Divorce and Finances

The Globe and Mail has an interesting opinion piece entitled “What’s worse than the mommy wars? Spousal support. What is a victory for women’s choices can also be a disincentive to finding identity and meaning.” It is a good piece of the hidden danger of spousal support whereby women (99% of those who receive spousal support are women) grow dependent on spousal support. They write:

Stories about the fights between ex-spouses over this issue are legion. Men often argue that their exes should get back to work, even if they once encouraged their wives’ decision to stay home, a choice that had clearly facilitated their own careers. “They often don’t appreciate how difficult it is for women to switch gears,” says Linda Meldrum, a family lawyer in Toronto. Many can also be oblivious to the lack of opportunities faced by an older woman who has been out of the work force for a number of years.

But women often abuse the system. “There are women who see it as a sense of entitlement,” another lawyer says. “And there are cases where women cry wolf to try to get themselves off the hook for having to work,” he adds.

Many divorced men complain about having to support an ex-wife who finds a reason – medical, emotional or circumstantial – why she cannot work. One male reader wrote to me about having to pay spousal and child support to his ex-wife, who is living with a boyfriend in comfortable circumstances. Out of spite, she won’t let him see his children, he says. He is barely scraping by. “I am paying for her fancy holidays with her boyfriend,” he fumes.

But even if women deserve spousal support, it is worth examining how it can become a golden handcuff.

For one thing, it is a form of remaining married. “All the women I know who are receiving support from their ex-husbands spend all their time talking about them. They are worried he might lose his job. Then what will happen to their support? Or they complain about how he’s late with the payment,” explained one female reader who chose to waive spousal support even though she had reduced her work as a midwife to look after their four children when they were young. She has since reinvigorated her career to support herself.

The fact of the matter is that sooner or later spousal or child support ends. Sooner or later the children will grow up and sooner or later the financial support will come to an end. What will they do then?

My ex-wife fits this scenario. For the last two years, she has not been working even though her days were free. Between the child support and government funding she received (child tax credits), she could live without working as she “earned” more than many women working. However, she left the country and the Canadian government will no longer be paying her as she is no longer a resident. What will she do? Of course she will sue me for more child support, and I will be left pinching those remaining pennies even tighter. It will be interesting to see what she will do when the child support monies run out. What will she do when she actually has to get and keep a job?

It is never easy. I love my children, but my ex has made sure that I can never spend any time with them. Some days, I regret having had children. I sometimes think that the best thing that a young man could ever do to ensure his economic well-being is to get a vasectomy on his 18th birthday 😉 There is no way you can win. Even if you are a wonderful father (and I was), the odds of you getting custody are close to nil, and you will have to pay for the privilege of being denied access to your children by a vindictive ex-spouse.

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