Ottawa Divorce .com Forums


User CP

New posts

Advertising

  Ottawa Divorce .com Forums > Main Category > Political Issues

Political Issues This forum is for discussing the political aspects of divorce: reform to divorce laws, men's rights, women's rights, injustices in the divorce system, etc.

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
  #1 (permalink)  
Old 05-01-2006, 11:32 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Calgary
Posts: 281
Divorcemanagement has a spectacular aura aboutDivorcemanagement has a spectacular aura about
Default Spousal Support - Why It Matters

I closed a previous thread about child support because it had morphed into a discussion about spousal support. There were some very heated exchanges which are always a good thing because they help each of us understand why we feel so strongly about the issue.

Some people believe that it is a lifetime pension and some don't - generally those who oppose spousal support oppose it because they often don't recognize the value of the contributions of stay-at-home parents to a spouse's career.

I deal with spousal support a lot and I have heard probably every conceivable objection to it. Some are legitimate and some are downright unrealistic. So I thought it might be helpful to share an experience I had with a couple.

It was a 23 year marriage - the children were now grown. Mom had stayed home for the first 10 years raising the children and then worked part-time for the remaining 10 years. Dad worked in a very high profile job and had an affair, thus ending the marriage.

When the marriage ended, mom went to work full time as an administrative clerk and dad fought her tooth and nail on spousal. He suggested that she wasn't entitled to spousal support because she was living "rent free" in the now paid off matrimonial home. Mom rightly suggested that she wasn't living rent free because she owned half of the house. (A valid point, wouldn't you agree?)

Dad was unprepared to pay spousal support beyond 3 years - a completely unrealistic time frame. It looked like both parties were going to be headed off to court when they decided to give mediation a try.

In the mediation process, dad was adament - HE didn't "force" her to stay home and raise the kids and he didn't agree to it... why should he be penalized for mom's choice to stay home. Mom took great offense, so I suggested that it would be difficult to justify not paying spousal support were he to litigate the matter based solely on the fact that he didn't force mom to stay home and that he never agreed to something that was defacto regardless of the circumstances surrounding the decision for mom to stay home.

So we looked at his lump sum offer that he had now put on the table - $80K - "leave me alone and never ask me for a cent again." I went to my flip board and asked him how much money he felt that child care was worth. He couldn't come up with a number - largely because it was a traditional marriage and he worked 15 hour days.

We decided to do some math based on a $10.00/hour day and 40 hours/week that a child care provider in a daycare might be earning. Roughly $19,200/year X 15 years that she was home with the kids= $288,000 compared to the $80,000 that he was offering to her. So in effect, he was offering her roughly $5333 for each year that she worked or $2.77/hour.

This helped dad recognize that his offer aside from being offensive to mom, was completely unrealistic and not consistent with the spousal support guidelines. So mom suggested that had they put the kids in daycare, it could be argued that they would have paid the $288,000 for 15 years worth of child care in it's various incarnations - from daycare to afterschool care to day camps, etc.

Dad simply felt that he shouldn't have to pay because he viewed it as his money rather than compensation. Unfortunately, we had to do a cost benefit analysis of litigation based on a less than 50% chance that he would be successful and dad realized that he wasn't a gambling man. Opted to do a hybrid approach of spousal/month and a lump sum.

I asked dad if he felt that mom's contribution to raising the children, caring for the home and feeding the family was worth only $2.00/hour - "that's about $5.00/hour less than you would be paying a nanny or a housekeeper - do you really want to go to court with this?" I said.

Reason prevailed and an agreement was reached. Dad was resentful of having to pay but realized that he had to pay lest he go to court and be forced to pay.

Moral of the story - stay-at-home parents are undervalued in our society. One need only look at the furor over the Conservative governments proposed child care package to see that how it polarizes people. I am a realist and spousal support, aside from being compensatory, must also recognize the limitations that primarily women face when re-entering the workforce after having stayed home with the kids for a lengthy period.

I have heard every argument against spousal support - and save for short term marriages, it is a necessity for parents who stayed home and lost out on opportunities they would otherwise have received. It's not enough to argue that you never agreed that they should stay home - that they stayed home implies that it was consentual and as such, spousal support should be paid.

I would be interested in hearing from people who are receiving spousal support before the spousal support guidelines came out as to whether they think the guidelines are helpful or harmful - I have heard they are undervaluing mom's contribution from many women.

Thoughts?
Reply With Quote
  #2 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2006, 12:01 AM
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 44
beltane is on a distinguished road
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divorcemanagement
I closed a previous thread about child support because it had morphed into a discussion about spousal support. There were some very heated exchanges which are always a good thing because they help each of us understand why we feel so strongly about the issue.
Please... I am not a newbie to forums... that discussion was nowhere NEAR heated. And if it was "healthy" as you say above, why put a stop to it?

