This is Part 1 of my “Men In” series:
Marriage. Man and woman, joined as one in the eyes of God. In sickness and in health, ’til death do them part. This was the way it was supposed to be. Find a good woman, settle down, have kids, white picket fence, 50 year marriage.
My, how times have changed.
Divorce rates, although down, are still hovering around 50% in the US. Divorce is big business, funding family law offices, and financially stifling those unfortunate enough to be caught in it. So what are the basics on divorce?
Divorce is a state level jurisdiction, which means the Federal Government never usually gets involved (it has only ever gotten involved in child support). Almost all states have a form of what’s called a no-fault divorce system, which means one party can file for divorce at any time. There used to be a “fault” divorce, premised on reasons for the divorce (abuse, adultery, etc.), but now it’s not really about the reason, it’s about the divorce. There are really two main ways a divorce can go monetarily, and it depends on what state you got married in.
The first is called a “communal property” state, which splits the divorcing couples assets 50/50. This is what Jeff Bezos will be going through in Washington. There are other states that do what’s called an “equitable distribution”. These laws take into account to what the state thinks each person is worth in the divorce. It’s a misnomer as “equitable distribution” is not equal, it’s what’s “fair” as deemed by the state.
As you can see, marriage has become less and less about love and companionship, and is exclusively a business transaction. When the government became involved, the decline of marriage became inevitable, especially today, where family law, still antiquated and not updated in almost 40 years, savages people financially.
I’m writing today to talk about men in divorce, and not just men, but men who actually take responsibility. In many cases, these men are punished more than men who shirk their responsibilities. Family law is so backwards these days, there are many examples of men being arrested for not paying child support for a child that isn’t even his. Men can spend years in jail for being unable to pay alimony. Custody of kids is skewed towards the woman, as men only received custody is 10-15% of cases.
Men are hit harder by divorce. Men are more likely to develop suicidal thoughts after divorce. Men don’t have the social network that women have. Men are the hopeless romantics. Even in my personal experience of divorce, even when I initiated, I was devastated. It was the most difficult time of my life, because I thought my marriage defined me. It’s a blue pill norm that I couldn’t handle. I’d lost myself.
However, my divorce was not typical. It flew in the face of a lot of the norms, and I can confidently say that my divorce was very smooth. I filed against my ex, and, by acting like mature adults, we had very little issue with the process. We agreed on everything in principle, and with my job, I was lucky to be able to afford what was thrown at me. We went through mediation, and never went to court. My feeling was the money I was spending on lawyers could be better used by my kids.
Child support in my state is figured with two factors in mind. First, and most important, is time spent with the child. The second, lesser figure, is income. There are some states that factor income over time spent with the child, but the big picture for any state court is the child’s well being. “Well being” is a broad definition in family court, so whatever the judge decides, is the law.
But for every example you give of a “deadbeat dad”, I can give you examples of men, who just want to be in their child’s lives, being victimized by a woman who knows there are times you can exploit the system, and it brings horrible tragedies to families already going through tough times. While fathers not paying for their children is still a major problem, and with men still cheating more than women, family law has yet to address these new problems.
The system is weaponized over hurt feelings. This has to change.
“He’s Going to Pay for What He Did To Me.”
Women initiate divorce 69% of the time, according to a recent study by Stanford University. The reasons are many behind the study, however, the study also recognizes that women have an easier time after divorce, because divorce, for many, is good for women. Men who make more than their spouses have much more to lose. With states that provide alimony, women have a base for which to grow economically, while men finance their endeavors, with jail time hovering over them if they don’t provide “an income for which she was accustomed to”. The playing field is rigged much of the time, with the State becoming the de facto third parent, dolling out justice to those it feels have wronged the other party. But it takes two to tango, and while we weep for those that feel they were wronged, both parties need to examine why divorces occur and if we need to re-examine the entire concept of marriage, much less why we get married in the first place.
With all the talk of gender equality, no where is gender more proportionally misrepresented than in the family courts. We need to update family law, so all sides are more equitably represented and protected. I’m all for women making more money than men, because then family law will have to contend with the fallout of traditional gender roles in marriage. When you apply gender dynamics of the early 50’s to today’s family law decisions, it makes judge’s decisions that much easier (men work, women stay home). But as we all know, it’s changed, and the system is hurting those it was designed to help.
As a man who constantly discusses divorce and what not to do, I always say that, especially in states without alimony, it’s child support, not spouse support. I make sure to support my kids in every way possible. I see fathers everyday who do the same thing, but are punished by a ex who uses the system to their advantage. For every man cheating on his spouse, I have examples everyday of a woman cheating on her husband, claiming abuse where there wasn’t any, and ruining his life simply because she can, with the state as a willing accomplice.
I have been soured on marriage. I recommend to all of my readers to not get married. Not even prenuptial agreements are safe for you. Until you understand the consequences of marriage, you have to make sure you’re protected. Always err on the side of caution, especially if you don’t know the whole story.
I lead with a story on divorce because when it all boils down, marriage and love are secondary to the very real effects that divorce has on a man’s life.
If, and that’s a very big “if”, I get remarried, it will be with the express understanding of both parties of financial consequences and fallout from divorce. It’s not about love anymore.