Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Now I see via an article on equalparenting-bc.ca that in Canada, if a man actually owns arms during a divorce, they will often be confiscated, and the ownership of the weapons will become grounds for a restraining order. So the right to bear arms, apparently only applies to women once divorce is in the air. I can't believe that this is restricted to Canada, and wonder how many men in other countries, along with losing their income, assets, houses and children have had their firearms confiscated, and how often US women have claimed that they were in fear for their lives, not for anything the man has done, but because the man owned a gun. (Of course, in the US, a woman doesn't have to give a reason she is afraid of her husband to get a Temporary Restraining Order, so maybe this doesn't come up as much.)
The article has some good quotes that echo things happening here in the states, such as the way women are often encouraged to misrepresent the facts so as to gain advantage during a divorce, and how whereas their lies are taken seriously, there are no repercussions if and when their lies are discovered:
Painting gun owners as unstable potential threats is part of a trend in nasty separation battles, explains one family lawyer, who asked not to be identified. "In an ugly divorce, the first thing you have to do is put the spouse in a bad light," she says. "A common question is, 'Has there ever been any sexual abuse of the children, has he ever threatened you, ever hit you, anything you're scared of, can you even insinuate that he threatened you? Then we can probably get him out of the house and have him look bad in a court battle." The ethics walk a fine line, she adds. "You don't say, 'Make it up,' but, 'Looking back, can you, in hindsight, say it may have been construed as a threat?"
And in the next paragraph:
"False allegations are not against the law," says [Ross] Bailey [executive-at-large with the Parents' Coalition of B.C.]. "You can lie on an affidavit and you don't get called on it like you do in criminal court. They can say, 'Yes he does have guns and he has threatened me.' The fact is, the more you lie, the more you get."
The article ends with a line that I would like help wrap up my post too, a quote that explains what is wrong with US divorce to a tee:
Whenever one makes a law [that] arms one group of people with a club to beat the other, that club invariably will be used.
In short women have been armed with a bigger club - in court they have overwhelmingly superior firepower - the confiscation of men's arms, and the issuing of arms to women is just a translation of that legal firepower into physical ordinance.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
- If he has their addresses, I gather that he has already located them, and if he hasn't gotten their address right, isn't he publishing someone else's address, and putting whoever really lives at that address at risk?
- And by the way, did these 'deadbeat dads' get a full jury trial, where it was determined by a jury of their peers that they rightfully and reasonably should be paying the specified amounts? -Remember, alimony and child support judgements are only very rarely (read 'almost never') supported by anything resembling a trial, instead you are guilty until you can prove yourself innocent.
- And did a group of the alleged (alleged, because he didn't get a trial) deadbeat's peers or even a group of lawyers or judges review case law at a sentancing hearing, and decide that publishing their names was appropriate, given their crimes?
I gather that none of these questions was adequately asked or answered by Attorney Maze, and not only that, that he is not aware that the vast majority of 'deadbeat dads' are not people who are choosing not to pay their support and alimony, but instead are people who CANNOT pay the judgements against them, again, judgements entered into without the benefit of a jury, or any peer review of the reasonableness of the fines and punishments being levied. Irv either just doesn't get it, or is pandering to an ignorant class of voters, instead of persuing justice.
In his article, Glenn cites the statistics and facts on deadbeat dads, how the majority are simple laborers and the like, people without huge earning potential against whom huge judgements have been made - again, just to reiterate, without trial or review. Whereas these statistics are great, and help to debunk the 'deadbeat dad' myth, they totally shortchange another group - the men who did (prior to their divorce) have resources and education, who are now, because of job loss or financial difficulty on top of their divorce, now barely evading being a 'deadbeat dad', or who have slipped into that state due to the immensity of the debts loaded upon them by the legal system in spite of their job loss or 'underemployment'. ...Men who are required, in many cases, to continue to finance a six figure lifestyle for their ex, while just scraping by themselves. Men whose life, lifestyle, and prospects somehow just don't matter anymore. Men, often locked out of their children's lives, and prevented from having their own anymore. Men who are enslaved to their ex, and the machinery of divorce- the family law system. We call these people the 'Disposable Dads', and under the current law it's most of us.
Irv is so unrepentant or more likely clueless as to post the list on his county web-site, along with his phone, and an address and an email. Howabout letting him know what he is doing wrong? The man is also up for re-election in 2006. Maybe the locals will boot him.
Also the Louisville Courier-Journal Article does make an effort to represent part of the men's-rights side:
But some fathers' rights advocates criticized publishing the names of parents who owe child support, saying the public shame unfairly stigmatizes fathers.
Jeffery Leving, a prominent Chicago lawyer who lobbies for fathers seeking custody and visitation rights, heads the state-appointed Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood.
Most fathers behind on child support don't pay because they don't have the money, often because of illness or unemployment, Leving said. Many who can pay but don't have been denied visitation rights, he said.
"I've never seen a list of deadbeat moms who don't allow visitation," he said, adding that the U.S. child-support enforcement system is "gender biased."
but the article ends with comments from the executive director of a community center in Newburg called 'The Lighthouse' who claims that children 'refuse to learn' because the 'absent' (uh, expelled? denied? disposed-of?) father falls behind on support and so there is no incentive to learn. This seems like unfortunate spin, with little basis in fact, and ignoring the very real facts that men are often denied the minimal visitation rights granted by the court, and are left paying outrageous sums for a family that they cannot see, and to an ex-spouse who often enjoys a lifestyle better than theirs.
Well I have two news flashes for the world:
1) Most men don’t file for divorce – Women file for divorce twice as often as men.
2) Divorced men aren’t suffering from a middle age crisis – women in their 40s are filing for 66% of the divorces, and infidelity is not usually a reason for the divorce.
I don’t feel that divorce itself is evil. If you follow the teachings of the church closely, (and most people have some sort of faith) you will probably NOT be intimate with, or cohabit with your spouse prior to marriage, and this leads to many persons who are just incompatible being married - they just don't know their spouse. On the other hand, cohabitation won’t do you any good if you aren’t very willing to leave in search of a better partner, and once people are living together, they often feel that they must marry to justify their flaunting of convention. Once married, they may realize that they have made a huge mistake – which marrying the wrong person is. Sometimes they struggle with their marriage to this wrong person for years and years, sliding farther into despair as they go along, with the pressure of community, church, and state on them to keep trying to ‘make it work’ and ‘stay for the children’. So our culture pushes people into marriage who shouldn’t be there, tries to keep them there, no matter how awful it is, and then condemns them when they divorce.
