A New Front in Family Law Wars?

October 18, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The new front in the family law wars appears to be here (BuzzFeed, 10/5/18).  It’s a longish article that makes but a single point – that a woman who’s been the victim of her husband’s domestic violence shouldn’t have to pay him alimony when she divorces him.  Now, readers will note my gendered language that appears nowhere in the article itself.  But, whatever the wording, the gist of the article is clear – that domestic violence is almost exclusively a gendered phenomenon and so the issue of whether alimony should be paid by a victimized spouse is also gendered.

Indeed, of the article’s half-dozen or so examples of a victimized spouse paying alimony to a perpetrator, all of them are women paying men.  And there’s this:

When it comes to the price of domestic violence, divorce courts are free to make the victims — almost always women — pay up.

That of course is (a) utterly untrue and (b) right out of the domestic violence industry’s playbook.  After over 40 years of research showing women to be as violent or more violent than their male partners, the DV industry still repeats the canard that 95% of DV is perpetrated by men.  Just last year Stats Canada came out with their every-five-years data on interpersonal violence.  It showed 55% of perpetrators to be women and 45% men.  Lesbian relationships had about twice the violence as male-female ones and three times that of gay male relationships.  And of course there are literally hundreds of studies debunking the DV industry’s claims. One of those, on teen dating violence, just came out recently and I reported on it yesterday.

This being BuzzFeed, no one will be surprised to discern an ulterior motive in the article.  On its face, it presents a seemingly credible contention.  Why should someone brutalized by a spouse have to pay them alimony?  It’s a fair question, but it raises many more.

For example (and the article mentions this), since divorce in every state is a no-fault matter, why should we now insert fault into the alimony issue?  And if we’re inserting that aspect of fault, why not insert others?  What about paternity fraud?  Why not include adultery as a reason for voiding the right to alimony?

Indeed, that last (and many others) has been raised by husbands for a long time.  “My wife broke up our marriage by having an affair with another man, and now I have to reward her behavior?”  It’s a pretty convincing argument and one that’s been scrupulously ignored by the likes of BuzzFeed and gender feminist groups over the years.  Some might count that as strange given that men commit adultery at about the same rates as do women.  So wouldn’t it serve higher-earning women to pass laws that prohibit them from paying alimony in that situation?

The answer reveals the true motive behind the Buzzfeed article’s contention. 

As is well known and as Professor Elizabeth Saewyc said clearly in yesterday’s blog post, males are highly unlikely to report being hit by a woman.  It’s true of boys in dating relationships and it’s true of men in married ones.  This is not news.  So if men are reticent about DV, and they are, then it stands to reason that the result of a law banning alimony to perpetrators of DV would redound almost exclusively to the benefit of women.

Such a law would tend strongly to continue the flow of wealth from men to women, but not vice versa.  Unsurprisingly, that’s precisely the policy adopted by gender feminists long ago.  As former feminist Hildegard Sunderhof made clear at NPO’s conference on shared parenting, radical feminists back in the 80s abandoned the goal of parental equality in favor of sole child custody plus child support and alimony to mothers.

Confining the alimony “out” to incidents of DV that men rarely report despite being at least half of DV victims looks very much like part of that same program.

And that’s not all.  As I’ve said many times, except in comparatively rare instances of spousal disability due to age or some medical condition, there should be no reason for alimony at all.  Nothing prevents women from getting and keeping jobs and equality and fairness demand that they do so, that they and they alone be responsible for their own support outside of marriage.  But of course the BuzzFeed article never makes that point, never calls for the abolition of alimony despite its very existence frankly contradicting the feminist talking point that women are strong, self-reliant individuals.

And here’s a reality also ignored by the BuzzFeed piece: 97% of alimony payers are men.  And here’s another: at least half of DV victims are too.  That means to a virtual certainty that there are many, many men out there who were victimized by their wives and are still required to pay them every month, in many cases for the rest of their lives.  But since they don’t report it, they’re unlikely to benefit from a law protecting DV victims from paying alimony.

Yesterday’s blog post dealt with dating violence.  It rightly pointed out that males are unlikely to report same to anyone, much less anyone in authority.  It attributed that reticence to the fact that men don’t complain much about whatever hardships they face, because men are raised to keep “a stiff upper lip” about such matters.  It neglected to point out the evolutionary basis for that behavior, but I won’t quibble about that here.

But Saewyc left out a very important second reason for men’s unwillingness to complain – there are little-to-no resources they can access to help them out of their predicament.  DV shelters?  There are three in the entire country.  A judge who will treat a male victim as sympathetically as a female one?  Few and far between.  The police?  Ditto.  A psychologist?  They’re now often trained to believe that men have the power in relationships and therefore can’t be victims of women’s DV.

So, given that our society offers male victims of DV little assistance for their problem and, likely as not, ridicules them for being victims of women’s violence, why would a man speak up?  Few do and that appears to be exactly as BuzzFeed likes it.  As long as they don’t, we can rely on the fact that the flow of wealth from men to women will continue.  That of course is what Buzzfeed is promoting.

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