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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

December 30, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

It’s hard to be so right and so wrong all in the space of a fairly short article, but this pseudonymous writer managed (Clutch, 12/10/16).  The subject is yet another celebrity split-up, this time that of singer Mary J. Blige and husband/manager, Kendu Isaacs.  Why should we care?  Because their divorce touches on an important topic in law and public policy, alimony.

Blige is the wealthier of the two and, as such, is subject to being forced to pay Isaacs for at least a time during and after their divorce.  With an eye to the main chance, Isaacs has demanded same and in no uncertain terms.  He’s requested the court order Blige to pay him over $129,000 per month for an undisclosed period of time.  Yes, that’s over $1.5 million per year.

At this point, the words “Get a job” come to mind.  I’ve inveighed many times against alimony for just about anyone.  My standard exceptions are the very old and the disabled, but outside of them, I only endorse alimony for the shortest possible period of time required for the lower-earning ex to get back on his/her feet financially. 

The simple facts of contemporary life in the U.S. demand that we abolish alimony in all cases except those listed above.  First, essentially everyone can earn enough to support themselves and should do so.  Adults should be responsible for themselves in every way and earning enough to pay their bills is perhaps the single most important way to do so. 

Second, divorce should be divorce and not some interminable process in which all the rights and responsibilities of marriage are dispensed with save one.  The idea that one person can cast off another and yet continue to be supported by him is outrageous for many reasons. 

First and foremost, the existence of alimony encourages divorce and discourages marriage.  How could it not.  In all other areas of life we recognize the fact that offering a financial incentive to take a certain action increases the likelihood that the action will be taken.  Alimony offers (mostly) men an incentive to not marry and (mostly) women an incentive to divorce.  Encouraging both is one sign of a dysfunctional society.

Third, the idea that divorce should make no difference in the living standard of the lower-earning spouse is even more outrageous.  Actions have consequences.  If you earn a modest income, don’t be surprised when you live modestly.  Is that too much to ask?

Mary J. Blige should pay Kendu Isaacs a reasonable amount, say $5,000 - $10,000 per month for at most a year.  After that he’s on his own.  If his talent management business comes up to speed quicker than that, then Blige should be able to have her obligation ended earlier.  Isaacs is an adult.  He should act like one.

All that the writer seems to basically agree with.  She (I’m assuming the writer is a woman) gets the absurdity of today’s alimony law.  Or does she?  No sooner has she established her gender-equality bona fides than she does an abrupt about-face.

I’m not here for anyone living off of anyone else, but I’m especially not here for men — who are basically the privileged salt of the earth — maintaining their lifestyles off the backs of women.

Ah, comes the dawn!  In fact the writer says she opposes alimony, but never got around to saying so until it was a man who requested it.  Then she’s up in arms.  It reminds me of the gender feminists who kept mum about the male obligation to sign up with the Selective Services System but who, when the prospect of women having to do so developed, all of a sudden discovered that there should be no military conscription at all.  At least the Clutch writer admits her hypocrisy.

Yes, it’s hypocritical that we didn’t care before…

And immediately justifies it

but wealthy men would reap the benefits of our labor as well…

Yes, it’s that old chestnut.  In some way gender feminists have convinced themselves that, when a woman elects to stay home, for whatever reason, and live off the earnings of her husband/boyfriend, in some way she’s not receiving a financial benefit.  The fact that she’s receiving for free things (room and board, utilities, insurance, taxes, vacations, clothing, etc.) she’d otherwise have to pay for never seems to occur to the ever-aggrieved.  Somehow, according to them, her care of the kids and the house is labor that’s worth something, but the money he earns to allow her to do so isn’t.  Doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Nor does this:

Though only 3% of alimony recipients are men, women are working overtime on reform now that we’re paying alimony more often.

Nonsense.  Show me one example of “women… working overtime on reform” of alimony laws.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Just last summer we witnessed the Florida chapter of NOW fighting tooth and nail to stop a bill that made the most modest changes to Florida law.  What the bill mostly would have done was to end permanent alimony for most couples.  So to be clear, Florida NOW screamed bloody murder about the idea that ex-husbands should be relieved of the obligation of supporting their ex-wives literally until the day they die.  Stated another way, that champion of the free and empowered woman, NOW, wants the final act of many men’s lives to be the writing of a check to a woman who couldn’t be bothered to give him the time of day. 

Such is the “reform” of alimony laws for which the writer wants us to believe “women are working overtime.”

Given all that, the writer finally dispenses with even her pretense of support for gender equality.

As much as we bemoan gender roles, when women are still bombarded with messages about men being born to lead, from the boardroom to the bedroom, it’s hard not to look down on a man (or anyone for that matter) who isn’t earning their own livelihood or even trying to. It’s one thing to request a little money to tide one over after a split, it’s quite another to claim you need $1.5 million to survive. The latter is something I simply can’t respect, especially coming out of the mouth of a man.

Yes, alimony is a bad thing, but particularly so when it’s a man who’s in line to receive it.  I don’t know how much Isaacs will end up with, but he and Blige have been married for over 12 years, and she’s a big-time earner.  So, if the law is to be applied in a gender-neutral way, he should get plenty.

I of course oppose that.  But articles like the one linked to are almost enough to make me say “You go, duuuude!”

 

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National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization

National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

#alimony,#MaryJ.Blige, #KenduIsaacs

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