What about the children though? Those innocent victims of divorce whose lives are torn apart? Shouldn’t people stay together ‘for the children’ if they have had some? I say no. Although our culture often seems to believe that marriage is about children, it is not. Children are an important responsibility that comes out of a marriage, but fundamentally, a marriage is a union between two people who love each other. If that love dies, and cannot be rekindled, staying in that marriage is a little piece of hell, like being nailed into a coffin with the corpse of someone you once loved, except that the corpse isn’t a quiet cohabitant, no it keeps grabbing you, or, most likely, abusing you in a variety of ways. Forcing someone to remain in a situation like that is a crime, and leads to hatred – and a household full of hatred is not a good place to raise children. Far better, after making a reasonable effort to save the marriage, to split and remain as amicable as possible, then to stay and create a living hell on earth.
So, people, get it through your heads; sometimes divorce is the best solution possible, men don’t just abandon marriages for the next cute thing that comes along, and the statistics show that if anything, middle-aged men are just stable as their younger counterparts, and possibly more stable. It’s time our culture learned that divorced people aren’t incurably evil. It’s time to stop treating them like lepers.
Friday, August 26, 2005
But there is good news! The law can still be vetoed: North Carolinans, call your Gov - he can still veto it before Oct 1. After that, it's puttin the guns in the hands of the thieves, always a winning strategy I think.
hat tip to the DesertLightJournal for alerting me to this story.
p.s. The following quote from the fatherhoodcoalition might shed some further light on why issuing guns with restraing orders is bad:
Almost 90% of judicial magistrates in New South Wales acknowledged that protective orders were used in divorce - often on the advice of a solicitor - to deprive fathers of access to their children. Elaine Epstein, former president of the Massachusetts Women's Bar Association, writes that restraining orders are doled out 'like candy.' 'Everyone knows that restraining orders and orders to vacate are granted to virtually all who apply,' and 'the facts have become irrelevant,' she reports.
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
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
I wanted to call atention to a couple different posts on the web about a different form of 'incentive' relating to marriage... ...rather than focusing on the relative rates of divorce between states, these posts call atention to the dis-incentive provided by our oppressive legal system as it affects the overall marriage rate- -producing what some are calling 'the marriage strike'. If you haven't seen this yet, take a look at this editorial at ifeminists by Wendy McElroy and also at this post by Matt Weeks that Wendy links to in her editorial. Oh, and Matt got a good part of his data and text from Glenn Sacks. All are well worth a read.
Marriage is down overall, and the factors pointed out by Wendy, Matt and Glenn (factors that we have also addressed here) are not insignificant. I worry that things will get still worse before they improve.
This post continues my series on the relative incentives or disincentives to marriage and divorce in different states, ranking them by their friendliness to men.
On the topic of incentives and disincentives, it occurs to me that a disincentive to marry for a man may be percieved by a significant percentage of the female population as an incentive to marry. So, in other words, one reason why we don't see a good correlation between states with worse laws for men and reduced marriage rates, might be that these laws actually incentivize women, causing them to be more eager for marriage, and to be willing to do more to get to that hallowed and highly lucrative state. After all, all you need is to get one hard-working and slightly naiive man to stay married to you for a few years, and have a child (a goal for many women anyway) and voilla! you have a second income for decades, perhaps even life, and everyone mooning over your hard luck with lots of sympathy.
I was thinking, and I figured that my last post was probably over-complex, with weighting factors and all - leaving readers saying, 'but, how do we know if we agree with his weightings?' and 'but what if he did the math wrong?' and wanting some simpler presentation of some of the basic facts. So I thought a simple list might help with that:
States where child support (supposedly) is not a percentage of income, and alimony ignores standard of living:
Kansas - state divides non-marital assets in divorce
Idaho - state divides non-marital assets in divorce
Louisiana - state divides non-marital assets in divorce
States where, although Child Support is a percentage, Alimony is not:
North Dakota - state divides non-marital assets in divorce
Perhaps tomorrow, I will go looking on the web to try and see if divorces in these states really reflect the supposedly advantageous legal situation that the data seems to show, or if the laws are ignored in order to care for the victim (woman), as we saw was happening in NY and NJ in U is for Unequal.
Data for this study came from Abanet.
Monday, August 22, 2005
AKA "10 Best States for a Guy to get Divorced In"
So I added weights to my analysis of states, and considered relative merits of the factors I had, and theorized and considered, and here is what I finally came up with:
Factors Considered in Order of Weight (Most Important to Least) and Why:
Major Factors: (181% to 70% Weighting)
Joint Custody Recognized: (47 States) – almost everyone claims to recognize joint custody - but if they don’t even claim to support joint custody, I figure they must be beyond the beyond. Note that custody drives child support, and sometimes alimony, and that children are usually considered your most valuable possession.
Child Support not a percentage of Income: (34 States) – I counted this as more important than alimony because states often (but not always) load the heaviest financial burdens on men here, and child support is not tax-deductible.
Alimony Ignores Standard of Living: (11) – There are only 11 states that claim not to consider standard of living – the rest of the states enslave men. Nuff said.
Secondary Factors: (40% to 20%)
College not Considered in Support: (33) – Although it is nice to pay for your kids’ college, for the state to mandate such a huge expense is inappropriate.
Only Marital Property Divided: (32) – Certainly being able to retain some of your family inheritances, pre-marital assets, and gifts as yours alone has significant value to men, even if it is difficult to do in practice. Especially with couples marrying later in life, this is relatively important.
Shared Parenting Offsets Support: (28) – Imagine paying a huge support number, even if you have the kids most of the time. Also having a law about this indicates that the state occasionally does allow joint custody and/or occasionally gives custody to the man.
Custody not a Factor in Alimony: (24) – Child support should be child support and spousal support should be spousal support. Blending the two seems like a bad idea, and a sign of murky thinking.
I added in a few other factors – consideration of fault in a divorce I actually weighted negatively, as I have seen enough of the court system to know that fault would generally be weighted against the man, there are 10 ‘community property’ states out there, and I weighted that against them (15%) – (division of marital property exclusion handled most of that already), the 12 states recognizing common law marriages got a minor strike against them (7%) (would be nice to be able to live in sin without having to be enslaved) and the 9 states making all income community property for tax purposes got a really minor tap (2%).
With all that said, here is my current ranking of the states in terms of friendliness to men in marriage, from best to worst. Reviewing the data, you can see that although some of the states that are known abusers of men have lower marriage rates, there is no great correspondence between abuse and low marriage rates in terms of the laws and weightings in this table. Still, this table may be of interest to those contemplating marriage, although it says nothing about the actual way the laws are applied - I apologize for the lack of lovely format, struggling with html inside the blogger is not worth my time.
