OK. I’ll suspend one of my rules for just this once. And of course it’s not a hard and fast rule anyway. I just try to navigate this blog to avoid, whenever possible, the truly tawdry shoals of celebrity divorce and catfights related thereto. Face it, celebrities rarely have much more to offer than the rest of us and their dirty laundry isn’t any more attractive than ours. So I’ve never quite grasped our culture’s infatuation with the lifestyles of the rich and flashy.
I’m breaking my rule this time because there is actually a larger point to be made. So, without further ado, we all know that TV and movie actress Eva Longoria filed for divorce from her NBA-star husband Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs. He in turn filed for divorce against her. Her suit is in Los Angeles, his is in Texas, presumably San Antonio.
The larger point is that Longoria is apparently demanding that Parker pay her spousal, er, support. From what I’ve read, Parker’s net worth is probably greater than Longoria’s and some of the scandal sheets have concluded that it’s no accident that she filed shortly after Parker signed a new contract with the Spurs worth a reported $50 million.
Still, by any stretch of the imagination, Eva Longoria doesn’t need anyone’s support. Whatever she’s worth now and whatever she takes down from her acting, product endorsements, etc., she’s got more than enough money to live a lavish lifestyle.
Spousal support or alimony was never meant to simply equalize incomes or standards of living. The idea has always been that, if one spouse, due to any of a number of reasons, such as illness, incapacity, old age, has come to depend on the earnings of the other spouse, he/she (usually she) should not be left high and dry. Within limits of course, those are legitimate reasons to have a sort of private safety net ready to catch the spouse who truly cannot care for him/herself.
You can also make the argument for some sort of temporary support for the spouse who’s foregone a career in order to care for the couple’s children. Someone had to do that and the person who did, and who lost job and career opportunities because of it, again shouldn’t be left with nothing.
But alimony has morphed into an investment opportunity that would make Bernie Madoff salivate. In many cases, it seems that the only calculations courts make is who earns the greater income and, that done, all else follows. The one who earns more pays the one who earns less. And in the Parker/Longoria case that just doesn’t make sense.
In their case, whoever earns the greater income shouldn’t have to pay the other. They both have more now and earn more annually than many people do in a lifetime.
And I’m not even considering the fact that the pair apparently have a mutual pre-nuptial agreement by which they agree to not seek spousal support in the case of divorce.
Nor am I pointing out the fact that they had apparently agreed privately to divorce, but, unknown to Parker, Longoria hastened to file in California whose laws on spousal support are much more liberal than they are in Texas. That makes it look like she’s serious not only about the spousal support, but about violating the terms of the pre-nuptial agreement she signed.
In the press they’ve both announced their intention to abide by the pre-nuptial agreement, but her actions belie her words.
With any luck, this case will help start a long-overdue conversation about the legitimate and the illegitimate reasons for spousal support. Payment by one spouse to support the other should be strictly limited to certain situations. The default position should be that divorce is meant to end a marriage and the obligations of marriage, not prolong them.
Apart from certain narrowly tailored situations outlined above, spousal support post-divorce should be done away with entirely. And no case shows that like the Parker/Longoria one.