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Is alimony in need of an update?

Blogger excoriates women who expect men to pay for everything.

By Karen Datko Nov 24, 2009 9:25PM

The following story set off a thoughtful rant by “Fabulously Broke”: A judge this year granted alimony to a jobless woman despite the fact that she and her husband had waived any claim to alimony when they divorced 27 years ago.

This turn of events is one of the anecdotes in an excellent Wall Street Journal story about why some lawmakers think alimony laws are sorely in need of an update. (It appears that the economy is prompting more people to seek support from spouses they divorced years ago. We should also note that a large majority of alimony payers are men.)


Here’s the core of the WSJ piece:

The nature of marriage has changed dramatically over the decades. Women now make up almost half of the American work force. But alimony, a concept enshrined in ancient law, has remained remarkably constant. Now, the idea that a husband should continue to support his wife forever, even after the demise of their marriage -- long a bedrock of divorce law -- is being called into question. Pressures are mounting to change a practice that some see as outdated and unfair.

Unfair is right, blogger “WellHeeled” said about the alimony award mentioned above, and she produced an example of similar thinking:

“Right now I am receiving unemployment insurance payments because I qualify for them. It doesn’t matter that my parents have the ability to give me $X a month. Can the government go to Mom and say, ‘Oh, sorry, you have to cover WellHeeled’s UI payments because you were her primary caretaker for 18 years, and we don’t really want to pay’”?

Fabulously Broke also thought the alimony award was unfair, and offered that financial dependence of women on men is not limited to older folks. Many of her girlfriends still expect men to pick up the tab.


“Some of my girlfriends think that just because they’re girls, they should pay as little as possible. The guy should take care of them. He should pay for all dinners out, all trips, treat them to gifts, spoil them with flowers, all in exchange for being with them,” Fabulously Broke said.


She added that men are stupid for letting women take advantage of them like that.


“But regardless of who’s taking advantage of whom, the bottom line to me is that it just isn’t fair,” FB wrote. “Barring circumstances such as being a SAHM with kids to take care of, a woman should always have control of her own financial destiny.”


What’s your take? There are two questions here:

  • Is alimony a product of a different age that should be amended or even tossed out?
  • Do women -- at least some -- in this day and age still expect men to take care of them? (Good grief. I thought we’d gotten beyond that.)

Related reading:

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