Friday, August 26, 2005

A is for Alimony Part II - or - Why Alimony is Wrong

Alimony is wrong.
Note that I don’t phrase this as a question – this isn’t a game show, although many men are in ‘jeopardy’. Still, for many, it is a question – some people just don’t 'get' that anything could be wrong with the concept or execution of alimony. In fact many consider it misogynous to verbalize the idea that alimony might be wrong. Once, when I commented that my well-compensated ex should just get on with her life, one of my lawyers said: “All men say that.” No tiptoeing around PC language like; ‘higher wage earner’, no, my lawyer said it the way it is – men pay alimony and women collect it, and men don’t like it. But let’s get to the point of my post – that Alimony Is Wrong. That Alimony is Wrong needs to be explained to the world, in very simple language that can be understood by all. So, getting to it:

Alimony Is Wrong Because:
Alimony is a form of slavery:
If you get divorced, earn more than your ex spouse, are a man and get a divorce you will be paying a significant portion of your income to her against your will for years – without the choice to change careers and earn less (oh, you can change careers, but the courts will ‘impute’ your prior income to you and take the alimony out of your salary before it hits your bank account). This is slavery. Wikipedia defines slavery as follows: “Slavery is a condition of control over a person, known as a slave, against his or her will, enforced by violence or other forms of coercion. Slavery almost always occurs for the purpose of securing the labor of the slave.” It goes on to note that ‘Chattel Slavery’ is a specific form where the slaves can be bought and sold. So short of being bought and sold, alimony makes men slaves. The Constitution’s Thirteenth Amendment has the following to say on slavery: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Very simply, Alimony is Slavery, and against the human rights specified in the Constitution of the United States.

Alimony is Involuntary Servitude: The Department of Justice notes on involuntary servitude that US Code specifies that it is “unlawful to hold a person in a condition of slavery, that is, a condition of compulsory service or labor against his/her will.”, and further requires as a definition of Involuntary Servitude: “that the victim be held against his/her will by actual force, threats of force, or threats of legal coercion”. They continue to note that the US Code “[…]prohibits compelling a person to work against his/her will by creating a ‘climate of fear’ through the use of force, the threat of force, or the threat of legal coercion.” They couldn’t have described the process of enforcing alimony and child support better if they had put their mind to it. -Title 18 USC Section 1584

Alimony and Child Support are “Debt Servitude” or “Peonage”: A debt is the requirement that an individual pay a sum of money, and tying this debt to labor that you require an individual to undertake in order to pay off this sum is peonage under the US Code. When a court in addition imputes a man’s income, attaches to his wages, and takes more than 10% of his income (65% being what the court is allowed to take in NJ), without recourse being allowed to bankruptcy, it becomes an even more obvious. Clearly Alimony is Debt Servitude/Peonage. -Title 18 USC Section 1581


Divorce Agreements Specifying Alimony are Unconscionable Contracts: An unconscionable contract is a contract that is “so unfair to a party that no reasonable or informed person would agree to it.” Clearly any contract that reduces one party to involuntary servitude or debt servitude must be considered unconscionable. To prove this, lawyers usually try to prove that the contract was signed under duress, undue influence, or unconscionable bargaining. Duress includes threats of imprisonment (hmm, sounds familiar) and threats of withholding or taking money or goods in exchange for payments or signatures (this is also a pervasive element of divorce). Undue Influence seems moot in a court system where the Judges are trained to ignore men's rights, and men are assumed to need to pay. I think it is fair to presume that undue influence is present in alimony, because the man really has no choice but to sign the divorce contract. Unconscionable Bargaining is where one party did not understand the consequence of signing the contract. Mostly at the divorce agreement stage, men understand too well, but have no choice (duress) – but their fate was sealed at another signature point – the marriage contract signing point. I think it is fair to argue that men paying alimony in general did not understand the implications of marriage when they got married, and in most cases would not have done so if they had known the very real and mechanical outcome of the failure of their marriage. In this way, a foundational agreement that is presumed in the divorce agreement is a product of unconscionable bargaining. So in several ways, divorce agreements specifying alimony are unconscionable contracts.

Alimony is Chauvinist in Effect – Discriminatory Against Men: The vastly overwhelming majority of alimony-payers are men, and it is well known and admitted that divorce laws relating to alimony and division of property are applied differently depending on who the sex of the higher wage-earner is. This is against our guarantee of equal rights in the constitution.

Feel free to add your own reasons, and I will return to add more myself. But for now…

-Good Evening and Best Wishes
-M

1 comment:

Vinayak said...

you said it in a nutshell.. Excellent post !!, keep it up

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