in court. Both sides work hard to influence the decision.

In no-fault proceedings, monetary awards or property division decisions aren’t influenced by the couple’s marital behavior.

However, in a few places (even in no-fault proceedings), if your wife is already shacked up with her boyfriend she can kiss the idea of alimony goodbye, and vice-versa!

Other Factors

You may already know the more common factors affecting spousal support rulings by the court, such as:

  • The age of the couple
  • Length of the marriage

Very young people and those married less than two years are not typically awarded alimony. Granted, there are exceptions.

Marriages of ten years or more are much more likely to involve some form of support upon divorcing. Some states count the beginning of the separation as the end of the marriage, but some states do not recognize separation at all.

Judges think highly of one’s standard of living. They will order spousal support to help the couple avoid a dramatic, post-divorce reduction in lifestyle. Income disparities between partners get looked at closely in an aim to help both partners continue the same standard of living they enjoyed together.

Alimony may be awarded if one of the spouses is expected to have a significant increase in future income, like the earlier example of a doctor whose spouse put him through medical school and who will likely command a large increase in salary when his practice is established.

The state of each person’s health is another factor. If the husband or wife is mentally or physically ill and may not be able to work, the court will not want to leave that person destitute.

Yours, Mine and Ours

As our series continues, we will explore the how’s and why’s of spousal support from the wife’s viewpoint, the husband’s viewpoint, and then look at the nuts and bolts of alimony and how it affects both parties.

 

Learn something new? Share this article on your social media.


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What Men Need to Know About Alimony and Taxes

What Men Need to Know About Alimony and Taxes

When it comes to alimony and taxes, the IRS shows no mercy.  You need to know what they are looking for to avoid costly mistakes with your annual filing.

A 2014 report from the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) identified a $2.3 billion gap between the amount of alimony deductions claimed by taxpayers on returns and the corresponding income reported.

The IRS has made closing the alimony tax gap a priority in recent years. Many taxpayers have been audited or have gone to court over alimony deductions that were disallowed by the IRS.

What Is (and Isn’t) Alimony

It sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? But much of the alimony tax gap is due to confusion over what exactly the IRS considers alimony.

Alimony payments are deductible by the payor and taxable income for the recipient, but the definition of alimony for federal tax purposes is governed by the Internal Revenue Code, not by divorce decrees or court orders.

In order to be considered alimony for federal tax purposes, there are several requirements that must be met:

  • You cannot file a joint return with your former spouse and cannot be members of the same household when you make the payment or payments
  • Payments must be in cash (including checks and money orders)
  • The payment is received by (or on behalf of) your spouse or former spouse
  • Your divorce decree or separate maintenance agreement does not say the payment is not alimony
  • You have no obligation to make payments (in cash or property) after the death of your former spouse
  • Your payment is not treated as child support or as a property settlement

Payments for child support, property settlements, payments of community property income, and voluntary payments that are not required by the divorce agreement are never considered alimony and not deductible.

There are a few areas pertaining to alimony and taxes where taxpayers tend to get tripped up.

Unallocated Alimony/Child Support Payments

In a 2015 Tax Court Case, a doctor lost his alimony deduction because the divorce agreement did not allocate the amount the doctor was required to pay to his ex-wife between child support and alimony.

The divorce agreement provided that Dr. Donald Girard would “continue to tender unallocated alimony/child support in the monthly sum of $5,232 for a continued eight-year period with the provision as long as the former Mrs. Girard should not remarry or cohabitate.” The agreement was silent as to whether the payments would continue if either party died before the eight years elapsed.

Dr. Girard deducted the payments on his own return, but his ex-wife did not report the payments as income. When the IRS sent her a notice of deficiency, she fought their assessment and the Tax Court found in her favor since the agreement did not allocate what portion of the payments went to child support and what went to alimony. And they did not specify that the payments would cease at death.

Property Transfer Ruling on Alimony and Taxes

In 2015, the Tax Court ruled on a case where one former spouse tried to pay alimony with real estate.

In 2010, Christina Mehriarty and Bradley Williams agreed to a divorce settlement that called for Mehriarty to pay alimony to Williams of $4,000 per month for 60 months. Nearly a year after their divorce was finalized, Mehriarty offered to sign a quitclaim deed to transfer a piece of property to Williams in lieu of the $80,000 left in alimony. Williams agreed.

Mehriarty tried to claim an investment loss of $80,000 on her 2011 income tax return. When that deduction was challenged by the IRS, Mehriarty attempted to argue that the property transfer was a deductible alimony payment.

