Gender Equality and Alimony Can’t Logically Co-Exist
Lets Talk About It
I write this, mainly because the topic of alimony got brought up during a conversation between an older woman I’m friends with and the discussion got so heated so quickly, we decided to change the subject.
That’s not how these conversations should go, though they often do. Significant change, in anything really, requires conversation. Changes within our society as a whole — ones that actually matter — start with awkward and tough conversations. Ones we’d probably rather not have but need to if we expect any real change to take place.
This article will require me to say things, some people will disagree with and would rather not hear. If I lose a follower or two for speaking open and honestly, so be it.
I’m all for equality, not just for women but across the board. No group or individual in this country should ever be marginalized. If you do the same job as me, just as well as I do it, you deserve to make as much money as I do. Paying a woman less, simply because she’s a woman, is wrong.
I think a lot of the statistics on the gender pay gap are taken out of context. I’m not claiming no woman was ever paid less than a man to do the same job, I’m saying I think people use those statistics incorrectly, to try and prove their point.
For example, in my research for this article, I came across the statement “71% of women reported they make less than their husbands or significant other”. That statistic is completely obsolete and inadmissible in any gender pay gap conversation. Simply because, we have no idea what each partner does for a living.
To further debunk such a manipulative statistic that was clearly conjured up for propaganda, who was even surveyed? Statistics like this are laid out in a way, to make you believe 71% of the women in this country make less than their husbands — and that’s just not the case. Even if it was — again — my bet would be a large portion of that pay gap is based off what the two individuals do for a living, as opposed to their genders.
There was a time here in America, when men were expected to go out and work and women to stay home, take care of the house and raise kids. Thankfully much has changed in this country since then. While some couples still believe in a relationship where traditional roles are respected, most don’t.
Not only do most women I know with or without kids work, I know plenty of women who make more than the man they are in a relationship with. Yet somehow I feel, it comes down to the occupations they chose and not their genders.
In fact, an article I found written by John Griffith for www.divorcemag.com in 2016 claims 40% of the 1,600 members surveyed at The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, claim a woman makes the most money in their household.
A 2010 Census report states 380,000 women in the United States collect alimony or spousal support. 12,000 men receive it from their former spouses as well, with many more being eligible but never pursuing it.
For anyone unfamiliar how a judge typically decides what a spousal support payment will be, allow me to explain. They take the claimants proof of “total rock bottom needs”, meaning housing costs and any money they spend on necessities on an average month, they then deduct any child support payments they’re already receiving, thus getting them to the number they will award the claimant every month. Consider the example below.
Example: Here’s how the math works out in a typical alimony case. Imagine that a husband who files for divorce earns $5,000 a month. His wife stays at home with three young children and earns no income. Under their state’s formula, she’s entitled to $1,650 child support per month. But say she convinces the judge that her total rock bottom needs, including a house payment, are $2,300. If the judge is convinced her budget is solid and that her husband can afford it, she would be awarded $650 in spousal support: $2,300 minus $1,650.
Example provided by www.divorcenet.com
For anyone not following, the claimants every essential financial need is taken care of by their former spouse. I mentioned the payment is calculated by taking the cost of the claimants bare essential needs and deducting the amount they’re receiving in child support, if any. Well for those couples without children, there is no deduction — their cost of living is just someone else’s burden. As if the claimant is a child, who is unable to take care of themselves. What about that says equality?
It could easily be argued the person who is receiving the alimony or spousal support, is stifling their own potential by depending on their former partner for their every financial need. The way a judge calculates what a spousal support payment is based off the claimants bare essential needs. They receive a payment for that amount, therefore never reaching their own financial ceiling or making what they were truly capable of.
I was born in 1987, so forgive me if you find my stance on the issue offensive but the thought that a woman is somehow entitled to half a mans assets after they get divorced, is completely absurd to me. Granted, if a woman spent the better part of her life raising your kids and taking care of the house, some sort of financial arrangement is probably only fair. But for a woman to be awarded 50% of what a man has acquired through a lifetime — or vice versa — is insane to me.
Though, don’t worry. Your average divorce court judge never intentionally leaves anyone paying alimony with less than 40% of their total income.
My, how thoughtful of them to let one keep less than half of what they earn.
First off, let’s talk about those traditional roles. If a man and woman have a kid and buy a home together — and only have one kid — nothing is stopping that woman from going and getting a job within a year of having that child. This idea that women somehow sacrificed their entire career, to have a kid, is completely made up. And dare I say, made up by women who don’t want to work but yet want to turn a divorce into a payday.
Let it be understood, my qualms are with alimony, not child support. A man should not be required by the courts to financially support his children, they should want to — but unfortunately, too often that’s not the case — thus, child support laws.
If a husband and wife agree upon a relationship with traditional gender roles, then by all means, do you. I even understand the women who say they want to spend those formative years with their child, or that they don’t want a babysitter or daycare raising their kids. However, once that child starts school, there’s no legitimate reason why a woman can’t — nor shouldn’t — go get a job.
As I said, I’m all for equality in every aspect. But when I say that, I mean exactly that — every aspect. If a woman expects to be paid the same as a man, there should be no part of the job that’s designated for the men she works with. Simply put, if we’re equals, which I truly believe to be the case — then why on earth would a woman ever be entitled to half of a man’s assets or more after they get divorced?
There’s this saying you often hear spoken during alimony negotiations, that has always troubled me. The whole “in order to maintain a lifestyle she’s become accustomed to” argument. If that lifestyle she had become accustomed to, was solely provided by a man, when her and that man get divorced — she’s also divorcing that lifestyle she was accustomed to.
I just don’t understand how certain groups can claim to allegedly be all for equality across the board, until equality becomes inconvenient. If we want equality, we don’t get to pick and choose where we implement it. That’s not equality. That’s customizing where you want women to be equals with men at and where you don’t. Equality when it’s convenient, is not equality.
To properly put into context just how out of date the law in question is, alimony dates back to the time of Roman law. In fact, ancient Babylonian code stated if a man and woman divorced, in addition to awarding his ex wife custody of the children, the man was required to “return the dowry”. For the record, I don’t even know what that fucking means, because I wasn’t raised in 1700 BC. Also, if a woman broke any of her vowels or traditions, her husband could potentially relegate her to slavery. Are these really the people we want our laws passed down from?
Like I said, I mainly wrote this as a way of finishing a conversation I wasn’t given a chance to earlier. It is my belief that the traditional gender roles we once took on are slowly but surely fading out and alimony laws should reflect such. There’s nothing equal to a woman being awarded half of what a man has worked his entire life for, there’s simply no other way to put it.