Saturday, May 26, 2007

Goes together like a horse and carriage

What is it, 1 in every 3 (or was it 2) marriages end in divorce now? That's a lot of divorce lawyers who are making a mint eh? Not to mention everyone who gets paid because people are making money via change of address, change of name, change or everything forms. Lucrative.

Divorce and marriage happens to be in the headlines once again because of Ol' Greg Norman and his divorce to wife Laura. You remember Greg, right? He's that underachieving and over-hyped golfer. Laura..well, I've never heard of her before, but I'm sure she has her own story, as do we all. Anyway as the story goes, after 25 years of married life Greg filed for divorce and now they are battling it out in the courts. She wants half, he's offering a little less than 1/3. Quite frankly when we're talking about 300 million dollars then the cookies are so big that 1/3 is probably quite enough to keep someone well away from ever having to use food vouchers or buy home brand shampoo. Take it luv.

Oh, wait it turns out that old Greg couldn't keep it in his pants. Well, that's a different story. I have this theory that when infidelity is involved then nothing short of stabbing at the jugular will do. People can be reasonable up until that point and then it all goes to shit. And you know what? I may be one unpopular lady for saying this but fuck it: I reckon if you get married and then you cheat then you SHOULD be kicked where it hurts, and if that's the wallet then I totally applaud it.

But what if it's a run of the mill divorce? No cheating - just that it's over?

This is how I view marriage - you are team. Why get married if you're not going to be a team? You share a bed don't you? You share your children, don't you? You share your lives, don't you? You share in-jokes about the neighbours and take turns to walk the dog don't you? I don't see the point of getting married (and I totally INCLUDE defacto couples in marriage here) if you're not going to share. So while we're sharing so much, why is it when the marriage breaks down that all this sharing you were so willing to do beforehand goes out the window?

Yes, I think that infidelity, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, crime etc etc make an ordinary situation extraordinary. But I'm not talking about that - just the 'we don't love each other anymore - it ain't working' divorces. Why is it so hard to share afterwards what you were so willing to share before? If you're a team you both reap the rewards and you both suffer the losses, I say.

But there are so two opinions that keep popping up about this:

Opinion 1) The husband and wife put in differently. He paid off the house while she raised the kids at home. Or she paid off the house while he raised the kids.

This is rubbish. Anyone who knows any stay at home mum/dad knows how hard it is to raise a family. As my friends are going through it now I'm seeing how crazy that kind of lifestyle is. It's the value we put on these things that count. Money talks sure, but a job doesn't count more than raising a family. I don't buy it. Besides, lucky are the few that are able to live this kind of lifestyle for longer than a year or two in this economic climate.

Also, and we're seeing something related happening right now in terms of opposition leader Kevin Rudd and his missus. Sometimes for one half of the couple to gain success the other suffers loss. Since you are a team you both take it on though. You both take on the success and you both take on the loss. The thing is, let's say that one half gives up their business for the other and years later they get a divorce. The one who gave up their business doesn't just pick up and keep going after the divorce. How can they? They GAVE UP their career for the other, it's going to take them a hell of a lot longer to get back on their feet than someone who has an established business in the pipeline that just continues on divorce or not. In the case of Greg Norman's wife - with such a rich and successful husband, what was she supposed to do exactly while her hubby was golfing it up? Get a job as a check out chick in a supermarket? I don't think so.

Bottom line: It's moot point. Both parents are working these days anyway and if not then it's been agreed mutually that one should stay home. Team decision. Team outcome - share half.

Opinion 2) She gets the kids. Why should I have to pay?

This is what I like to call the 'shit for brains' opinion. You both made the kids so until they're 18 you BOTH pay. I think sometimes it goes too far with people with more money than sense but I really don't think they are indicative of 'normal lifestyles' anyway. Keeping a wife in the lifestyle to which she is accustomed is a weird concept to me - and it conjures up images of 80 year old men who marry 18 year old women. I don't think it's real. What IS real though that you have kids and then one parent feels like they are paying too much and the other feels like the payments don't cover enough.

I actually think they're both right - really.

Kids are expensive but at the same time it's emotionally heartbreaking not to see them.

I don't know how exactly it can ever be worked out so that it's totally even, except that maybe the rules should be defined better.

If they live with both parents equally then each parent should share the cost of extras such as school fees, uniform, camps, parties, music lessons, child care etc. Stuff like clothes and food/electricity/internet connection etc should be taken care of by each parent individually because the child lives with each equally. Only payment should really be in the form of extras.

If the children live with one parent during the week and the other every other weekend. Then yes, the parent who sees them less should have to still put in for half of 5/7 days of food and electricity and that kind of stuff - the other parent puts in for half of the weekend's worth of the same. In the end much cancels out except for a few days which need to be shared in terms of money. Doing it alone during the week while you're trying to get off to work everyday and dealing with homework issues at night and the school time worries and discipline etc would be excruciatingly hard on your own compared to picking them up for a weekend and being seen as the fun parent. Then again, only seeing your kids on the weekend means forking out money to do fun stuff or dealing with having only such a short time with them and giving up your own weekends. That would be *so* hard too. I guess these situations will never be totally fair so we look to the bottom line - money. It's sad, but it's the state of things.

If children are granted full exclusive custody to one parent ... I don't really want to comment. I've only ever see this take place at the school and in cases like this it's because something really bad has happened and is messy all around. I don't know if this is always the case but I only ever hear the shit stuff. But the rule still applies. You made the kid, you pay for it - but I have to say in the cases I've seen the parent with full custody (and no it isn't always the mum! Believe me!) doesn't want anything to do with the Ex, including money.

Bottom line - it would be great if divorced parents were all still great friends and lived very close to each other so that the kids could even walk to their mum/dad's house without it being a hassle for pick up/drop off. They could REALLY share custody instead of doing it the hard way - but that's not going to happen for most people. Bottom line is..money and I really think that when it comes to money both parents should put in equally for the general raising of their children. If one divorced parent is rich then you'd think they'd actually WANT to do extra stuff for their children, but if not then I guess it always comes back to haunt them. Kids know exactly who is putting in and how much these days. They notice those things like 'why does Mum go for holidays to Vanuatu never sends me money for shoes?' They know who's being a deadbeat and losing the respect of your child is the worse price to pay IMO.

I guess my opinion is this. You get married and you're a team when you divorce you split as a team and share the wealth. If you have nothing, you share half of nothing. If you have everything you share that too. Whatever you brought to the partnership pre-marriage is not part of that deal, but everything post-wedding is.

Where do you stand on the divorce and money issue?

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