One of the first requirements for alimony in the tax code is that payments be made in cash or a cash equivalent. The tax court ruled that the property transfer was not alimony.

Paying Less Than The Total Required

If your divorce agreement calls for both alimony and child support and you pay less than the total required, your payments will be applied first to child support.

Any remaining amount will be considered alimony.

Joseph Becker and his wife Jennifer divorced in 2011. Becker was ordered to pay temporary child support of $801 per month and temporary alimony of $815 per month for the 10 months prior to their divorce. He was also ordered to pay child support of $540 per month and alimony of $500 per month, along with paying for his children’s health insurance, after the divorce was granted.

In 2011, Becker owed $8,205 for alimony and $8,307 for child support, for a combined total of $16,612. That year, he made payments totaling $9,688.

When Becker filed his 2011 tax return, he claimed an alimony deduction of $12,036, which the IRS disallowed.

Although Becker tried to argue that he allocated his 2011 payments between child support and alimony, the Internal Revenue Code is clear.

When it comes to alimony and taxes, the IRS  rules that payments that total less than the amounts specified in the divorce instrument will be allocated first to child support. Amounts will only be allocated to alimony once child support has been paid in full.

Third Party Payments

There is some good news when it comes to your taxes and alimony.

Payments made to a third party on behalf of your ex for housing costs, medical expenses, taxes, tuition, etc. may qualify as alimony.

Whether housing costs can be considered alimony depends on the ownership of the home.

  • If the home is owned by your ex but you pay the mortgage, real estate taxes, insurance premiums and other costs, you can deduct the payments as alimony. Your ex-spouse will have to claim those amounts as income and will be entitled to a tax deduction for the mortgage interest and real estate taxes, even though you actually paid those expenses.
  • If you own the home and pay the mortgage, real estate taxes, and other expenses while your ex-spouse lives in the home, you cannot deduct the payments as alimony and your ex-spouse doesn’t have to report the payments as income, even if she lives there rent free.
  • If the home is owned jointly as tenants in common, you can deduct half of the mortgage payments, real estate taxes, and property insurance you pay as alimony and your ex-spouse must report that amount as income.

You and your former spouse can deduct half of the real estate taxes and mortgage interest paid as itemized deductions. However, if you own the home jointly as tenants by entirety or joint tenants, none of your payments for taxes or insurance are alimony. You can claim all of the real estate taxes as an itemized deduction.

Exes often get in trouble by verbally agreeing that one spouse will pay expenses on the other’s behalf in lieu of alimony payments. For instance, you might offer to pay a medical bill for your ex and reduce your alimony for the month by the same amount.

While this is legally acceptable, those payments are easily forgotten at year end.

If you want to make that type of arrangement, it’s a good idea to get the agreement in writing so both spouses agree to recognize the payment as alimony for tax purposes at year-end.

The Last Word

With all of the intricacies of alimony and federal tax laws, it’s a good idea to get your tax preparer to weigh in during divorce agreement negotiations.

Your attorney may not be familiar with the tax implications of the specific wording in the divorce agreement. Remember that the way alimony is treated for federal tax purposes is ruled by the Internal Revenue Code, not your divorce agreement.

Getting professional tax advice early will save time and money in the long run.

 

It’s tax time. Share this article on your social media.


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On the Origin of Alimony

On the Origin of Alimony

On the Origin of Alimony

A Modern Opinion on an Antiquated Practice

Groucho Marx once said, “Paying alimony is like feeding hay to a dead horse.” Ironically, that works when you think of the word alimony. The word itself comes from the Latin words ‘Alere’ and ‘ment’ – ‘Alere’ means ‘nourish’, while ‘-ment’ forms the word “mony” or money.

In essence, alimony refers to the act of eating money. If you are not fond of your ex, I cannot think of a more apt expression than the one Marx uttered close to 100 years ago. Plus, he would know. He married 3 times. A master at feeding money to women! However, it is also interesting to understand the origins of alimony in the US.

Origins of Alimony

Divorce is one of the oldest traditions in our society. Well, after marriage that is. Not surprisingly, the first laws regarding alimony were developed early. The earliest mention of alimony is in the Code of Hammurabi. Married women who bore children for a man were permitted access to fields, garden, and property. This gives a new meaning to the phrase ‘plowed over’.

The Romans had some crazy alimony laws. For example, a man could divorce his wife if he learned that she was part or aware of a plot against the government, but did not tell him about it. If she bathed with strangers or went to the circus or theater against his wishes she could be finished with. Finally, he even got to put a few more coins in his toga if he caught her cheating. He would get all the pre-nuptial gifts, the dowry, and 1/3 of any property she possessed. On a more disturbing front, he was allowed to kill her if he caught her in the middle of adultery.