State, Wtd Rank, Rank%, Marriage Rate 2001 as % of range, excluding NV and HI
West Virginia 1 100% 30.30%
Wyoming 2 100% 54.55%
Oklahoma 3 98% 0.00%
Maine 4 97% 41.41%
Indiana 5 95% 8.08%
Kansas 6 95% 27.27%
Idaho 7 90% 65.66%
Maryland 8 86% 22.22%
North Carolina 9 86% 29.29%
Virginia 10 86% 41.41%
Delaware 11 85% 18.18%
Nebraska 12 85% 32.32%
Ohio 13 85% 24.24%
Colorado 14 83% 38.38%
Kentucky 15 83% 42.42%
Florida 16 80% 48.48%
Louisiana 17 79% 37.37%
New Mexico 18 78% 30.30%
Pennsylvania 19 78% 11.11%
Michigan 20 78% 18.18%
Vermont 21 78% 50.51%
New Jersey 22 77% 17.17%
Rhode Island 23 74% 37.37%
Missouri 24 74% 27.27%
Mississippi 25 74% 18.18%
Utah 26 73% 57.58%
South Dakota 27 73% 42.42%
Montana 28 70% 23.23%
Oregon 29 70% 28.28%
Arizona 30 68% 31.31%
North Dakota 31 67% 17.17%
South Carolina 32 66% 44.44%
Minnesota 33 64% 19.19%
Nevada 34 61% 708.08%
Connecticut 35 61% 7.07%
Georgia 36 59% 14.14%
District of Columbia 37 59% 19.19%
Hawaii 38 56% 156.57%
Wisconsin 39 55% 16.16%
Tennessee 40 53% 90.91%
Illinois 41 50% 24.24%
Alabama 42 50% 47.47%
Iowa 43 48% 23.23%
Alaska 44 46% 33.33%
Massachusetts 45 44% 15.15%
Texas 46 44% 45.45%
New Hampshire 47 40% 37.37%
California 48 40% 17.17%
Arkansas 49 38% 100.00%
New York 50 29% 30.30%
Washington 51 26% 23.23%
My best to all: -M
Data for my study came from abanet .
Sunday, August 21, 2005
But to start with, the question that comes to mind is 'which are the best states to get divorced in/the best states to BE married in for a man.' Key items would be:
- States that don't recognize community property.
- States where child support has some cap, and is not an abusive percentage of income.
- States where joint custody is encouraged, to the degree that it actually happens.
- States that don't support an ex-spouse's right to live in the means to which she (or, very rarely, he) has become accustomed aka Crews v. Crews (See A is for Alimony)
- States where loss of job or change in job status is grounds for reduction in support.
- States where child support is optional when paternity is disproven.
- States which require some sort of hearing or trial before protection orders or interim alimony orders, asset freezes are imposed.
Well, I'm off to do some research. I'll post an update when I get my facts together. Feel free to post other suggestions as to key 'married-male-positive' state features.
And the early results are in, and they are.... ....not overwhelmingly conclusive. To try and see if there was a disincentive to marry in male-unfriendly-divorce-states, I built a table of states showing what should have been male-positive legislative environments and ranked them. I was suprised to see NJ showed up 33rd out of 51 (had to include DC) by my current weighting, not great, but better than I thought - but looking I see that NJ Claims not to be a community property state for division of property. Hmpf. Well, you could have fooled me. NJ also gets boosted off the very bottom by recognizing shared custody, agreeing that child-support should not just be a percentage of income, and reducing it when the parents share children. But here is where you start to see the rub. My analysis utilized facts about the laws on the books, and failed to recognize behavior. Obviously NJ ACTS like a community property state in many ways. And of course the biggest factor should be what awards look like in terms of percentages of incomes, and that data just isn't to be had. But I had to go with what I had. So then I looked at marriage rates. Could I correlate marriage rates to better treatment of men? Sadly, the answer is not so much. Marriage rates are all over the place. Some states (Nevada, Hawaii...) are marraige 'destinations', and are clearly off the scale. Others have gung-ho economies that drive young, marriagable people to move there and tie the knot. But you can recognize SOME dogs in the data:
The bottom 10 states in terms of marriage rate: (number in parenthesis is my Men's Rights Ranking). I bolded states I wanted you to notice.
North Dakota (4)
New Jersey (33)
And here are the bottom 10 states in terms of laws that should affect men's rights: (Hey, look, here are Wisconsin and California again!).
District of Columbia
So incentive may have had a strong effect on NJ and California, and the like. I am guessing North Dakota is looking at economic and social issues that lower their rate, or maybe the judges abuse men irregardless of the law. Happens in NJ, why not ND? Oh, there is a correlation on the other side of the marriage/divorce equation too. The two states I calculated as being friendliest to divorcing men show up in the 10 states with the highest divorce rates.
10 States Theoretically Friendliest to Divorcing Men (Rank in # divorces (higher=more) in parenthesis):
West Virginia (45)
North Dakota (9)
South Dakota (15)
North Carolina (35)
Indiana (no data)
The average ranking of these states seems to fall in the 30s, which makes me suspect that a male-friendly divorce environment encourages divorce to some degree.
Well, I plan on adjusting my weightings to make alimony a stronger negative, and we will see what happens from there. I will post the table of legalities at some point too.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
If you are moderately familiar with the topic at hand, which is the treatment of men by our society, you probably have wondered how men can survive the crushing depression that they must feel while struggling with a strongly biased legal system that is eager to enslave them.
Well, many of men don’t survive it.
Suicide rates for men and boys are already much higher than those for women and girls – with 75% of all suicides being committed by men - over 22,000 men per year. (The rate is 80% in Canada, perhaps reflecting their system, which is often even more abusive of men. )
And suicide rates for divorced men are even higher than that - divorced and separated men are TWICE AS LIKELY to commit suicide as other men, per the study "Marital Status and Suicide in the National Longitudinal Mortality Study" by Augustine J. Kposowa, Ph.D., at the University of California at Riverside. CBS News covered the report here.
The study showed that being single versus being married made no difference in suicide rates.
- Simply 'being married' does not provide singificant mental health benefits relating to suicide.
Even more tellingly, for women marital status, married, single, separated or divorced, made NO STATISTICAL DIFFERENCE in suicide rates.
- So somehow, divorce affects men in a much more significant way than women. One wonders what that way could be...
