Friday, 21 June 2013

What is alimony about?

Have we moved beyond the days of a spouse as a burden, necessary mainly for home maintenance, money and procreation?

My latest post at

Wondering about support

I work at Acme Inc. Ltd., and I have been for 10 years now. But I have realized, recently, that my strengths no longer align with what the company needs. And the company’s growth strategy no longer aligns with where I want to be in ten years.
So now we decided to part ways. Maybe I was the one to sever our agreement, maybe the company decided they no longer needed me, or perhaps – it does happen – we mutually agreed that we were no longer a productive team. I forget how it exactly it went down. But that doesn’t matter.
Here, however, is the catch: I now have no job. Which means no salary. That salary was an agreed amount paid to me in return for my services to Acme Inc. Ltd. And I used it to live. You know: buy groceries, pay my rent, keep my utilities on, and even a holiday or shopping spree now and again. After all these years of getting along, I think that Acme should:
“recognise any economic advantage or disadvantage to employees arising from employment or its breakdown”.
You see where I am going with this: I want support payments, to maintain me in the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed, until I find my next job. Because, see, Acme Inc. Ltd. has more money than I do.
How does that sound?
Nice, perhaps, if you are the one leaving the job. Outrageous if you are still working at, or an owner of, Acme Inc. Ltd.. And just a little bit crazy if viewed from the outside.
The quote above is actually paraphrasing Canada’s Divorce Act, and the above scenario is an alimony agreement. The correct quote states that decisions in alimony payments must “recognise any economic advantage or disadvantage to spouses arising from marriage or its breakdown”.
My question is: why?
Let me premise right away: child support is not alimony, and I am not talking about child support in this post. Let me also premise that I support any payments or exchange between two agreeing parties. If I am divorcing a spouse and I am concerned about my ex not being able to live by the same standards he enjoyed as my partner, and I wish to give him money or a house to rectify that, then fine, I am free to do so.
What I do not understand is alimony as a law.
Let’s remember that in previous generations (and indeed going back to antiquity), alimony was to be paid to a woman (scorned), because her support was a husband’s duty (those old traditions didn’t necessarily always favour men). This was back when a woman was seen as a financial burden – one which plenty of men or parents were happy to carry, but a burden nonetheless.
Have we moved beyond the days of a spouse as a burden, necessary mainly for home maintenance, money and procreation?

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