While they did have some of the first rules which stated that divorced women must be kept in reasonable style, it was not until ecclesial England that the modern alimony laws came into shape. The reason it came about was that back in merry OLDE ENGLAND, divorce was not legalized until 1857. Until then, they could only get a legal separation. Since married women could not own property, their husbands were legally responsible for supporting them.

Across the pond, the legal code of the United States adopted many of these concepts. That is why it is also called spousal support. Additionally, the original idea was that spousal support was intended to repair the emotional pain caused by the offending spouse. Since all original divorces were at-fault affairs, this is very important.

Spousal support enables a justice system to place blame and support of the divorce on one side. It’s sort of like blaming the dog for not being walked, because you had bills to pay. It just doesn’t make sense. Rodney Dangerfield put it best, “When I got divorced, it was group sex. My wife screwed me in front of the jury.”

Consider the case of a New York man who divorced a woman he married in 1966. In 2009, the woman – who had been receiving a lifetime supply of $100 checks from her ex – requested an additional $100,000 from him. This was due to the numerous physical and mental handicaps she suffered.

While the story was sad, it is a reminder that back in the 1960’s there was no such thing as a no-fault divorce. Instead, one party was responsible for the divorce. In this case, a man paid over $45,600 to a woman he had no association with in over 35 years after his divorce. The woman wanted him to be responsible for her troubles. The judge disagreed, and sanity returned to the land. However, the man had to pay additional money for the lawyer and court costs. It’s a sad reminder of how alimony has become the cherry on top of the divorce mud pie.

On the Origin of Alimony with website-right sizeThe evolution of women’s rights and the end of alimony.

Women today are equal in law and spirit. Yet, only 3% of women provide spousal support to their exes. I completely believe in equality. What seems equal to you about this number?

Before diving into this argument, I need to backtrack for a second. I know that it is not completely possible to have equality when a number of women spent decades raising kids instead of working. They deserve alimony, but not so for childless, short-term marriages.

Women are no longer property or restricted from owning property. Furthermore, numerous women have attained positions of great regard in today’s society. They are no longer the weaker sex envisioned in England when divorce was legalized.

I would argue that men today have less than a few qualms about working under women bosses. Heck, if you were married before, you already had one female boss. What difference does it make if the setting is professional or private?

Furthermore, women comprise as much of the job market as men. Why should a woman get a divorce-bonus when they have a degree and full-time job? It is just unnatural that we continue to believe in a system that not only tears couples apart but also requires one side to be financially responsible for the entire incident.

Unnatural Selection

Which brings up another point. In nature, pair bonds happen that genetically bring together many monogamous couples.

Alimony only occurs as a result of divorce and is, therefore, the disruption of this biological process. If Darwin discovered the theory of evolution, should we credit gold diggers with the theory of unnatural selection?

In a society devoted to helping people move on after PTSD and many other emotional incidents, the time frames attached to alimony payments for some couples are shocking.

If we are to believe in the Constitution of the United States, then this would be cruel and unusual punishment. According to the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, “…cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted.” Justice William Brennan partially defined this with the phrase that the punishment must not “…be degrading to human dignity.”

Lifetime alimony falls under that definition. Forcing men to live a lesser life or invading the privacy of those in their household (Oregon permits financial reviews of girlfriends, etc.) seems like a “severe punishment that is obviously inflicted in wholly arbitrary fashion.”

How The Origins of Alimony Lead To…

Speaking of psychological scares, let’s talk about how some of these original alimony laws lead to the following:

  • Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi must pay a whopping $4 million per month in alimony payments.
  • In comparison, actor Charlie Sheen gets off easy. He only pays $1.3 million per year to two different women he has kids with.

Final Thoughts

Robin Williams jokingly mentioned how the divorce judge said, “All the money, and we’ll just shorten it to ‘alimony.’” As a veteran of comedy and divorce, he understood the implicit imbalances of the system.

Alimony comes from a time when men and women were according to the law to separate, unequal entities. The history of the United States has been one that has yielded to the women’s liberation movement and has changed with the times.

In Merry Olde England, women did not have the right to own property, divorce, or be in charge of their future. Today, women are an active part of the workforce. They have the same legal rights as men and the same access to education and jobs.

While some inequalities in income still exist, a system where 30-50% of a man’s income automatically goes to his wife for lengthy periods of time is not beneficial.

‘Tis time for a change! Let us know in the comments your favorite reason why it is time to update the alimony laws in this fair nation of ours.

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