Previous to this study, increased rates of suicide for men had been explained away by claiming that significant mental and physical health benefits were to be had from married life, and by 'congitive differences' between men and women - women purportedly spending more time 'processing' their problems and thinking more 'inclusively' than men, Well Dr. Kposowa's research has exposed that canard, (wait, let me speak plainly:) that misandrous, shovenist tripe for what it is.
Let's take a moment and really reveiw those numbers, which we will extrapolate using the published rough perecentages in the CBS news article:
Total Suicides: 30,000 per year
Men's Suicides: 22,500 per year
Women's Suicides: 7,500 per year
Divorced/Separated Men's Suicides: 14,850 per year.
Hmm. I wonder how many men committed suicide outside of a divorce/separation situation. Well, I know how to subtract, lets see...
Non Divorced/Separated Men's Suicides: 7,650 per year.
Approximately equal to the number for women.
So it seems reasonable to guess, that if it were not for the way men are treated in divorce, those 14,850 men PER YEAR would still be alive.
Dr. Kposowa's study; the first study that cared enough about men to look at the details of why men kill themselves; shows us that if you hear about a man committing sucide the odds are better than 2:1 that he is either a divorcee or going through a divorce.
Suicide is a dramatic and extreme way out of a very bad situation. -A way out that few would choose.
The significant increase (2:1) in suicides following a divorce for men is very significant.
These men are the canaries in the coal-mine of our family court system. They are literally dying to tell us something, and apparently that something is about... Divorce.
SO NOW COMES THE BIG QUESTION:
What is so terrible about divorce that men would kill themselves to escape it?
The answer is simple: Slavery. To quote Adrian Banks' article on suicide and divorce:
So what is the main cause of [divorced male] suicide? […] The answer to this question is not that difficult, but before someone can accept the truth of the main causes of suicide, one must first accept the truth that slavery is just as much an institution today as it has been throughout history. The more oppressive and cruel the enslavement, the more suicides there will be among the enslaved classes of society. Why do you think that, in pre civil war times, slaves were kept in the holes of ships and not allowed on the decks? Simple, it kept the slave trader's precious cargo of labor from jumping into the ocean. As Winston Churchill stated during World War II, "it is better to perish that to live as slaves." […] In a divorce situation today, there need not be any legitimate grounds thanks to no fault divorce. A man can be a hard working fellow who supports his family and loves his children, but if his wife decides to divorce him, there is nothing he can do.
Kposowa cites "financial obligations," in explaining the preponderance of divorcees amongst male suicides noting that "The courts in the United States are in a position now whereby money is given to the woman, or the man is forced to pay alimony, child support. The man is also asked, in some [perhaps most] cases, to vacate the house."
Kposowa also notes: "If a man loses custody of the children and the woman keeps those children, there are situations whereby she may not allow the man to see the children, and that causes some depression." -No kidding.
Suicidal divorced men are merely slaves leaping from the decks
– consider the facts:
- Most marriages end in divorce – over 60% by my numbers.
- 66% of these are initiated by the wife and few of them for abuse or any real fault. -No-fault divorces are initiated by women three times as often as by men.
- The courts award physical custody to the man about 3% of the time – the odds are 40 to 1 against the man winning physical custody.
- Truly shared custody is so rare that the courts don’t even know how to calculate support for it – their spreadsheets don’t support it. They have to fill out one for the father as primary, and one for the mother, and then average the two. - I believe that loss of access to one’s children and alienation are key factors in male suicide.
- Women commonly interfere with the visitation rights of the ex husband. 75% of men complain of this behavior, and 40% of women admit it. If one assumes complaints are lower than the actual number of abuses, the numbers must be staggering.
- Add the loss of the vast majority of the marital assets and the house, and everything that the man has worked for, financial contributions being where men are expected to excel, and what they are supposed to judge themselves by, and you have taken away a lot of the reasons that men have to live.
- Add alimony and child support, all while not being allowed to co-parent your own children.
- Add to all this the fact that the state’s machinery grinds very finely – loss of a job, ‘underemployment’, and bankruptcy are good enough reasons to lose almost any debt, but not alimony and child support, no, these continue unabated, plus penalties and legal fees.
- And if our poor man is unlucky enough to lose his job, or become ‘underemployed’, then the legal system in many of our states, including NJ, will take 60-65% of his income, even unemployment, irregardless of what his spouse is earning. Imagine, a spouse with a $150,000 salary, collecting 65% of the income of a man scratching by on $405 per week unemployment, or a $40,000/year job. NJ would do it in a heartbeat. I bet they already have.
So divorced men have good reason to be casting themselves from the decks.
Having lost their wives, their children, their assets, and finally their ability to earn a living, and being relegated to permanent poverty, divorced men are killing themselves in record numbers - over 15,000 men per year, killed by divorce.
Our job is to support them, and encourage our government to notice, and care.
See The State of Fatherhood for more information... If you feel suicidal, the divorce info page on suicide might be a good place to look.
I also recommend looking at Swallowed by a Snake.
I probably don't have anything against them personally, but you know, they ARE lawyers, after all.
And if I did have something against them, I might be careful not to say it, because I wouldn't want to defame them, and have them spend their spare time hunting me.
But either way, they make their living off the rape of men, so know that when you visit them, you are visiting the lion's den.
If you are thinking of retaining someone, imagine you are selling your life (and you are) like you buy a house: there may be two agent's involved, but they both really work for the other person, and in the end, you pay them both.
You might be able to tell their attitude towards men though by reviewing some of their posts and comments. Who is replying to them? Any clearly male-positive posts or comments? No? Hmmmm.
OK now on to the websites I linked...
NJ Law Blog: Divorce
NJ Family Law
(p.s. this wasn't really posted on 18-Aug-05, but that is the date I put up my 'more about this blog' post, so it seems like a good neighborhood.)
It has struck me over the years that divorce law is not only backwards, it is also upside down - it punishes you for what should be good things, and effectively rewards you for bad behavior. Follows a tally of ways in which the New Jersey Divorce System encourages the bad, and punishes the good (feel free to post your own):
- Taking good care of your children and spouse and taking them on nice regular vacations, or sending them off to regular and lovely events, are all bad – these things will go towards the lifestyle of the marriage, and increase what you pay.
- Staying married longer is wrong – you will pay higher alimony (remember, >10 years generally means 'permanent alimony').
- Working hard and earning good money is wrong – you will pay both higher alimony and possibly more child support.
- Saving and investing is wrong – although the contribution may only or mostly represent your efforts, and even if you had a terrible wife who provided you with nothing resembling any form of support at home, in divorce you will get 50% of the value of your investments… or, more likely, less...
