It's rare anything good comes in the mail lately and today was no exception. Actually it came yesterday; I hate opening the mail and most of it gets tossed anyway. But this letter addressed to my new husband... it's a good thing I opened that innocent white envelope as he suggested. It looked like junk mail but the barcodes and numbers... something told me to pay attention.
Tip: Always open the mail. Everyday. This official letter from an attorney general's office was to let us know he owed back child support payments totaling dollar amounts that made me a bit faint. My husband is not a "deadbeat dad" -- I see the money leaving our checkbook every week. It's just a problem of math. It's always the math.
This is new uncharted territory for me, and it's a relief to know I'm not alone. Child support calculated using old income under different circumstances doesn't work if the household numbers change. We send money, but that's for alimony too. How is this possible? How can becoming suddenly "poor" make someone suddenly "deadbeat"?
And what about alimony, which had been calculated under old salary numbers -- numbers which existed a mere few months after the divorce. Doesn't it matter if there's a drastic change in household income? Is he supposed to sell a kidney to pay this "debt"? Luckily there is a growing nationwide movement for alimony reform, and it's being pushed not by the men who begrudgingly pay, but by their second wives who stay financially single forever.
I'm glad I'm not alone in my outrage that forever-alimony to keep non-working women in "lifestyles" is something that has to stop. It hurts us as woman, makes us look like we need a man to "lifestyle" us since we can't figure it out for ourselves. But having a hug-fest doesn't get us out of the poorhouse. There's real work to be done for reform, to see that women who truly need support get it, and the ones taking advantage are stopped.
The upside down numbers in this new math economy is felt everywhere, and we've all had to adjust accordingly. Keeping an ex-husband indentured to his ex-wife for life, tied to paying large percentages of a salary he'll likely never see in his middle-age life again -- well, how is that justice?
I don't understand why alimony is doled out forever to women perfectly capable of working, and who have, in fact, earned money and demonstrated skills we all wish we had. Why are women -- so lucky to be afforded the privilege of staying home with their children, never ever having to earn an income -- why do they have this feeling of entitlement, even if it's they who decide to walk away?
Perhaps I'm just bitter. When I got divorced, I waived alimony so my ex could have a life. If he paid alimony to me, he would've joined the ranks of many other divorced men sleeping on relatives' couches, unable to afford a room of his own. I was entitled to alimony, and my career might've been better off had I not worked part-time or freelance, (so I could always be near my children) and had pursued higher goals (and degrees). But it was my choice. Many American women are fortunate enough to be afforded many choices. Women who choose to stay home full time -- and I did that for many years -- have an obligation to think ahead. Sooner or later, they will start a business or jumpstart a career or begin another. No degree? One class at a time, and in 18 years you'll have one or two. Do women really bank on never needing to work, ever? Or wanting to, for that matter?
We are in the new math economy where nothing adds up and things you thought should be aren't anymore. Everyone has been forced to adjust to new lifestyles. It's time the courts caught up and stopped looking at alimony as an entitlement.