Do divorce laws in America ALWAYS favour women?

I have come across so many American men, both on this site and elsewhere, say that they are against marriage because they wouldn't want their wife to take away their house, car, half their assets and their kids' custody, if there is a divorce. Is it really that bad over there? I'm unaware of American divorce laws.

I have also noticed that most American women are against pre-nup. If the divorce laws are indeed as draconic as people say, how is it 'wrong' for an American man to insist on a pre-nup?


0|1
811

Most Helpful Girl

  • They're lying and/or exaggerating.

    Assets tend to be split 50/50 because marriage is viewed as a partnership in which both people are contributing equally. While one person may contribute more financially, that doesn't mean that the other person's contributions aren't important too (for example, contributions within the home benefit and support the breadwinner).

    Sometimes one person will have to pay alimony to the other, typically if they make significantly more. This is to help the spouse that makes less money or does is unemployed to get back on their feet. This is particularly important if one spouse was a stay-at-home spouse/parent, since they gave up job experience/earnings to benefit both people, so they will be in a much worse off position in the case of divorce.

    In terms of child custody, the vast majority of child custody arrangements are decided outside of the courts. Within the courts, children are more likely to be placed with the parent who spent the most time taking care of them (in other words, the primary caregiver).

    Laws are typically gender neutral. The reason why men are more likely to be the ones paying alimony is because men are more likely to make more money than their wives. The reason why women are more likely to get great custody (besides the fact that the husbands typically agree to this) is because women are more likely to have been the primary caregiver for the children.

    Women who are against pre-nups typically are against them because a) it's a suggestion that you think your marriage will end in divorce before you've even gotten married... that can feel like your spouse isn't taking their vows of "til death do us part" seriously, and b) it feels like your spouse thinks that you're a golddigger who will try to take all of your stuff in divorce, so it feels insulting.

    3|0
    0|3
    • Makes a lot of sense. Thanks!

      But the pre-nup thing can also be counter-productive, right? If the woman trusts the man enough to marry him, why be against pre-nup? It's just a precaution. We all have vehicle insurance, but that doesn't mean we'll crash our vehicle to claim insurance, right?

    • Show All
    • But what if getting divorced is a choice of the woman, and initially it was SHE who opposed the pre-nup and the man agreed just to make her happy? Would that woman voluntarily NOT stake her claim for alimony? I seriously doubt it.

    • It doesn't really work like that. Pre-nups are to protect the assets that you have to your name BEFORE you entered into marriage (i. e. if you already have a lot of money, or if you own your own business, or if you own property), it's not about alimony. Also, judges can throw out pre-nups that they are unfair, and would probably do so if a pre-nup said that you weren't going to pay your spouse alimony.

Most Helpful Guy

  • Divorce laws vary by state. Some states have onerous alimony laws.

    Historically (think 19th century), when divorce occured, the children and property remained with the father. This was because he was often the sole breadwinner. A divorced mother would retain her personal possessions, but have neither property nor obligation as she left her household. She became a free agent.

    In the early part of the 20th century, a peice of legislation was passed called the "tender years laws". The central idea in these laws was that it was harmful to young children to be removed from their mother. The result was that in case of divorce, the husband would leave the household while retaining the obligation to support the family he was no longer a part of. Alimony for maintaining the ex wife and child support for sustaining the children.

    Fast forward to the 1970s. This is when the adoption of no-fault divorce began. When divorce can happen on the say so of one person (the aggrieved spouse), the avalanche of divorce began.

    At the same time in the 1970s, wage growth began to slow for the first time. As a result, the vast majority of households require two incomes to sustain them at the same standard that was possible on one income decades earlier.

    Consequently, even though both the man and woman each have incomes, the non custodial parent still has financial obligations (child support). The "tender years laws" no longer are in effect, but they shaped public perceptions and the sensibilities of family court judges. Thus, in the majority of cases, custody of children was assumed to be automatically granted to the woman.

    Currently, even this assumption has been going away as men seek their rights to be involved in their children's lives and as the judiciary changes with new judges replacing those that step down from the bench.

    The advocates for child welfare have advanced a different view of child custody arrangements. Previously, the interests of the father or mother were emphasized, now the primary concern is achieving the best outcome for the children.

    To this end, custody has two parts:

    Legal custody - the right to be involved in children's lives

    Physical custody - the right to have children assigned to your household

    Legal custody is usally joint. Physical custody is most often assigned to the parent that has been the primary caretaker for the children so as to minimize their disruption. (In practice, this still means women usally get physical custody.)