- Buying a house is wrong – it is likely that your real estate investment will be needed for your spouse and children to live in, so you will lose use of it, be forced to continue contributing to it, and if it ever is sold, realize only 50% of its value, at best.
- Telling the truth is wrong – The court never punishes those (well, at least women) who lie in their certifications, no matter how outrageous the claims or how obvious the lie.
- Obeying your judgments is wrong – The court rarely punishes women who fail to live up to their family court judgments. (Don’t try this as a man.)
- Paying off judgments to your ex is wrong – it provides funds with which your ex can pay her lawyer for new motions against you.
- Making any significant effort to pay parts of judgments is wrong - If you come up with some money, the courts will accept that this is evidence that you have been withholding funds. (I've seen it!)
- Saving money post-divorce is a mistake, your ex can attach to it if you ever fail to make a single payment, or lose your job.
- Spending money on your children’s food and shelter is wrong – the court system insists that child support and alimony comes first.
- Buying a house post-divorce is a mistake too, as your ex can take a lien out against it, or insist that it be liquidated to support her lifestyle if she gets a new judgment against you.
- Getting remarried is wrong – your new spouse’s assets can and likely will become community property, accessible to your ex’s legal machinations, and she loses her right to privacy. (I can hear the lawyers saying ‘No! No! This isn’t true! It is. I have seen it happen. You have to keep telling yourself ‘this is divorce law’. Normal legal standards don’t apply much here.)
There are other upside-down things in the law that are even scarier… for example, if one killed their wife in a crime of passion one could realistically be out of jail in 5 years. But being married for 10 years gets you a life of alimony/slavery. Now, where do you think that particular bit of math takes those who value life cheaply, or have a loose grip on their sense of right and wrong in the first place?
Or let’s look at the ‘attaching to your salary’ portion of the law. Muggers, check-forgers and other criminals generally cannot have more than 10% of their income withheld by the state to pay judgments, but alimony payers who are late on their payments can have 65% withheld, without even a hearing to determine ability to pay. (The court will tell you that you can have a hearing later, and if anything inappropriate was taken, you can get it back from your ex. Don’t hold your breath.) At any rate, it is apparently better to get caught robbing a store than to end up tangled up in a divorce.
So, Ma Jersey tells us:
“Don’t let on to your wife that you’re unhappy, or that you need to split, go get a 2nd mortgage, and spend all of it. Spend your savings, and your investments too, as it’s going to get taken anyway, spending's the best thing to do. Be sure you are jobless 8 months before you file, don’t worry at all about losing your domicile, and if you can stay out of work, you won’t have any payments to shirk”
Thanks again Ma. Good to have clear guidance as to what New Jersey thinks is moral.
- Nothing is Real: Everything that I personally put here is my best understanding of the subject, but likely won't stand up in a court of law for one millisecond, or will be vehemently denied, and then done anyway. I am not responsible for what other people post, or for what happens on external websites linked to from this page. It is even possible that malicious hackers might modify this page without my permission, and that misleading information might be posted. Therefore nothing here should be taken as guidance for your actions. DON'T DO THIS AT HOME. LAWYERS ARE TRAINED PROFESSIONALS WHO CAN HELP YOU WITH THIS PROCESS. YOU SHOULD CONSULT A LAWYER BEFORE TAKING ANY SIGNIFICANT ACTION IN YOUR SEPARATION/DIVORCE, AND BE WILLING TO DISCHARGE HIM OR HER AT A MOMENT'S NOTICE. IT IS PROBABLY BEST TO HAVE SEVERAL LAWYERS WHO WILL ADVISE YOU ON YOUR MATTER, IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT. I AM NOT A LAWYER, AND THIS WEB-SITE SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE. Instead, and at best it will hopefully show you what can and might happen. Please consult your best, and most trusted advisors, preferably people who will never, ever speak to your wife, ex, or potential ex, or their friends, and act accordingly.
DISCLAIMER TO DISCLAIMER #1: Although I still advocate legal advice if you can get it, extensive experience has shown me that for anyone other than perhaps the very rich, using legal representation means that you pay two lawyers to lose your case, while spending more than you are arguing about. -For what it is worth. Perhaps best to consult with lawyers and represent yourself. Perhaps.
- Reality Changes: What is presented here as things that will likely happen is generally based on the past performance of the legal system. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Divorce law is kind of like the wild west, especially in New Jersey, and likely in your state, too. As much of divorce processes depend on the discretion and prejudices of the judge(s) and the various lawyers involved, both as your mouthpieces, and as members of settlement panels, and as much of divorce law is in actual conflict with normal human rights, your results may vary, and in fact, portions of the legal environment may, and hopefully will, get turned on their ear at any point. Don't hold your breath, but stay on your toes, and don't hold everything written here to be forever true.
- My posts here may change: Individual posts made by me will be adjusted here over time. I will notice grammatical and other mostly minor things in the first day or so following my creation of a new post and tweak them. I will mostly not call this to your attention. If you call my attention to an item needing change (via a post or email) I will change it (unless I disagree) and give you credit. If major changes are required or facts are clearly wrong, I will find some way to mark up the original text, and give credit again to my correctors.
- Protect Yourselves: Don't post anything here under your real name, and please don't post anything here that is so specific that it identifies you. For now you can post anonymously, but I would suggest that you get an email (or better, a chain of emails that forward to each other) that protect your identity (see sneakemail.com for one alternative) and register here under one of these identities. Web-sites can and have been forced to identify posters. The courts also have in the past and may again in the future decide that it is 'likely' that you posted something due to your IP address, which they may be able to obtain. Please be advised and act accordingly.
- Selection is Good: I don't give you the right to post pointless or troll-like comments, or deranged blather, nor am I required to preserve your comments. Abuse, racism, and the like will not be tolerated, and save your dirty words for some other venue. I will try to be generous in judging posts, but mostly, if your post is not quickly wiped out, it will be because I think it is truly great, and adds to or substantiates our discussion in some real way.
- Be Brave: All of this should not discourage you from posting, nor should it make you think that I am unhappy to have received a post that I end up removing. My standards will inevitably not be yours, and that is life, and if lots of people say something that I think is deranged, I am more liable to let one of those posts stand, and note that whereas I disagree, this is apparently a common line of thinking. Don't try and overwhelm me with a deranged viewpoint though, I can see IPs and the like, and I will just turn on registration, and ban you.
