Thursday, January 8, 2009

Men v. Women: Who does better in a divorce?

While the walk down the aisle ends in marital bliss for many couples, for an equal number the end of the aisle is a place far, far away from happily ever after. People who divorce often do so in eager anticipation of reclaiming their lost independence, forgotten autonomy and an identity lost during the course of the marriage.

Upon divorce, a couple's marital property, property acquired by the two during the course of their marriage, is divided up according to the applicable state law. Parties may divide and settle their property 50/50 or in some other arrangement depending upon the given laws. The hope is that the parties are treated fairly.

But even in a situation where all the assets are divided 50/50, divorced women may find that a seemingly fair settlement is still far from equitable. Women are typically awarded custody of the children. Because our predominant social values suggest that children are best situated with their mothers, women often do the lion's share of child rearing in divorced families, even in shared custody cases.

Any parent who has ever fought a custody battle knows that child care responsibilities are a privilege, not a burden. Unfortunately, most divorce settlements fail to account for the damaged future earning potential of a woman with child care responsibilities. Since mothers usually take some time away from their careers, and since women still earn slightly less than men, it is fair to say that most women, even prior to divorce, have lower earning power than their male spouses.

The problem of lower earning power is exacerbated by child care responsibilities. They reduce a woman's available work hours, thereby making it more difficult for her to increase her income through promotions, client cultivation and so forth. This marked reduced earning capacity is not factored into a divorce, since settlements focus on dividing marital property.

Ultimately, the overall economic quality of a man's life, based on earnings and amount spent on living expenses, increases after his divorce. He continues to earn more but bears fewer family expenses. The overall economic quality of a woman's life, post-divorce, decreases.

Of course, both parents are expected and legally required to contribute to the cost of raising their children, but the law still does not provide a mechanism to compensate a woman for the earning potential she has lost based on her decisions to marry and have children. Women often opt for careers that they feel will be more conducive to motherhood, working lower paying jobs because of the fewer hours they require.

A difficulty in reforming marital property laws to compensate these women lies in the fact that many women, even in today's modern world, make career decisions based almost entirely on their family plans. Thus, a college professor who might have become a successful businesswoman had her family plans been different, has no way to show a court her lost earning potential. Her decision to take a lower paying job cannot be weighed by the court, since there is no real evidence of material economic damage.

The objective of a divorce court is to give each party what he or she fairly deserves based on their earnings during marriage. It is next to impossible to factor the broad social pressures that shape women's career decisions into a given divorce settlement.

Legal scholars must either find a way to assess the lost earning power of the female spouse, or women as a collective must find a way to have their families and make honest career decisions too. The Medieval Period may be long gone from our history, but there are still some remnants of the dark age of divorce law at work in our courts today.

The Author: Corie Lynn Rosen


  1. I defintely think men end up better. With custody of our 3 kids and $700 per month in child support, I still have a hard time making ends meet. I spend more than $700 per month on food, clothes, etc. for our children.

  2. It is not true that a woman's economic quality of life decreases post divorce. I recently filed for divorce after 28 years of marriage. I've been unemployed the past 2 years and my wife has a job earning well over $80,000.00/year. The court saw fit to give the house and a large portion of my retirement fund and 401k to my wife. She was allowed to keep all of her retirement fund and her 403b. She was allowed to lie in court about her marital assets.

    She reported assets of $120,000.00 and that amount was found to be under reported by more than $140,000.00 and the court did nothing about this perjury. The judge, my attorney, and her attorney were partners in this assault on my assets. A marital asset simply translated is 'MALE ASSETS'. My attorney did nothing to represent my rights during the divorce. He was never prepared when we went to court and he never sent a single sheet of paper to me regarding the courts rulings.

    My wife’s attorney went so far as to ask the judge to grant power to his relative to sign my name on checks and quit claim deed for a home and car with jointly owned by my wife and me. This relative was given authority to embezzle an additional $49,000.00 from my retirement account to be given to a friend of her attorney under the pretense that he would pay my daughter's college tuition. There is absolutely no legally legitimate reason for those actions other than extortion.

    I paid the lion’s share of our living expenses over the 28 years of our marriage. She made a good salary over that 28 year period which she was to save for children’s college and our future retirement. This money was hidden with support of her attorney and no discovery of any of this money was provided to my attorney and me.

