Are Couples in which the husband didn’t have a full-time job had a chance of divorcing the following year, compared to couples in which the husband did have a full-time job?
In my opinion, given that generally husbands still earn substantially more than wives, the “best” time for a man to divorce, if he must, is—unless he’s incredibly altruistic toward his wife/soon-to-be-ex-wife—when he’s jobless and/or poor. But this principle applies just as well to a wage-earning wife too. Why?
If ever there may be a silver lining to being jobless and/or poor, it could be when getting divorced.
Another divorce attorney told me many times, “Good behavior in a marriage is bad behavior in a divorce, and vice versa.” And you’ve heard the phrase, “No good deed goes unpunished.” In many situations that’s all too true. Earning a living is a good example of these principles.
In a successful, happy marriage, earning a good living helps keep things running like a well-oiled machine. It promotes optimism and good mental and physical health. It reduces stress and worry. It wins the admiration and affection of family members.
In a dysfunctional, miserable marriage, earning a good living usually (not always, but usually) means, when the divorce dust settles, that the guy or gal who earns more pays more to the ex-spouse. Pays more of what? Marital debt, child support, and alimony. In divorce, earning a good living goes from being a blessing to a curse. It can feel essentially like involuntary servitude because you are ordered to pay whether you want to pay. And it’s not unusual for courts to order the paying spouse to pay more than he/she practicably can. This breeds consistent resentment, depression, discouragement, stress, and worry. But is there gratitude for the payor? Forget it. Child support and alimony are far too often treated as “rights” and entitlements.
The poor spouse has less (if any) money to pay child support and alimony. And the poorer spouse of the couple has a great argument for receiving money in the form of child support and alimony. The poorer one is, the harder it is for the other spouse and the court to justify any—let alone big—child support and alimony awards.
Now for those of you contemplating divorce who think this means, “Ah, so I should impoverish myself before I divorce,” shame on you. Many try to game the divorce process this way (and many get away with it), and it’s easy to see what makes it so tempting. Both A) the spouse who earns a lot of money and B) the other spouse who wants to get a lot of money (from child support, alimony, and debt relief), try to fake job loss, demotion, crushing debts and obligations, illness, injury, or disability. If you think this is a brilliant innovation, you’d be wrong. Divorce courts have seen this scheme tried time and again. They see it so often that they expect both spouses to make these claims. They see it so often that they sometimes conclude that one or both spouses is/are lying about income and expenses even when they are not. Can the courts be fooled? Sure, they get fooled a lot, but not always, not even usually. That stated, I know that there are tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dishonest people who will file for divorce each year and who will try to con the court with the “I’m poor” play.
Bottom line: being poor (truly poor, not fake poor) is, in many ways, a winning hand in divorce, if you can prove it in the course of your divorce action. Being poor often saves the spouse who would otherwise pay through the nose. Being poor often benefits the spouse who would receive child support, alimony, and debt relief.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277