- Change is Work: Also, with regard to any fear I have generated by pointing out the privacy/legal issues above, life is short, and if you never speak out, you will never be heard. And there is no shame in anonymity, it stands in the great lineage of the fathers of the American Revolution, most notably Thomas Paine, whose words of encouragement to the colonials were also anonymous. Truly, these ARE the times that try men's souls.
All my best to all of you in your struggles.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Unfortunately, the title of this post probably would be instantly readable to anyone grinding through our divorce system, which approaches many things in a impressively backwards way. Why do I say backwards? Well fundamentally because the law is approached in a backwards manner: In a criminal trial, a citizen is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and he cannot be punished without a jury of his peers finding him guilty. Things don't work that way for a man caught in the family court system, a system so bizarre and wrongheaded, that it reminds me of Bosch's vision of hell in his painting 'The Garden of Earthly Delights'.
The way the courts do work, is that you are guilty until proven innocent, and your right to due process, when honored, is honored post the imposition of the punishment for your purported crime. Let's review the ways in which this happens:
- If a woman wants her husband or partner out of the house, she can file for a protection order that gets him out, and prevents him from having contact with her or the children. As we have seen in 'U is for Unequal', our judges have been trained to grant these orders by default, rather than potentially allow some predator access to the wife and children he has been living with every day and night for the last several years. It can take months for the man caught in this situation to clear his name and even get access to his children. Meanwhile, he has been deprived of his residence with no notice, and without a hearing. So much for not depriving a person of his life, liberty or property without due process.
- She can also file for divorce and interim support and at the same time, freeze her husband's assets. The man suddenly finds himself paying, potentially through wage execution, a court ordered child support and alimony number, without anything resembling an actual jury trial, and certainly without regard to fault. The speed with which all this can happen is mind-boggling. Actually getting the divorce to trial, and getting a settlement will take many months, and the wife will likely be in no hurry to move this process along, as the judge might order her to begin the process of selling the marital house, or reduce the emergency support order that he issued when she first filed, which may be higher than the court would eventually discover was required.
- If the man falls behind in his payments, whether due to unemployment, financial difficulty, or just plain a stubborn sense that he is being enslaved or peonized, the full weight of the courts come down on him, garnishing his income with the state taking in many cases up to 65% (this is the NJ number). The non-payer's assets (accounts, car, boat, house) will be seized, (or liens will be taken out against them) and he may have his license revoked and be thrown into jail, all before there is even a hearing on his ability to pay.
In each of these cases, the assumption of the court is that the lip-service to due process (the man's right to a trial) can be taken care of at some future date. It is my contention that justice delayed is justice denied. Men are regularly taken to the cleaners by the system, and if the court ever recognizes an error, it usually only corrects the inequity going forward (ignoring the months of suffering, loss of home, freedom and assets, legal fees for himself and his wife, and any other overpayments that occurred in the past), mostly because the wife "doesn't have the ability or liability to pay restitution" for all this. ...Somehow these issues were not considerations when the system was punishing the man. And when the court does in the odd instance recognize an inequity and award the man some restitution for overpayments, his ex-wife has likely spent this money already, and it will never be collected back. (Good luck getting the courts to respond to this full court finding of debt anywhere near as agressively as they did when the husband was alleged to be a deadbeat, if they act at all.)
Similarly, men are expected to be psychic. They are supposed to know that they owe child-support and alimony from the moment of separation, and should be paying it, even though no court finding exists showing what, or even that they need to pay. If they do not pay, they will likely be hit with a huge bill when the divorce finalizes, -and they cannot wait for wage execution to kick in, because the lump owed once penalties are added in may be unpayable. Effectively, men are treated as having a liability whose magnitude the courts decide after the fact.
Hmmm, doesn't this remind you of ex post facto laws? Doesn't the idea of finding people liable and punishing them first, and trying them later rub your sense of due process the wrong way? Sure it does, but that's the divorce court world for you, all backwards, deciding your guilt or innocence after punishing you. And one of the reasons that this kind of behavior is supposed to be prohibited by The Constitution of the United States is that it is very difficult for a court or any ruling body to admit that it did the wrong thing after the fact, and very hard to properly restore rights and provide restitution to people after they have been punished and had their rights taken away.
Simply put, Family Law is a horror show of unearthly proportions. Welcome to the Garden.
-M(The last image is from the online Artchive)
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
If I had one message to give you today, it is that your job is not to weigh the parties' rights as you might be inclined to do as having been private practitioners, Your job is not to become concerned about all the constitutional rights of the man that you're violating as you grant a restraining order. Throw him out on the street, give him the clothes on his back and tell him, 'See ya' around.' (from the NJ Law Journal, quoted at ANCPR)
Was this a fluke? Are men's rights just ignored for politics? Nancy Kessler, chief of juvenile and family services for the AOC, also responsible for the training of judges, is quoted in the same source as saying in a training session for judges:
...people [judges] are told to interpret this law broadly in order to maximize protection for the victim. So if anybody ever came back at you and said, 'Gee, that's a real reach in terms of probable cause,' you have a legislatively mandated response which is, 'I erred on the side of caution for the victim'
And the civil court does a very similar thing in its other everyday decisions - they intentionally err on the side of the victim (read 'the woman'), and figure that if they ever get overturned in review, they have done the politically expedient and defensible thing. The facts just don't matter that much. Does this sound harsh? No, it is what NJ Civil judges are taught, as evidenced by this exchange quoted from the same training session where Judge Russel was teaching above:
Unidentified Municipal Judge: "You seem to be saying to grant every order."
Russell (quickly): "Yeah, that's what I seem to be saying."
But it's not just New Jersey, many states have similar issues, Judge Robert S. Smith of New York State's Court of Appeals is cited in the New York Law Journal as indicating that our legal system defines divorce in terms of a 'moneyed' and 'non-moneyed' spouse, but if we make the 'moneyed' spouse the woman, the law either doesn't make sense, or is enforced in a different way:
I have a strong suspicion . . . that things get very different when the husband is the non-moneyed spouse, I read a case where the wife was a dental hygienist and the husband said, 'That's marital property.' The court said, 'You're right, it is marital property. You are getting 7 percent. (via silentmajority.info)
Similarly, Justice Sondra Miller of the NY appealate division is quoted in the same source as saying that she regularly hears that: "As far as custody is concerned, you are disadvantaged if you are male. You are not going to get a fair shake from the court system. As far as child support, it is draconian"
She's not saying anything that those of us in the system didn't know already.
Update: Click here to see comments on Nancy Kessler's quote above in a later post entitled "I is for Invisible Elephant".
