Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Curious Decision: Abusive Husband gets Alimony

You'd think that this would be an exception to the rule.

I'm all for consistent application of the law across genders. If a woman can cheat on her husband and get support payments while the divorce is pending, so should a man. But does that law really, as the judge suggests, extend to making death threats to your spouse and committing assault?

The assault is not in question. The man received a suspended sentence and was ordered not to come anywhere near his wife and children (the divorce is still pending). But the judge in this case ruled that his conduct wasn't relevant at this point.

Mind you, once they hit the actual divorce trial, his assault will come in to play - just as infidelity or other "misconduct" would.

But it still seems unjust and damn strange that the law compels someone to pay $6000 every month to the a guy who threatened to kill her. Note that he might not have actually laid a hand on her. If the writer is using the legal definition of "assault", it might mean that he only threatened her. As if that matters.

The judge didn't seem to like making the ruling, noting that it was a matter of principle and that the whole thing should get ironed out at the divorce trial. In the mean time, somewhat passive-aggressively, the judge increased the child support Mr. Takhar must pay to his wife by $1000/month.

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Puma said...

Good analysis about gender-equality decreeing that what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Personally I would be very careful to give either spouse a carte-blanche to have alimony negated because of x-reason, but not for y-reason. If we allow that, then people will come up with all kinds of ways to game the system.

For example how does one game the system if "abuse" became an alimony-killer? It's not too hard to provoke a 2-way fistfight (just watch any bar-fight scene from an old Western) where both parties get DV convictions, but only one party then gets to turn this into a lifetime alimony advantage.

(Securing/saving a lifetimes worth of free cashflow for a few bruises? Most people would totally go for it).

That said, I think Alimony in a no-fault unilateral divorce system is a real bad idea. Alimony, other than temporary rehabilitive alimony (like in Texas) has no place in the 21st century. In many states with no-fault-alimony or lifetime-alimony laws, people are already gaming the system in large numbers. For example, did you know that 66-75% of divorces are filed by women, and yet 96% of all alimony is also awarded to women? It seems that overwhelmingly the same parties breaking the marriage, are also getting an alimony windfall from that very same breakdown. If this isn't Moral Hazzard, I don't know what is.

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