Saturday, January 14, 2017

Erica Manfred on Lifetime Alimony

Although it is a few years old now (which in the Internet age doesn't mean what it used to) I felt compelled to email Erica Manfred regarding an article she wrote in the Huffington Press, Should He Pay If He Trades in the Old Model After Decades of Marriage?

Here is what I sent her:
Dear Ms, Manfred,
I read your article on the Huffington Post, "Should He Pay If He Trades in the Old Model After Decades of Marriage?" and would like to make a few comments that you will hopefully take into consideration. 
There is a myth that they typical lifetime alimony recipient is, as you describe, a woman over 50 who stayed home and cared for the kids while her husband worked and eventually he left her for a younger women. There is zero evidence for this. In fact most divorces are actually filed by women. 
My own situation is quite the opposite of the one you describe. My wife left me when we were in our late 40s. Despite a custody evaluation that she was not the primary parent,  an employment evaluation that she could make make just a much money as me, my paying well into the six figures for legal expense (including her legal expenses), her taking most the marriage assets, joint custody of the kids (although they spent most their time with me) and my paying all expenses for the children, I have to pay her a massive amount of alimony until the day I die. I can never retire nor can remarry because that would oblige my new wife to pay alimony to my ex-wife should I become disabled. 
I'll emphasize that I did nothing wrong and acted ethically throughout the divorce process. She committed perjury and I have absolute unquestionable proof that her lawyer lied in court and committed fraud. 
Now you probably do not believe me or if you do think that my situation is highly unusual but that is sadly not the case. Minnesota Alimony Reform ( has many such stories. (I am from Minnesota) 
All assents earned by either party in a marriage are joint and split jointly. I understand rehabilitative alimony where it is necessary - although in most cases it is better to just get a bigger slice of the assets at the time of the divorce and be done with it. But this idea that men need to work till death for a woman who left him can only be justified if you believe women are less capable than men. We can never have gender equality until lifetime alimony is eliminated or at least half the time is paid by the women. Note that currently some 97% of the time the man is the one who pays. 
It is easy to find one off stories of people, men and women, who have suffered injustice in the family law system. Rulings are inconsistent, often arbitrary, and corruption is endemic. Although I am sure you did not intend to, stories that give only one side of the story will not make things better. What we need are clear laws, consistently implemented with safeguards for those who need it. In short we need fairness and justice. 
It would be great if you could write a more balanced article regarding lifetime alimony.  
Thank you for your time.

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