Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Reality of Lifetime Divorce

One thing I have heard over and over from people who have gone through an unjust divorce is that they thought they were the only one. I have felt this way many times. It just seems so impossible that what I experienced could be anything other than a fluke. After all, how can society be so unfair? How can Family Court reward the bad and punish the good? How can it so callously destroy children's lives?  It is almost a coping strategy to think that what happens to you is not what normally happens. But it does. Take a look at this video:

Unfortunately that same denial of reality is what keeps legislators, law enforcement, good lawyers and ethical judges from addressing the problem. They just do not believe the problem it exists other than as a rare misfortune.  They believe the system works and no changes are needed. They are wrong.

The reality is that injustices in divorce affects many people Just in Minnesota it causes the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars from the law abiding to the criminal. It costs millions in lost tax revenue. It destroys lives. It harms children. It teaches hundreds of thousands if not millions of people that the legal system is fundamentally unjust. And it is destroying the institution of marriage. I could go on and on.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Be Careful What You Wish For

I don't really talk much about my divorce, especially at work, but little by little I have become less reluctant to do so.  Given that most people at work know the girl I have been dating for the last five years it isn't really a secret that I am divorced, but the reality of situation isn't something I go into detail on much.

Maybe it was the horrible incident in Orlando that caused me open up or maybe it was just the moment but I was having a conversation with a person, who happens to be gay, at work whom I have know, and consider a friend, for decades.  He mentioned something about retirement and I made a comment about that the fact that it is pretty much illegal for me to ever retire. That opened it all up and in a matter of minutes I told him about the curse of lifetime alimony that I am under and the fact that not only retirement but remarriage is, for all practical purposes impossible for me.  Ever.

The topic changed to same-sex marriage and I told him that when the whole issue came up a few years back came up I was conflicted. I don't believe the government has any business regulating who can marry who but under current law, at least in Minnesota, it opens up a whole new segment of the population to the horrible injustices that occur in Family Count.  It is analogous to giving women the right to be drafted and fight in combat - during the height of the Vietnam War.

Equal rights are good. But you have to be careful what you wish for. Yet hope springs eternal (it has to for me or I could never survive) so maybe, just maybe, as same-sex people start getting divorced some of more heinous aspects of family law will change and change for the better. Same-sex marriage went from an impossibility to reality in just a few years. Maybe the most unjust aspects of alimony can eliminated before too long as well.  I hope so.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


I have been thinking about entitlement lately. There is an old joke that there are two types of people in the world - those who believe there are two types of people and those who don't.  I am more of a spectrum type person philosophically. For example, people aren't either good or bad, everyone is a bit of both but there are those who are more toward the totally good end whereas others are closer to the opposite end.

This is true with entitlement as well but in my mind there is a cleaner dividing line in the middle. If you believe life is about doing good for others then you are the non-entitled side. If you think the world owes, you are are on the entitled side.

I recently heard a couple stories on the radio about young graduates. One was about a woman who graduated from a fairly prestigious public university over a year ago but was still living with her parents. She was working part-time as a waitress because that was all she could find. She thought the school should reimburse her the cost of tuition. I am sorry but anyone of reasonable intelligence who says they can't find full time work today just isn't trying. Maybe she wasn't able to get the nice cushy six figure 30 hour a week she had hoped to land with her history major but she has no one to blame but herself for that. I put her pretty high on the entitlement quotient.

Contrast that with another story I heard about a woman who had just received her PhD in a hard science.  She was an undocumented immigrant who came to the country as an infant with her parents. She never had any help with school, financially or otherwise. She wasn't even able to apply for most scholarships given her undocumented status. She made it by working hard. And the kicker is that she wanted to make her parents proud for all they had done for her. She felt lucky. She is rather low on the entitlement quotient I would say.

People such as Spring who not only believe that world exists to take care of them but even when they have everything they could possibly want commit the most heinous crimes to get even more have about as high an entitlement quotient as there is.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Alimony In Florida

Ayo and Iken has an interesting discussion on how alimony works, or doesn't, in Florida.

I would like to see the permanent alimony disappear. I think there are only select situations where it should actually happen. I feel like it is being misused and it’s not the intent of the original law. I see situations where, it’s mainly men, are paying permanent alimony to a woman who at the time did raise the children, wasn’t able to earn, but has now chosen to only work part-time and kind of hangout and do their thing while the ex-husband is continuing to work to try to meet that alimony obligation. I just don’t think it’s fair and equitable. Something needs to change. I don’t know how to fix it, but I’m not happy with the current state of the law.
-- Kristal Knox 

In Minnesota, I pay permanent alimony to a person who divorced me, was not the primary caregiver of the children according to the custody evaluator and who can make just as much money as me according to the employment evaluator.

The family court system is far, far more dysfunctional and unjust than people realize.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Ohio Alimony Reform

Ohio Alimony Reform (O.A.R.)  is is yet another state organization hoping to reform the most severe injustices of current alimony laws and rulings. Like many such organizations it takes its inspiration from the successful Massachusetts Alimony Reform effort.

O.A.R.'s goal are pretty straightforward:  

  1. Preserve the Viability and Logic of Legal Marriage.
  2. Promote Family Peace and Well Being Following Divorce, via Fairness.
  3. Establish Consistent, Predictable, and Reasonable Alimony Amounts and Duration.
  4. Enable Parties to Remain Whole after a Divorce;  Able to Rebuild, Have Hope, and Eventually Retire.
  5. Outline and Weight the Factors that are Fair, Feasible, Complete, and Unambiguous in Establishing Spousal Support.

Like most alimony reform reform goals it is hard to disagree with them. Pretty much the only people that do disagree with them are those who don't understand them. That is why in Massachusetts alimony reform passed the legislature unanimously with full support from the Bar Association and Women's groups.