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One of the reasons for the dramatic increases in child support guidelines over 20 years is the pervasive and mistaken notion that divorced fathers gain economically from divorce while women suffer from it. The myth stems from a now-discredited study conducted over two decades ago by feminist Lenore Weitzman, author of the 1985 book The Divorce Revolution. Weitzman concluded that women's standard of living after divorce dropped by three quarters while men's rose over 40%. The media trumpeted her research--some have called it one of the most widely reported studies in media history--and it led to sharp increases in child support guidelines. However, years later Weitzman was forced to admit that her findings were vastly overstated, due to a huge mathematical error.

Despite this, the myth that men gain economically from divorce remains pervasive, and is repeated even today by numerous writers and commentators, including conservatives like Dennis Prager, feminists like Ann Crittenden, and even by masculists like Tom Leykis.

Sanford Braver, Ph.D., one of the nation's leading experts on the economics of divorce, helped uncover and expose the Weitzman hoax. His research demonstrates that when all relevant factors are taken into account, including the numerous tax advantages custodial parents enjoy, the "men gain/women lose" idea is badly in error. In fact, his new research indicates that the opposite outcome may be more common. To learn more about Braver's research, click here.

Child support expert Jane Spies of the National Family Justice Association also discusses the Weitzman hoax in her recent article The Myth of the Successful Child Support System.

MSNBC, in its recent report on divorce, pushes the myth that men gain financially from divorce and women suffer from it. According to MSNBC:

"After a divorce, a woman's cost of living can increase dramatically, hence the reason why court-ordered alimony and child support payments most often go to women. Even so, experts report the average woman experiences a 45 percent decrease in her standard of living after going through a divorce. Meanwhile, the average man experiences a 15 percent improvement in his standard of living."

These statistics are in error. The MSNBC report is below. From money to emotions: Get over your divorce How to deal with the financial and emotional pitfalls of a split MSNBC, Aug 21, 2007 No matter what the circumstances, divorce is never easy. Both sides have to deal with heart-wrenching personal and financial decisions, but women in particular often find themselves in need of solid financial and emotional advice. Divorce financial analyst Stacy Francis and psychologist and author Debra Mandel offer their advice on how deal with divorce on both fronts. Protect yourself financially After a divorce, a woman's cost of living can increase dramatically, hence the reason why court-ordered alimony and child support payments most often go to women. Even so, experts report the average woman experiences a 45 percent decrease in her standard of living after going through a divorce. Meanwhile, the average man experiences a 15 percent improvement in his standard of living. Divorcing women often react financially to their feelings. They operate from a place of feeling hurt, angry and unappreciated, and that influences spending--for good and bad. They may overspend to compensate for their feelings of loss or fear becoming a bag lady and eat nothing but Ramen noodles to save money. This is a time to look realistically at hard-core finances, and Francis recommends taking the following steps: Read the full article here.

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