Longtime Fathers & Families member Fred W. Clough (pictured) was the featured guest on Greater Boston with Emily Rooney on PBS affiliate WGBH on Tuesday, February 23.
Clough was married for 11 years but is forced to pay thousands of dollars a week to his ex-wife for a period of 19 years. In Massachusetts, alimony is often ordered for life, and even older men don’t have the right to retire. Instead, they must continue to work to pay alimony to their ex-wives, even when the ex-wives are perfectly capable of supporting themselves.
Rachel Biscardi of the Women’s Bar Association, an opposition guest, cited women’s lost income and earning potential as a result of their role as their children’s primary caregivers. Biscardi isn’t necessarily wrong–Fathers & Families does acknowledge that alimony is sometimes needed in marriages where one partner sacrificed income to care for the children, and the disparities in their income are large. However, many alimony orders are unfair or outright abusive, particularly in Massachusetts.
Fathers & Families Board Chairman Ned Holstein, MD, MS explains:
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, men accounted for 97% of alimony-payers even though in two-earner families, men earn more in only about 67% of cases. The elephant in the room that is rarely mentioned is gender bias. Given the same fact pattern, women will get a break and men will get a bill. Were successful women to be put in the position of paying for their ex-husbands–if women were getting hit with what men are hit with–the demand for change would sweep away the opposition.
The guest from the Bar Association on the show was for ‘judicial discretion,’ meaning uncertainty that lawyers can generate fees fighting over. Bar Associations are often against guidelines that remove discretion in part because removing discretion removes the fees generated by court battles and litigation.
To watch the show, click here and search for “Re-thinking alimony.”