Saturday, August 13, 2005

A is for Alimony

Well, you knew that we had to get to Alimony in a more or less formal way sooner or later, and I say, get to it sooner, but this is likely only Part I of a subject that we will re-approach.

What is alimony? Well, it is not just one thing. In some states, alimony is what people pay to help their ex-partners restart their lives after an extended period of specializing in less-marketable and lower-income producing skills, such as housekeeping and child-rearing. (See O is for Oh Canada! for more on this.) In New Jersey, it is a tool for the redistribution of income, as directed by the decision in the case of Crews v. Crews. -Crews must be cited in every NJ divorce, and the citation goes something like this:

The parties have been advised by their attorneys of the case of Crews v. Crews, 164 N.J. 11(2000) in every respect including the parties’ respective right, after the divorce, to enjoy a lifestyle reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage. […] It is specifically agreed between the Husband and the Wife that after considering the equitable distribution of assets and the support provisions contained herein, as well as their respective abilities and obligations to provide for their own support and that of their children, that both parties can maintain a lifestyle reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage.

So first of all, the NJ Justice system has codified that the support provisions of a divorce are not based on need, but do explicitly have to do with the ‘redistribution of wealth’, and of course not just assets, but future earnings, and not just bare minimums, but enough to provide a lifestyle ‘comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage’. In practice, this lifestyle only applies to the lower-income of the parties seeking a divorce though, which is in the vast majority of cases, the woman. ...A strong effort is made to ensure that the lower-income spouse is able to live at or close to the lifestyle ‘to which she has become accustomed’, and the man gets the shorter end of the stick, because the assumption is, based on studies of post-divorce outcomes, that the man will prosper in his post-divorce years, while the woman descends into poverty. If this was ever the case (and we will hunt down and examine those studies at some point in the future) it is not the case now, for several reasons; 1) the higher wage-earner has generally been working for the period of his marriage, and is likely at or near an appropriate income for his skill set and abilities – raises nowadays running 2% for those who outperform, 2) the inverse is true, the lower-wage-spouse has likely not been fully employed, or has just recently returned to the workforce. As such the lower-wage earner (generally the woman) is likely under-compensated and can look forward to much more significant raises, and even more significant increases in income when she jumps between jobs, 3) the employment environment has changed significantly for women since the 1950s (note that Crews is a 2000 decision, so likely feminism, profit for lawyers and socialist thought were the only motivations for that decision) and a woman’s income is mostly only limited by her ambition and the job choices she is willing to make, and 4) joint physical custody is now becoming the norm, as men’s rights to father their children are becoming more recognized, spreading the financial and non-financial burdens of child-rearing to both partners. So in summary, NJ has codified a socialist-feminist concept that redistributes wealth between partners, effectively enslaving men, for reasons that are both outdated and wrong.

Second, (did you forget that there was a ‘first’?) this clause, which must appear in NJ divorce agreements is another example of New Jersey’s Wax Fruit fixation (see V is for Voluntary Execution) (I have mentioned before that there is a logical reason for this fixation, more on that another day). The higher income spouse, having just had his entire life torn from him, irregardless of fault, including half or more of his future income, potentially for the rest of his life, must attest that he can somehow live in a reasonably similar manner to what he did before, and that this is an entirely acceptable, and lovely agreement to him. -Affirming this is the only way to finalize his divorce, and climb out of his indubitably hellish interim support agreement, and unfreeze the shattered remnants of the remaining less-than-half of his assets.

If for no other reason, one should be very suspicious when the government makes people attest to things that you know cannot be true. Will your ‘work make you free'? Not in New Jersey.


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