    The system is unfairly stacked in a woman’s favor. Both of our children are grown so I ask why the house went to her and why her assets were not made available to me as my assets were made available to her. If most men were made aware of this unfair practice which is systemically supported by the judicial system marriage as an institution would suffer greatly. After my experience I most certainly will never marry again. The institution a marriage is patently unfair to men on every level.

  3. It is certainly not surprising that this article was written by a woman. Less surprising still is that the author fails to account for or even recognize her own gender bias. Men tend to lose everything in divorce. They lose the house, the car, custody of the children, their spouse, their family etc. while women tend to keep all those things. Is it really any wonder that 75%-80% of all divorce actions today are brought by women? If it were really as bad for women as the author suggests, women would act rationally (a stretch here, I know!) and file for less then half of all divorces. And further, if the court system actually saw that women would be that much worse off as a group after divorce, why would they continue to grant full legal custody of the children to 80%-90% of all women. The reality, as evidenced by the statistics, do not add up I am afraid. The sad truth is, of course, that everyone loses in divorce. Both parents lose. The kids lose. Society loses. Only the attorneys win. And many of them win big! That divorce has become a multi-billion dollar industry is a sad, sad testament to the predatory nature of the family lasw business. Hopefully mediated divorces will continue to grow in popularity.

  4. may good can't beleive my ars. it may be brought on by women because their spouse cheat, and never wants to come home please men do not lose everything ,but taking kids away from the mother is wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. that is why the statistics show that 70% of women are the cheating spouse in a infadelity case. while the Man is away working in a war zone she is playing. what so called christian married woman goes to bars and "chats" with men with her single female friends. no matter how you dress it up, no matter how you make it walk, even if you teach it to speak spanish. a duck is a duck.
    i agree The sad truth is, of course, that everyone loses in divorce. Both parents lose. The kids lose. Society loses. Only the attorneys win. and taking YOUR kids is right if she is corrupting or mistreating them.

  6. Most of the cases goes in favor of women. If any not then they are considered as standard references.

  7. I agree with this article because such is the case with me, but I am not sure about the "validity." Is this based on a survey, or just an opinion?

  8. Divorce doesn't have to be that traumatic. It happens all the time that couples initiate massacre between eachother and both of them wants to win the fight, no mercy. There is no need to to do that.

  9. I have to disagree with all the men who think that women get the better end of the deal in a divorce. Just divorced TODAY finally after two/2 years of separation,bc in SC you have to have at least 1 year. We were married for just 3 months almost to the day and then he decided to go back to drinking one day and gave me a bloody nose when I tried to wake him for dinner. While I fed our 6 month old(ours prior to the marriage), He awoke in a rage and after our altercation he took the child in his drunken stupor and drove off. The police couldn't find him, so when he showed back up around 3 in the morning I had no choice but to let him back in of course especially bc I was worried about the baby. But bc I let him back in the house I couldn't file a restraining order or when we went to court it was denied, the judge said I must not be afraid of him if I let him back in the house.Didn't matter if he laid his hands on me or not. The day Im at the police station and my grandmother is at our house watching the baby he, his father and his grandfather break down the back door to get into the house(which by law he can do bc its his house) I filed for an emergency hearing for child custody and bc of my work schedule and his the judge order we both live in the house to keep the baby in his home for stability. 2weeks I was to stay in the home and 2 weeks he was to stay in the home. By now I have tape across the backdoor to keep the cold out and am sleeping on an air mattress. Long story short he has full custody now and I only get to see him every other weekend. There is so much more pain to this story though...

