Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Another Modest Proposal: No-fault divorce petitioner presumptively barred from receiving alimony

(Note: Given that the overwhelming majority of alimony recipients have been and remain women, I will refer for this reason and this reason alone in this entry to the party seeking alimony in the feminine gender).

(Note: I am not divorced; this entry is not driven by a personal agenda or misogyny; it is a call for thoughtful debate on a topic that I feel has not been thoughtfully addressed)

Here is today's topic of debate:

Resolved, that the Utah Code governing divorce (Title 30, Chapter 3) should be modified to include a provision that if one petitions (or counter petitions) for a divorce on no-fault grounds, there is a rebuttable presumption that the petitioner is not entitled to an award of alimony.

Argument: If a petitioner seeks a divorce on no-fault grounds, she is literally claiming that she has not been compelled to seek divorce by any fault of the respondent, but has chosen to leave the marriage of her own accord. If a petitioner seeks to be released from a marriage in which the respondent spouse is without fault and remains willing to continue in the marriage and to "support his wife when she is in need" (See Utah Code Section 78-45-3 (Duty of Man) (repealed February 2008), it would be unjust and inequitable to require that faultless spouse to finance the petitioner's new, unmarried life, i.e., if the petitioner no longer wishes to be married to a faultless spouse, then a consequence of that wish should be termination of the financial support from the faultless spouse whom the petitioner is abandoning.

How can a petitioner logically ask on one hand, "I want to be free of all my marital responsibilities and obligations and return to my status as an unmarried person," then on the other hand claim, "But the purely marital obligation of my soon to be ex-spouse to provide for my financial/material support I wish to continue"?

And consider this: if the petitioner claims she should be freed from her obligations under the marriage contract, yet have the ex-spouse ordered to continue to provide her with financial/material support (put another way: getting the milk for free without buying the cow), why should not the ex-spouse be entitled to have the petitioner ordered to clean the respondent's house, cook his meals, babysit his children (if he's awarded child custody), or even provide him with sexual favors on a regular basis? What is the essential difference?

Whether the petitioner has "need" of support or whether the respondent "has the ability to pay" are irrelevant questions where the petitioner, knowing she cannot provide for her own support if unmarried and no longer legally entitled to her spouse's financial or other material support, nevertheless chooses to abandon the marriage on no-fault grounds.

I welcome your comments.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head.

"I wish to leave you, I wish to have no more marital obligations to you, but oh by the way you will have lifelong financial obligations to me."

How is this justice? If this is what the strength of the institution of marriage is reduced to, then it is no surprise that marriage rates are steadily falling over the past 50 years. In England they are the lowest in 125 years of being measured.

We often complain about the new generation of men being irresponsible, won't grow up, Peter Pan's, etc. I think the reality is that these men, like all men before them, are intelligent decision makers. They are simply reading these new post no fault era divorce laws, and voting with their feet.

I have heard this being called the "Marriage Strike". Women of marriage age with their biological clocks ticking away should ignore this phenomenon at their own risk. These puzzling laws can only change if fair minded women and men band together to vote for the politicians brave enough to change them.