Thursday, June 24, 2021

Persistent Misconceptions About Alimony

There is a persistent misconception that alimony is compensation provided to a wife for her raising the children while the husband pursued a career. There is little, if any evidence to support this. Indeed, there is much to refute it. 

The book, The Marriage Buyout: The Troubled Trajectory of U.S. Alimony Law by Cynthia Lee Starnes (which I have not read) seems to support this notion if you look at it's conclusion posted online:

Many  of  the  primary  caregivers  at  work  in  today’s  homes  are  going  about their business unaware that if their marriages end they are likely to become the law’s suckers, set free to alone bear the long-term costs of  the  role  they  thought  was  part  of  marital  teamwork.  Archaic  alimony  laws  are  to  blame.  Alimony  is  often  the  only  available  tool  for  ensuring that divorce does not impose all the long-term costs of marital  roles  on  caregivers  while  freeing  the  other  spouse  to  enjoy  all  the  long-term benefits. Yet in its current incarnation, alimony is not up to the  task  before  it.  Beset  by  myths,  disdain,  and  neglect,  the  law  of  alimony  inspires  orders  that  are  unpredictable,  inconsistent,  short-lived,  and uncommon. Alimony’s problems are exacerbated by the absence of any contemporary rationale to justify its existence in an age of no-fault divorce and supposed gender equality. Concerned commentators have offered  an  array  of  alimony  theories  and  reform  proposals,  but  none  has  carried  the  day.  Meanwhile,  grassroots  alimony  reform  groups  in  numerous  states  are  working  hard  to  publicize  alimony  horror  stories  and promote legislative reform to limit alimony, most recently succeeding in Massachusetts

In my own case the court ordered custody evaluator concluded that Spring was not the primary caregiver during the marriage and the vocational evaluator concluded she could make just as much money as me. Yet she was able to walk away from the marriage with well over half the assets (none of which represented her earnings), no responsibility for the children whatsoever, and massive alimony income. 

96% of alimony payers are men. Women do not stay home to raise children 96% of the time. 

As I stated, Spring, received far more than half of marital assets at the time of divorce with no responsibility for the children. Even if somehow she deserved more why was that not handled as at the time of the divorce rather than through alimony? Two reasons:

  1. Lawyers and the whole divorce industry make far more money if the divorce drags on. 
  2. Misogynistic beliefs that women are unable to handle money so need an income rather than a settlement.  

Friday, June 18, 2021

A Thought

Most people I know, and I suspect most readers of this site, would agree that the reason blacks are over-represented in prison is due to societal racism not because blacks are inherently more likely to commit crimes. Yet, how many people would say the same about the male population being over-represented vs. females?

Food for thought. 

Friday, June 11, 2021

Divorce Statistics

A reader sent me some really interesting divorce statistics:

  • 900,000 people divorce each year nationwide;  18,000 avg. per state/year.
  • 600,000 ex-spouses pay alimony (IRS 2017**); 96% are men, 4% women estimated.

    • 19,000 alimony payers have $0 annual income.
    • 351,000 alimony payers have annual incomes $1 - $100,000.
    • 210,000 alimony payers have annual incomes over $100,000.
    • $12.7 billion annual alimony payments (IRS 2017), calculates to $21,200 avg. alimony payer/year.
    • A majority of alimony payers live on 1/3rd or less of their gross income in a subsistence life style.
    • Big picture, there are so few alimony payers in the US with 12,000 avg. per state, no meaningful alimony reform is likely in the foreseeable future.

  • 300,000 couples over age 50 divorce annually, and in 2030 will balloon to more than 400,000 busted marriages.
  • 16% of divorce cases request alimony; given in 6-15% approx. or 150,000 cases per year.
  • 85% of the time wives begin the divorce proceedings as they want out, and some do it for the security of the money while getting rid of you.  The result after divorce, most parties get screwed.

    • Post-divorce 100% of alimony payers experience a drop in their lifestyle standards.  Those with incomes less than $100,000/year really suffer as they cannot afford to live on 1/3 of their gross salary.
    • The recipient ex-spouse who was fortunate enough to divorce a payer spouse with an income over $100,000/year, generally may have an increased lifestyle (as 25%+/- cohabitate) often with another mate on $100K plus, with a nicer house, more expensive food, and nicer vacations after the divorce.
  • Child Support:
    • 85% of custodial parents are mothers, and 45% of children living with a divorced mother live at or near the poverty line. 
    • Only 50% of custodial parents are awarded child support, and only 45% receive the full amount.
    • $28.8 billion annual child support collected for 15.6 million children (2017 OSCE report), or $1850/ child in IV-D program.
    • $7 billion (27%) of the money collected annually for child support is spent by federal and state Child Support Enforcement agencies for enforcement.  (2009 OCSE report).
    • There is $89 billion in uncollected or past due child support.
    • 11,000 approximate child support-related suicides annually, and alimony-related suicides TBD.

Divorce is a $50 billion/year nationwide business spent on CS/alimony payments and legal expenses, with the courts spending $21 billion/year of the total.  This is why the avg. divorce costs $50,000.

**   The 2017 IRS archive records show 600,000 alimony payers who listed alimony as a tax deduction on their 1040 tax form filings, but this count includes both permanent and limited term alimony payers.  To clarify, the 600,000 payers we are considering are alimony only, and do not include child support.  So let's say of the reported total paying alimony, the best low estimate is that 50% of the 600,000 are permanent payers, so there are 300,00 - 500,000 permanent alimony payers nationwide.

Great, although quite disturbing information. 

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Friday, June 4, 2021

Robert McNair

I love the story of Robert McNair. He was kicked out of a library when he was 9 years old because he was black. He went on to get a PhD in Physics from MIT and then became an astronaut.  Now the library is named after him. 

The old adages apply:

It's not over until it's over

Hope springs eternal

The truth is the truth is the truth. And as long as you tell the truth, you'll be okay in the end.

and good old:

It's not over until the fat lady sings.