When a man and a woman separate, there is a stigma the guy gets raked over the coals, having to pay child support (financial assistance to help take care of the child’s needs and lifestyle) and alimony (compensation to the non-working or lesser-earning spouse due to the sacrifices she made in support of the family).
(Incidentally, this dynamic can and does exist in same-sex marriage as well, though not to the extent of opposite-sex marriage.)
But how accurate is this stereotype? If you really want to know, start by realizing it’s a more nuanced situation than simple dollars and cents. There are several factors that make divorce an unpleasant experience for both parties.
Historically, courts have awarded child custody more to women than to men. This factor is where a lot of the “guys get screwed” animus comes from. Because some men would rather have custody of their children, not getting said custody when there’s means and willingness to care for the child results in a lot of male hostility toward the female partner.
But what guys don’t (or won’t) realize about custody is this: it can be a two-edged sword. Being a child’s primary caregiver means more lost productivity, less flexibility in forwarding your career, and a great deal more stress as you deal with finding the balance between what you’re losing or missing out on and maintaining a strong, loving, and supportive environment throughout a growing child’s developmental volatility.
In other words, children change a lot as they develop into adults, and those changes are seldom easy. Women who win custody of their children have to deal with this without the means of support and opportunity men often have following a divorce.
That said, divorce isn’t easy on the guy either. Child support alone can leave little discretionary income if any at all. Factor in alimony and a man in this hypothetical situation will find himself working longer hours for less money. It’s demoralizing, and it can be very difficult to move on with your life.
Furthermore, it can poison the relationship between Mom and Dad in a way that spills out onto the child. Also, when a child is going through a hardship, the non-custodial parent — often the father — wants to help but feels powerless to do so because they’re not always able to be there to act in the best interests of their son or daughter. For a caring parent, this takes an emotional toll regardless of gender.
And while men do seem to fare better financially than women after a divorce, you often wouldn’t know it by looking at the psychological damage divorce does to a father.
The truth of the matter is this: divorce is seldom easy on anyone — man, woman, or child. As such, it’s wrong to try and determine “who has it better?” Instead, parties should, whenever possible, embrace the idea of working together to be fair, equitable, and understanding. Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible. If you are thinking about divorce or ready to file, then you need an attorney who understands all the factors at play. Consider Davis, Ermis & Roberts PC, who, for many years, has provided families with the knowledge and experience to navigate the divorce process without losing heart. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your situation.
[Featured Image by Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center]