FURIOUS IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST wrote in to Dear Abby:
My parents divorced 20 years ago. The court approved a mutual agreement that Dad would pay monthly alimony until Mom remarried or one of them died.
In states like California, this is standard if the marriage lasts ten years or more. It is ridiculous. There are very few cases in which this is warranted.
He has never missed a payment.
Sounds like a law-abiding man. You're not going to see his face on a billboard. You're not going to see his story on Lifetime.
I have recently discovered that Mom secretly married her live-in boyfriend 11 years ago, but has continued receiving the alimony without telling my father.
On the plus side, at least she didn't continue to shack up like some women do to take advantage of the insane alimony system. This is why the "until marriage" thing does not work in alimony.
Is she committing a crime for which she could be arrested? And is her husband guilty of any wrongdoing?
Well, see, there's the negative side. Your mother is a fraud. That's the nicest word I can use about her. Other men might use words that rhyme with itch and blunt, but not me. I'm not a lawyer; I have no idea if her husband can be held criminally responsible for aiding her fraud or "receipt of stolen property." She is likely a tax cheat as a result of this, and he could be as well.
I am extremely upset over this and want to do something to correct this injustice.
Good for you. Even more so if you are a female. I have no idea if you are.
It isn't fair.
Welcome to the battle of the sexes as far as the law goes.
Dear Abby responded:
Marriage certificates are public records, so get a copy of your mother's and mail it to your father. He needs to stop paying the alimony, and he can sue her in family court for any money she wasn't entitled to. His next move should be to consult an attorney and decide how he wants to handle this.
Exactly. Good advice.
I WONDER why feminists have not been vocal in attacking alimony policies - not all, just some - which presents women as unable to take care of themselves? It is a throwback to when women didn't have equal access to the workplace, property ownership, and the academy. If a feminist truly cares about equality and women not being treated as property, shouldn't she be against lifetime alimony in most cases? I get the importance and purpose of alimony in cases when the agreement was for a husband to earn in the income and for the wife to maintain the home and raise the children; she'll need time to establish herself in the working world. (This should all be required prenuptial stipulations, IMO) But for life?
Isn't there some way this situation can be made better? Perhaps through a "divorce insurance" policy? I could see having a policy where if the spouses stay married until one of them dies, the policy pays the survivor, provided the survivor didn't kill the deceased. If they divorce, the policy pays the "alimony". I'm no insurance expert, so feel free to tell me I'm smoking crack.
I really do think that this is one of those things couples should have to state in writing before getting married what the agreement is going to be. A husband-to-be should be able to voluntarily agree, before marrying, to lifetime alimony, but I think it is a bad thing to have as default in most cases. Especially in states with no-fault divorce.
I'd be curious to know the circumstances of the marriage and divorce.