    [cont.]

    1|0
    0|1
    • As fathers make the conscious effort to become equal caretakers to their children, they gain leverage in the event of a future divorce.

      A current trend in family law especially in the case if older children is to assign both legal and physical custody jointly. The result is that no child support need pass in either direction. The parents simply maintain two independent households and the children shuttle between the two parents.

      This is primarily an upper middle class phenomena. Remember, slow wage growth since the 1970s has depleted the earning power of a wage earner's paycheck. For poorer folks, child support is still needed to sustain the children after divorce.

      So here is the reality for men:

      - divorce comes easier (no-fault)
      - there is still a de facto result that children will have (physical) custody assigned to their mother
      - loss of earning power requires most parents to both contribute financially to raising their children

      [cont.]

    • Show All
    • @VampireEmpress

      - Using an arbitrator keeps the court from having its docket clogged with irresolvable cases. Let those with deep pockets and huge egos pay for their own petty battles.

    • thanks for explaining so much! I had no idea people had to pay for the arbitrator, but that actually makes more sense to me. if they kept coming back directly to court, then the courts wouldn't be able to handle as many cases as possible, like you said. and then any other attorneys, lawyers, or mediators would be paid directly, since people would still need lawyers at least to serve court orders.

Have an opinion?

What Girls Said 7

  • First no. Divorce is a business. Whoever has the best lawyer wins. What I mean by this is not just the lawyers skill but their relationship with the judge are what determines the outcome in most cases.

    Pre-nups help to an extant. With a pre-nup your assets before getting married are protected. Anything you gain during the marriage is up for grabs. Even then the pre-nup can be thrown out with a good lawyer. I have no issue signing a pre-nup as long as I'm not screwed over (i. e. an infidelity clause). I'd want my husband to sign a pre-nup as well.

    I watched a documentary on divorces that would definitely scare anyone into thinking twice before getting married. However, it's purpose wasn't to scare but inform the audience on the corruption of divorce court. I would still get married because it's all about love in the end. I'm not going in with the thought of divorce despite the pre-nup. Pre-nups normally last 8 years anyway and it's said if you make it for 8 years you are more then likely to last.

    1|0
    0|0
    • That's really sad! And I'm pretty sure 'good' lawyers cost an arm and a leg, so in many cases it would be better to just reach an out of court settlement and pay up whatever is being demanded.

    • Yes if both party's are reasonable. One woman did that with her ex until he started not keeping his end of the deal with child custody (it was suppose to be 50/50). He refused to let the kids see the mother so she took him to divorce court to uphold the 50/50 contract. He had a better lawyer and had custody taken away from the mother. Then had her pay child support even though he makes more then her. He has a six figure salary as a doctor and she has 5 figure salary as a massage therapist. Her finances are in the red and can barely pay child support. If she can't pay then she'll be put in jail.

    • yep, you can even be put in jail!

  • I believe each state has different laws. I know of some women who made more money than their husbands and ended up paying those guys after the divorce.

    2|0
    0|0
    • So these divorce laws are usually defined by individual states, and not applicable to the USA as a whole?

    • Yes, each state is different in how divorces are handled. It also depends a lot on the judge that a couple gets appointed to.

  • other people have told me prenups can be thrown out, so they're not good for much. and yeah, the divorcing can really be that bad... but it can also be bad for women.

    it puts people in a lot of debt or destroys their credit, if they don't make their payments on time. or if the spouse who's supposed to pay refuses to, then over time that can even ruin the other spouse's credit (the who has the kids) also. and make them lose their car/house too.

    and if I'm remembering right, they spouse who as main custody of the kids can even request owed child support payments even after the kids are grown. and one spouse can even make the other spouse pay for their court costs.

    1|0
    0|0
    • Yup. I forgot to mention that in my post. The woman also had to pay her ex-husbands court and lawyer cost.

    • @SilenRose it's insane. and if you can't afford that, aside from jail I've heard of people's bank accounts being seized.

    • Whoa! Uggh, that sounds terrible. Especially if you're already in the red. x_x

  • see you used the word always and thats wrong my government teacher in high school had a divorce that worked in his favor. i would really hate being a judge its hard to take a child away from either of its parents especially when they do a good job at it

    0|0
    0|0
  • It would depend on the lawyer, state laws and the pre nup that is in place. The richer one always pay out to the one who doesn't make money or more money.