Monday, August 15, 2005
Indeed, government is most intrusive into family life when marriages fail. If you don't believe it, try getting married, having kids and then getting a divorce. If you are a non-custodial parent, government will tell you when you can see your children; whether you can pick them up after school or not, and if so, on what days; whether you can authorize medical care for your children; and how much money you must spend on your kids. By preventing marital breakup in the first place — not by making divorce harder to get, but by increasing the odds of a stable marriage by increasing marital health and happiness — one obviates the need for such intrusive government.
I use the word ‘vague’ in reference to Mr. Horn’s understanding because Mr. Horn gives no hint that he grasps the full extent of the family court’s ability (and likelihood) to intrude into the life of the support payer (read ‘the man’). He gives no indication of his understanding of court abilities such as the ability to garnish salary, impute income, levy exorbitant and clearly unpayable fines, place liens on property, violate the privacy of family members and friends, and deny parental rights – with trial and the review of a jury an afterthought to these powers and abilities (where any effective review is available at all).
But still, Mr. Horn’s comments come as a welcome sign that there is at least some understanding at HHS of the plight of the support-payer under the current feminist regime in place in the family court system. An understanding that also gets minor mention in ‘Restoring Fathers to Families and Communities’, a study cited in the HHS’s fatherhood initiative, which notes that denial of access to children, and draconian (my word) family court laws are often a factor behind the generation of ‘Deadbeat Dads’. Other studies on the HHS site also take up the ‘Deadbeat Dad’ phenomenon, and how to some degree it is generated by the justice system itself, but HHS’s programs are not about providing guidance to legislators and judicial groups, instead they are programmed to educate men into being better ‘dads’ and focused on the low-income father, with little comprehension how the current legal system can bankrupt and destroy even an upper-middle-class father, and little understanding that most deadbeat dads may be less in need of education than they are of liberation and equal treatment under law. Still, there are some very welcome signs that HHS and it’s partners are beginning to recognize that there is a bigger issue at hand, - signs might make a bigger impression on yours truly if we could find, anywhere mentioned on the HHS website, the expression “Men’s Rights”.
I chose this name for this blog, because I felt that our judicial system and culture currently act across the board against men in a way that must be named what it is; evil. [Stripping over 1/4 of the population (divorced men) of their assets, and forcing them into indentured servitude, perhaps for the rest of their lives, and separating them from their children (the usual outcome of a custody suit in the western world) cannot be considered anything else.]
Malevolent also contains the word 'male' but, much as feminists might assume that our Roman elders knew that 'maleness = evil', in fact the word derives from the Old French masle, which in turn came from the from Latin masculus, a root for the word 'masculine'.
So the word 'malevolent' coincidentally contains both topics that I wish to address in this blog - the Malevolence of the system - and the group that our government and culture is targeting that I am concerned with – Males.
In another post, (this is the reason for the 'Part I' in the title of this post) I will sum up the ways that our culture and our government stigmatizes and persecutes men, but now I need to begin earning the paycheck that the state will mince for various types of ‘support’ -for forwarding to an ex-spouse who earns significantly more than I do.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
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.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
And there is more. Theoretically, the law requires that you should have been paying alimony SINCE YOUR SEPARATION. That’s right. Not since the divorce, not even since the filing, since you were separated. So let’s hope you were taking really good care of your Soon-To-Be-Ex during your separation, because otherwise, once they have calculated your alimony and child support numbers (which may be based on an income much higher than your average during the separation), they will multiply it by the number of years you were separated, and subtract what you actually paid, if you can document it, and the remainder is more that you owe. I assume here that you didn’t overpay, because with our alimony system that is a really hard thing to do. But if you did, don’t expect it back. It’s a one-way road from you to her.
This ‘length of marriage’ is yet another example of what I think of as the upside-down nature of divorce – the way that divorce turns normal values, responsibilities, and reward systems on their heads. In this case, the law encourages the man in a troubled marriage to get out, and get out fast. It says to the married man: “Just think! If you bail in the first year or two, you might avoid alimony entirely.” Certainly one should never stay an extra year to try and work things out (not even ‘for the kids’) especially if one is approaching the magical 10 year mark. No, the law teaches us, we have to get those papers filed ASAP. Shoot your marriage in the head quick, before goes rabid, before it bites. And let’s not talk about those poor fools living separately, and thinking that they have dodged a bullet by avoiding divorce. They are really in legal free-fall, liable to be sued at any moment for an ongoing financial liability that could last the rest of their lives.
In short, Mother Jersey says: “File divorce soon, and leave before they go bad, or else ever after, you’ll wish that you had.” …Thanks Ma. Pity no one put that on the back of my marriage certificate.
First - you are married and start thinking about divorce, like it might be a good idea. I'd tell you you were wrong, but then, I don't know your situation. Anyway, out looks better than in, and you likely get...
Separated: Separation is where you divide your stuff from your partner's more or less informally, and make some arrangements for the kids to not be traumatized too much. You think you have done a good thing, and perhaps you have, but New Jersey thinks you are still married. New Jersey does not recognize separation. You wouldn't think that was so terrible, but it is. You may live for many years in relative peace, being separated, and seeing to your ex's basic needs, and think that all is well. It is not. You just haven't hit the bottom yet. What happens, eventually, is that someone, for some reason, decides that they need to formalize this separation with a divorce, either for re-marriage, or for some other reason. So you....
Seek a Mediated Divorce: Guess what. Mediators are all family court lawyers. They are all invested in the system, and think that it is right, and the system says that the wage-earner has to pay through the nose, so the mediator will likely give you a solution that is as bad or worse than one you would get in court. Your soon-to-be-ex, who is normally a wonderful person, I am sure, starts thinking about the many, many years that she will have to support herself, without any help, and how nice it would be to have that extra money that the Mediator is hinting at between his words. The mediator probably keeps mentioning your kids in the process, trying to make his skullduggery sound highbrow. So you stop going to the mediator, and sensing blood in the water, your soon-to-be-ex (stbx) files for...
Divorce and Motions: Besides the basic divorce your ex will file for a motion to freeze your assets, and impose an interim agreement to see to her support. They may ask to have this taken directly out of your pay by wage execution. Watch out, this 'interim' agreement is certainly not going to be in your favor, but you will be told that it will be fine because the divorce will move along quickly, and this is just an interim thing, and if the final divorce goes more your way, you can get any overpayments back. Repeat these words to yourself: I WILL NEVER SEE ANY MONEY BACK. That is fact one. Fact two: THIS IS GOING TO TAKE A LONG TIME. Be sure that this interim agreement is one that you will be delighted with (or as much as possible) a year or two from now. Cases can and do get delayed that long. Oh, and here is where you first get to enjoy the fun of legal fees. Theoretically the spouse that earns more always pays the other's legal fees, or a good portion thereof. Unless the spouse that earns more is female (sorry, speaking from experience here) in which case, some other excuse will be trumped up to lump the fees on the man. Next comes....
