Friday, October 08, 2010

A Question of Support

I've met with a variety of sometimes surprising responses when I tell people that my ex-h has to pay spousal support. They range from well shouldn't you just go out and work to revenge scenarios like taking him for all he's worth. First of all, I am working, I just don't pull down a huge salary. And secondly, I've never been a gouger, and revenge only backfires on the perpetrator.

So here's the scoop on spousal support:
1) women post-divorce experience a 50% decline in living standards within 5 years; while men, post divorce, experience a 50% increase.
2) within five years, 75% of men are remarried, while 75% of women are not.
3) 90% of children living in poverty are living with single mothers.

Those are the reasons why the laws have changed so that women don't need to live in poverty.

I've proposed waiving spousal in exchange for his equity in the house. (He won't be left penniless either since he gets all the retirement funds.) This provides me with the security of a home for me and my children.

More research (acquired by me):

Once men remarry, they cleave to the new woman, and HER children, often leaving his own children out in terms of time, energy, and MONEY. In fact, more often than not, when a man dies, he leaves his estate to his new wife, and her children, and leaves his own children little or nothing. (I personally know of four instances of this, and my lawyer says he's seen plenty of cases that support this.)

And finally, since splitting, his ardour toward having the children has cooled a little, passing up offers of taking them here, or there, or visiting in the middle of summer camp... And so the bulk of t he child care rests on my shoulders. Not that I mind. In fact, I often sit up in the middle of it all, dishes, laundry, signing school forms, overseeing homework, and realize: I got the best deal!!!! But it does leave me with more of the workload.

That said, I realize plenty of men are impoverished paying spousal to an ex who won't work. And plenty of men (usually the ones who didn't walk away) are more than eager to have their kids as much as possible.

So my question is:
is spousal support fair?

My New Improved Life Story

Anyone of a certain age and stage who's had a "career" for several years, knows that they either retire, or switch things up a bit if they want to keep going, making a living, and having a productive life.

Me, I wanna focus on that making a living idea. So for the past couple of years, I've been reading business books (some of them are ok), listening to podcasts (on Oprah's website no less!), and trying to absorb what the gurus say about making career shifts at my (undisclosed) age.

Today, I came across a piece of paper that has my scribbling on it, and it's obviously cuz I was listening to some guy who knew what he was talking about. The title at the top of the page is: Get Known Before the Book Deal.
By now, I've become pretty adept at taking concise notes, so this one pager I'm guessing was from a one hour podcast or something.

But everything they suggest is stuff that does not come naturally to me: zoom in and narrow your focus. What happens when you're the kind of person who is intrigued by almost anything? (So much so, I'll talk to virtually anyone, reagrdless of IQ, FQ -- fashion quotient -- or EQ) The podcast guy also says to identify the expertise you already have, by looking at your past, then meet your readership, break them down into submarkets, and align with your audience by figuring out who you are?

Here's how I answered that question: mom, writer, Christian, frantic, worried, photographer, traveller, daughter (with a ? mark), sister (another ? mark), friend, tired, a little unfit and overweight (make that a lot unfit), closet Southerner, closet Catholic, vocational advisor (for friends who have no job), book reviewer, info purveyor. In pencil, obviously added later, I inscribed: generalist, lateral thinker, juggling act, no fixed address (hmm, really? that must have been before I saw my lawyer and was almost guaranteed that my ex-h wouldn't be able to remove me from the house).

And just what am I supposed to turn all that into?

It's a year later, and I'm no further ahead on the work front. Yes, I work, but it's an insecure living, so it's back to the drawing board. And exit the pity pit.