Quote:
Previously Posted by Divorcemanagement (emphasis mine) re: Spousal Support - I am a realist and I have yet to meet anyone, male or female who is going to turn down free money.
Quote:
Divorcemanagement also wrote (emphasis mine):I am a realist and spousal support, aside from being compensatory, must also recognize the limitations that primarily women face when re-entering the workforce after having stayed home with the kids for a lengthy period. {snip} I have heard every argument against spousal support - and save for short term marriages, it is a necessity for parents who stayed home and lost out on opportunities they would otherwise have received. {snip} Thoughts?
Well Sean, to be honest... my thoughts are... I am concerned about your ability to moderate AND participate in a forum discussion without bias. I mean no disrespect to you, I am simply stating my feelings about what has happened in these "free money" threads over the past couple of days.

Plus, I feel you have yet to really address your original remarks when you referred to spousal support as "free money". Is that still your opinion? Were you perhaps mistaken in that opinion? Did you simply use the wrong words? Have you changed your mind now, or do you still feel that spousal support is "free money"?

Personally, I feel as though you are trying to dance around the very important issue that some of the women in this forum are feeling censored and are also feeling that our opinions and concerned are not being equally supported here.

I hope I have worded my concerns politely... I sincerely would like to know what you have to say...
Reply With Quote
  #3 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2006, 12:04 AM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 860
Grace has a spectacular aura aboutGrace has a spectacular aura about
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divorcemanagement
I asked dad if he felt that mom's contribution to raising the children, caring for the home and feeding the family was worth only $2.00/hour - "that's about $5.00/hour less than you would be paying a nanny or a housekeeper - do you really want to go to court with this?" I said.

Reason prevailed and an agreement was reached. Dad was resentful of having to pay but realized that he had to pay lest he go to court and be forced to pay.

Thoughts?
And your proud of this as a divorce mediator??? I'm now thinking the courts are a better route to go. I was always a great believer in mediate instead of litigate but your completely changing my believes.
Reply With Quote
  #4 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2006, 12:51 AM
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 2
2ndpartner is on a distinguished road
Default sounds sensible

I am a very new person so I am not sure if I can comment here. But I like what the moderator said.

In a long marriage where the wife didn't get or have the chance to work and earn income for herself it's really hard to go out and work and support yourself after.

But the moderator also talks about short marriages I do not understand how those ones work.

I know a woman who is trained in a job that pays well, was only working part time for the last year before her marriage ended and fulltime before that. And now just because her almost exhusband makes a lot more then she does she thinks she should get alimony and not have to work until her kids are grown up (high school) I do not think that is very fair at all. She is young and can work but she just will not. I think women like her make it harder for people who really need or deserve support to get it.
Reply With Quote
  #5 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2006, 01:21 AM
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Ontario
Posts: 3,944
logicalvelocity has a spectacular aura aboutlogicalvelocity has a spectacular aura aboutlogicalvelocity has a spectacular aura about
Send a message via Yahoo to logicalvelocity
Default

Spousal support eligibility is fact driven and the roles of each party during the relationship. One thing is certain for spousal support to occur is that one party has NEED and the other party has MEANS.
Reply With Quote
  #6 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2006, 01:30 AM
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 83
workingthruit is on a distinguished road
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by logicalvelocity
Spousal support eligibility is fact driven and the roles of each party during the relationship. One thing is certain for spousal support to occur is that one party has NEED and the other party has MEANS.
My question is - what constitues need?
I am being quite sincere when I ask this.

If the recipient would have their budget completely covered by their own income + child support, is there still a need?

What if their bugetary needs are not covered, but the payor doesn't have any money left after the child support is paid?

What if, and I know this sounds impossible, the recipient's budget is covered with money coming in, and the payor has nothing to spare after bills are paid and child support goes out?

Is need vs. means the most important test?
Reply With Quote
  #7 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2006, 02:03 AM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Ottawa
Posts: 225
Jenny is on a distinguished road
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by workingthruit

What if their bugetary needs are not covered, but the payor doesn't have any money left after the child support is paid?

What if, and I know this sounds impossible, the recipient's budget is covered with money coming in, and the payor has nothing to spare after bills are paid and child support goes out?

Is need vs. means the most important test?
Okay many times there isn't the means to allow for spousal after child support is being paid. Just a fact. It happens in a lot of cases. The standard of living will often go around just by the fact that you have to maintain 2 homes with the same family cash.

And secondly people's budgets are different people have different priorities. People have different bills.