Discovery: You have to basically strip your financial, psychological, and general person and display it for your stbx's lawyer to see. You may find out things about your stbx in this process that surprise you. You may discover, for instance, that she has been happily misusing your credit since the separation... THIS IS VERY COMMON. And if your stbx has already done this once, she has probably done it more than once, and will again. More on this in another post. Next the court orders you to go to 'Court Ordered Mediation'. This is a total waste of time, and doesn't deserve a separate heading... Following that, you get to enjoy:
Certifications: This is where you say why you think you shouldn't be enslaved, and where your stbx makes up a lot of really imaginative and horrible stuff about you. At the end of your certification is a statement that says you will be punished if you lie. Don't you dare lie, but be confident that your stbx will never be punished if she does. Next comes:
Pre-Settlement: Oh, the joy. A group of bloodthirsty divorce lawyers, once again, all bought into the system, gather to review your preliminary filing, and your stbx's preliminary filing. The point of Pre-Settlement is for the panel to tell you what the very busy judge would likely decide in a full trial, so that you don't waste her time and your money. Most people would prefer to know what kind of cancer they had right away, so I suppose this is better than having to wait for trial, but not as good as living in a state that doesn't believe in male enslavement. At some point around here, your lawyers start putting together a final agreement, but before that there is:
A meeting at the bench: Turns out the judge has lots of time after all, and has read your certifications, and that judges like to meet with the lawyers before any agreement is set in stone and say what they think they would have ruled. This is usually a very scary moment, because if the judge says something more bloodthirsty than the pre-settlement panel did (and the judge is likely to, just think about how she got this job), your stbx may want to revisit any settlement that you thought you had reached. After this horror, where the judge tells you that she would have recommended far worse, you are left to finish negotiation, and if you can agree without trial, you get to come back into court for the actual...
Divorce: The judge will ask you at length if this wasn't the best thing you ever did in your life, and if you don't love this agreement. You have to say yes, or go through a trial, and have the judge do the horrible things she already explained in her bench meeting, and pay more legal fees (yours and hers). Needless to say, you nod violently in the affirmative, while expressing your agreement that the 'wax fruit' is yummy, sorry, that the 'Voluntary Execution' clause is correct. You probably celebrate that evening that this thing is over. It isn't, because people often spend more than they did on their divorce, on their...
Post Divorce Motions: OK, I can't tell you what will happen here, but if you made money, or you have bonuses, or if you ever change jobs or get married or just live, you will likely run up against your ex. She has interests that are not yours, and wants to stop you from living freely, and take any new income that you are making, or force you to continue to paying the same alimony and child support that you were before if you happen to lose your job or have some other unfortunate circumstance comes about. And if you did remarry, you will discover that (because you live in a community property state) the courts believe that half or more of the assets that your new spouse has brought to the marriage, and half or more of her income is available to satisfy any judgments against you, and that her finances are now entirely exposed. Your lawyers will tell you that this cannot happen, but it does. In divorce law, you are assumed guilty until proven innocent, and it is always possible that you hid funds in your spouse's accounts, and once and if your funds are/were co-mingled, her funds are 'tainted' - considered community property. Enjoy these post-divorce actions. You will likely have several of them, and irregardless of your relative incomes, if you are male, you will pay for most of the legal fees generated by them.
I guess in brief summary that covers the Divorce process here in NJ, at a high level, without touching on parenting 'agreements'... Have a nice day now, if you can, and if you have a workable marriage, thank God, or your lucky stars, or especially your spouse.
It always bothered me as a young child when while visiting someone, you would see, placed like an offering for you to enjoy, a bowl of fruit or a dish of candy… …and upon attempting to sample same, you would discover, to your horror, it was wax, or plastic, or paste, or some such. I suppose we have all had similar experiences with things that aren’t what they seem (our first marriages, perhaps). One of the boilerplate clauses that we all have to kowtow to in divorce is much like that, one that is usually known as ‘Voluntary Execution’.
Voluntary Execution. You can sense in its name that this is not a good thing, can’t you? Voluntary Execution. It is not entirely dissimilar to the ‘Work Will Make You Free’ pronouncement executed (there’s that word again) over the entrance to Auschwitz. (Please, if you don’t know what Auschwitz is, or was, go look it up. (Try here... I can wait...) Where was I – Oh, right ‘Voluntary Execution’, not entirely unlike the false pronouncement ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’, ‘Voluntary Execution’ is a slogan which in divorce you must pass under and make lip service to (required to pay lip service to BY LAW, I should add), but which is fundamentally a lie:
The Wife and Husband each acknowledge that each is entering into this Agreement of her and his own accord and without coercion or pressure of any kind; that all the provisions of this Agreement, as well as all questions pertinent thereto, have been fully and satisfactorily explained to them; that each has given due consideration to such provisions and questions, and understands them clearly; that the settlement embodied in this Agreement is in all respects acceptable to each, being consistent with the income and assets of the parties, and ample for their reasonable needs; and that accordingly each consents to all the provisions hereof.
It sounds bad enough when you read it, but I don’t think the true horror of this pithy wee paragraph sinks in until much later, until you discover how tightly wrapped you are, until you find yourself drowning, and discover that the court system is placing additional burdens upon you, instead of helping you out of the deep water you are in. Let me add at this point that every New Jersey divorce must have a paragraph like this, for good (hm bad word, howabout ‘for a logical’) reason.
p.s. My apologies to anyone offended by the concentration camp reference. Support-paying individuals in NJ are not treated anywhere near as badly, nor are as restricted in their freedoms, nor are as likely to die as the concentration camp victims. But we have been singled out and deprived of rights, and the proceeds of our work, partly due to our gender, and we are very persecuted, this persecution lasting often until our deaths, and attaching to our estates after us.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Woman (to lawyer, in tense voice): “He is threatening to quit his second job! He can’t do that, can he? Can we stop him?”
Female Lawyer: “Don’t worry, we will take care of all of that…”
(The two woman pass out of earshot… a moment later, a stressed man arrives and begins pacing…)
Man (to me): “This is hell. Divorce is hell. No one should ever get married, you know?”
Me: “Hey, why do you think I’m here?”
I suspect that the man went with the woman, but I cannot know. But the entire exchange is very illustrative of what the court system does to men today, I think.
My best to all who come here...