  10. Me. part 1
    Please Justice is supposed to be the purpose of the law, which is not happening. Men do have it rougher. The application of Justice is not measured or overlooked. I am not complaining about my ex, just stating the facts.
    0. no precedding arguement. my wife said she made an error being married a third time and refused to be married in any way "from day one".
    refused to leave hosuehold and stayed because her sister deserted her marriage and was living at her house avoiding the authorities until she could qualify for DSS and services while her husband faced foreclosure and unemployemnt and could not fight from the northwest US to SC.
    1. she deserted- left by using a lie.
    2. she took money inttenced for household for family living- stolen while I was at work and used for cosmetics and clothes.
    3. children belong to two parents: thats GOD's order - you cannot make one without both partrents. But courts award women the rights in an effort to award them funding for children.
    4. I did as much house work, did all the educating (more qualified in art, science, music, computers and legal and religios philosophy.
    5.SHe refused to drive or work or contribute to the home. I was the sole provider after she declared she wouldnt work or drive-day 1.
    6. she regularly told me how she'd take my child and "use" the sytem to make me "pay her", and she "knew" how to do it..
    7. Nightly consultations with other women on how to get more from the courts, while they discussed Judges by name (to write leeters too)and had friends in the family court, as well as clerk of courts office willing to help out.
    8. Awared custody and support "without a trial"- simply deserted and stayed away 1 year.
    9.Men have contempt leveied upon them, sometime despite paying everything and being on time.
    (see demarco vs. demarco --sc. its on the web)
    there is much anecdiatal about the unfair use and law cases showing the impropriety. Women have no over sight to include how they spend the support. or whether theyve turrned support into alimony.
    10. Judges who want to prove a point since they have issues and dont review cases thouroughly.
    Judge here in atlanta turned in by mistress- as he stated he liked to punish "dead beat dads" espeically the "blacks". No oversight - all his cases are being reviewed. But what of the those who don't say it out loud.
    11. With 365 days to choose from- judge evicts man from his home in front of children on christmas day. 12. wife paid nothing into home- she cheated- weeks later children and wife involved with new boyfriend and "gun fire" ex wife still has custody. Wife wants pay for cleaning house- 1 strip linoleum and kitchen for her use. MAle cleaned everything as well. Want ot award like 40 hr job. She works 30min on floor and her/ masterbedroom.(my house- i live in 6x6 area on floor. I cleans floors as well and vac since she says her hands are damaged by carple tunnel.
    13. soldier vists daughter on weekend to get warrant for arrest. Later told "oops" we made a mistake. Regularly done-lost payments- payments held until later dates to encourage a contempt violatiion, far enough apart hard to see pattern. 15. woman planning out letter writing campaign to judge for themselves as well as daughters asking for more money. This doen't happen to all people so it leaves the opening to say co -incidence, no apology, lost wages, jail time- OOp's. but you still have to pay the bail or the fines or court fees. OOps' is all you get.

  11. part 2
    This may not be you all but I know what I've seen, experienced and watched since I was a child.. I slept on the floor all years of marriage on cement(I ate 1 meal a day for over 10 years still eating 1 meal a day. My central heat and air non functional, i've beeen without both for 2 years.
    lost phone due to no payment- didn't buy clothes or seek medial attan for personal -. NOw broken and problematic teeeth. High Blood pressure-over 200. Glases mysteriously dissapeared when she left. CAn't see well, drive only at day. never going anywhere other than work, groceries or being summoned to court.(2 + years)
    After support and no division of bills I am near destituion and told if I lose job( I am a contractor - would would pray for a long term job. . Spent all my 401k to keep family safe.
    . accused of contempt - or not wanting to pay less than 100 when they were in error. despiteI did all the driving , all the working, commute and work, gone 12 plus hours daily. tried at least being friendly. cooked, cleaned, and everything for self . All the yard work to be followed by excursion everyweekend despite our financial status. 3-5 hours sleep if that nightly.Spend all time with son- while she watched TV. MOney in thousands dissapeared when , i lost job, and had to borrow to keep home over heads. Things can happen to anyone- but when you measure (literally) yopu will find the number no where near 50-50 in terms of equla treatment. Just like with racism- one person gets a differnt deal and they go see its fair to everyione. this is old tactics.
    A yearly "round up" looking mostly for people who can't pay, experienced losses, act of GOD that would change things in a marital home. lost your job- prepare for the state to pay more to house you-. You lose your job and home- now you have no visituaion, and child cannot visit. child see you in this poverty. Your health is failing- I collapsed at work- couldnt aford doctors visit- emergency room- more fees .. Visitaion is in another state . round trip in a weekend. Hotel room or travel. More money.wife never asked to produce anything- no oversighht, no threats of imprisonment. They have full time gov't almost un "firable" jobs. those who have perm jops and good pay holding employemtn lording over those who don't,(which is not in the persons control) over thier heads for continual if not repetitve jailing because the "JOB left you". Equal alright.
    oh theres even more I can cite-
    Women should get the children? GOD gave Christ a father despite, he was the father. What does that tell you about his order. Children need both parents. and they both should do as much( evenly yoked- even burdened).Marriage is a oral contract - man leaves marriage hes a fiend ,its called kidnapping if he takes his own child with him. My wife deserted and took child -no questions- despite I was paying her support all along- although unemployed too.. And no access to child. Though I did nothing to merit the treatment and the those who simply turn thier heads and keep talking not to acknowledge I have rights or I am smart enough to be correct by principle.