Some people might see going out to eat a basic need , others a total luxery.I might choose to live in a nicer house and not have cable tv and internet. I can buy books or rent from the library. He might choose to eat every meal out and live in a bad neighbourhood. He can claim that he needs all his money for bills because he has lots of toys, a big mortgage etc. I can have tons of money left over because I choose to live frugally. So budgets play only a small part in the calculation.

as an aside.... I have a friend who spent next to nothing on "extras" like internet and cable -drove an old beat up car and managed to pay off her mortgage by age 40 and save enough for a 3 month trip across the world. I personally can't imagine having that kind of disipline for that many years
Reply With Quote
  #8 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2006, 05:40 AM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Calgary
Posts: 281
Divorcemanagement has a spectacular aura aboutDivorcemanagement has a spectacular aura about
Default

Some excellent points of view on spousal support. This topic can befuddle even a judge because spousal support flies in the face of the 'clean break' that most people would want after a divorce has occurred. A payer wants his/her (but mostly his) clean break whereas a recipient is often placed in a position of having to justify the value of their contribution as a stay-at-home parent. Really, how to you place a price tag on being a stay-at-home parent - what's it worth to a family, a community and our culture in general?

I would argue that there are some things you can't put a price tag on because having a parent at home is so much more than simply "having a parent at home" - and here's my reasoning: at the ripe old age of "pert near 40" I have to say that I believe my generation is among the last generation who had mom at home they were growing up. It didn't dawn on me just how privileged I was to have mom at home until I grew up. (Not meant to be a slight against men here, I am drawing from my own experiences - dad's who stay home are just as important as mom's who stay home.)

In those days, being a home maker was still considered honorable I believe. Nowadays women are told there is something wrong with them if they aren't out in the rat race breaking the glass ceiling. So how do you place a monetary value on something that was so much more than cleaning house, preparing meals and watching the kids? Moreover, why does today's culture tend to look down on primarily women who stay home with the kids?

Again, I turn everyone's attention to the current debate in Ottawa about the Conservative goverment's child care plan. The value of stay-at-home parents is, in my view, being ignored by mainstream media and in it's place is a debate over whether the government should be bankrolling day care spaces versus creating incentives for parents to stay at home.

I said it before in a previous thread and will say it again now: it must suck to be a woman these days - you're not good enough if you are at home raising the kids, you're not good enough if you work part time and have the kids in a day care part time and you're not good enough if you work full-time and have the kids in full time daycare. What surprises me most is that it is women telling other women that they're not good enough.

Perhaps if we understood the value of stay-at-home parents better we might be able to solve the riddle of spousal support.
Reply With Quote
  #9 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2006, 08:07 AM
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 44
beltane is on a distinguished road
Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divorcemanagement
re: Spousal Support - I am a realist and I have yet to meet anyone, male or female who is going to turn down free money.
Quote:
Originally Posted by beltane
... I feel you have yet to really address your original remarks when you referred to spousal support as "free money". Is that still your opinion? Were you perhaps mistaken in that opinion? Did you simply use the wrong words? Have you changed your mind now, or do you still feel that spousal support is "free money"?

Personally, I feel as though you are trying to dance around the very important issue that some of the women in this forum are feeling censored and are also feeling that our opinions and concerned are not being equally supported here.

I hope I have worded my concerns politely... I sincerely would like to know what you have to say...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Divorcemanagement
I encourage anyone to continue a thread about how they feel about my comments. Debate is always healthy.
So relieved to see you post this Sean... my concerns of yesterday are somewhat calmed by what appears to be some 'damage control' here on the Divorce.com Forums... (thanks Jeff!)

...so, I'll ask my above question again...
Reply With Quote
  #10 (permalink)  
Old 05-02-2006, 08:24 AM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Calgary
Posts: 281
Divorcemanagement has a spectacular aura aboutDivorcemanagement has a spectacular aura about
Default

And I will respond again by pasting my response from another thread:

Quote:
I will further clarify my use of the term "free money" as it has offended some recipients of support and perhaps gave them the sense that their issues are not somehow important. I will also address (again) concerns relating to the sense that this is a father's rights website or that it has been hijacked by the father's rights movement.

On "free money". If you will look back in this thread to where I first used the term, it was in relation to a posting that Jenny placed stating

I am not being obtuse - just trying to figure you out...

Okay ... so you wouldn't have accepted spousal and if you had your way you would take less then the guidelines.
Quote:
To which I posted my comment about free money. That's the context of my statement and somehow it has been taken personally or taken as a slight against recipients of spousal support/child support or taken to diminish the years of stay-at-home parenting and the impact on a person's economic capacity. I further went on to state in another post that most payers should consider spousal support to be compensatory and rightly so.
I should ask you, Beltane - what specifically can I do that will help you feel better about this issue?

Last edited by Divorcemanagement; 05-02-2006 at 08:27 AM.
Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -4. The time now is 03:04 AM.