    0|0
    0|0
  • In most situations yes. If the woman is abusive, or an addict obviously that would be different

    0|0
    0|0
  • A USA friend of mine got totally screwed in Cali :(

    0|0
    0|0
    • Was your friend a man or a woman?

    • Show All
    • I luuuuuuuuuuuuurve your determination and optimism.
      You are definitely a man with a solid plan.
      Totally admirable in EVERY regard :) xo

    • Thank you very much for your appreciation! It has just increased my level of determination by a notch or two! :)

What Guys Said 10

  • Every state has it's own laws about divorce (and pretty much everything else). I don't know what's typical, but yes, it seems to be pretty lopsided. In theory it might be equal, but not in practice. In practice it's pretty common for men to get screwed over pretty badly. I've personally known quite a few cases where it happened. I've known several cases where it completely wrecked a man financially.

    I have a lawyer friend who was in family law. She actually got out of law because it was so bad. She thought the whole thing was sickening.

    0|0
    0|0
    • That's pretty scary!

    • It's not really that scary. I guess I didn't actually answer the question in the literal sense. No it doesn't "always" favor the women. I really have no idea what the breakdown is. I'm sure there are plenty of equitable divorces. Those are the ones you hear less about. However, of the ones that are not equitable, it seems like 9/10 screw the man over.

      I don't think it's a good reason to not get married though. I think it's just jaded guys making excuses and wanting to bitch. Typical jaded GaG guys who don't represent the majority.

  • Not just in America. My uncle, who lives in Spain, married a woman and had a baby with her. They got divorced, he didn't lose half his stuff, but he had to share custody of the kid. Sound reasonable, right? The problem is that his ex wife is a psycho. She made his life almost impossible. Scratching his car. Destroying his tires. Putting super-glue on the lock of his house... she even got her family to screw with him; how can someone like that get half of the custody of the kid?
    But what's even worse is that my uncle has a heart disease, he can't work again.
    So a woman that fucks up the life of a man with a heart disease gets half the custody of the kid... that's fucked up man. That's the main example why I'm extremely wary about getting married.
    It's not just in America where divorce laws favor women, other countries suffer from that problem too.

    0|0
    0|0
    • Yeah, I get it. Really unfair for your uncle.

      But they STILL say it's a man's world! How hypocritical!

    • Show All
    • I'm not whining or rambling, just saying that the phrase 'It's a man's world' is not true any more, and hence it's highly offensive to men. Men and women face different kind of issues, but that doesn't mean it's a man's, or even a woman's world. People who keep mentioning this phrase, are big time idiots.

    • I wasn't referring to you, I was referring to those who say "it's a man's world" over and over again. They say this because that way they don't have to talk about the reasons why it is NOT a man's world, at least not in the West.

  • Most men do not benefit during a divorce; more importantly, most women don't contribute to the marriage as much as men do. They'll say women support their men's careers, but there are many that become obstacles to their breadwinner's careers. Anyway, it's best to talk to a lawyer on how to protect your assets.

    0|0
    0|0
  • Yes, I think they do.

    0|0
    0|0
  • I'd imagine they favour whoever had the least money going into the relationship, which is often, though definitely not always, the woman.

    0|0
    0|0
  • No it doesn't always favour the woman.. but from what I've seen, it favours the woman most of the time. And ofc they are against a pre-nup, haha. You're basically taking the golden parachute away in the event that they get bored of the marriage and file for a divorce

    0|0
    0|0
    • That means, an American man getting married has a lot more to lose than gain! So these men are right in being against marriage.

    • well it all comes down to who makes more money. Since its usually the man, they usually have the most to loose from a divorce.

  • Not always, but almost always.

    0|0
    0|0
  • pretty much

    0|0
    0|0
  • Laws in India aren't really any different.

    0|0
    0|0
    • But there are 'ways' to circumvent the laws in India, due to rampant corruption here! Even the judiciary can be 'purchased' through certain 'channels'. Most laws in India are just on paper.

    • Well unless you can afford to bribe a corrupt official it is the same in India and America. I was in India for a few months and I read a news story one day about a poor man who went to jail for not paying alimony.

    • Yeah, there are a few isolated cases like that, but usually laws in India aren't implemented. But yes, the poor suffer the most.

  • Most states men have way less parental rights and end up paying just to barely see their kid. People can lie or sugar coat the facts but the truth is men get the short straw 80% of the time.

    0|0
    0|0
Loading... ;