This question and a slew of other interesting ones came up in our search terms this week on Divorce Saloon. Someone wanted to know why do women get so greedy when they are getting divorced? How to answer this question without offending both genders?
First of all, I think that divorce is obviously a very difficult and trying time for both men and women. That is universal no matter where in the world these folks live. Now, a lot of divorce battles surround the children and the money. But it would seem that money is usually the more contentious issue in divorce cases because a lot of times, even when the issue on the surface seems to be the kids, beneath the surface it is really about the child support and who has to pay for what and for how long – hence it is really about the money. This i s not always true, obviously. Look at the number of times one parent upschticks with the kids and disappear with no financial help whatsoever. But in a lot of instances, it is true. Money is the underpin in the child custody disputes.
Are women greedy about the money in divorce actions more so than men? Are they “money-grabbing” “gold-diggers”? Well put it this way: in divorce actions both party are looking out for their financial interests and everybody wants the pot of gold. If someone is holding the pot or hiding the pot, the other person has to dig – man or woman – to find it. It is war. They have to fight dirty, they do because neither party wants to be left with “less.” The thing that works against women is that usually the husband makes most of the money in the marriage so he usually controls the pot. This is not always true but it is true most of the time in most marriages today. This crosses social and cultural lines and is true in cross border cases just as in local cases. Men, around the world, tend to make more money than women. This is not a huge newsflash.
Okay. So I am still trying to answer the question. We have established that men make more money most of the time than women do. But in a marriage, all the money is usually pooled together. This is the advantage a married woman has over a single woman. Yes, she is likely making less than a similarly situated man. But she is in a pool, so she is in a higher income bracket. Life is better. She can afford more. It is not usually a situation that “this is mine and this is yours.” It is pooled. It is a marriage.
The problem is that as soon as a divorce petition gets filed, people obviously don’t think in this couply way that they do when they are married and for good reason: They no longer are a couple; they are individuals going their separate ways. Should the pooling of the assets continue after the love breaks down and divorce petitions are filed? It depends on how you look at it. One view is that the pool should continue but only up to the point of the filing of the petition. So this idea of, for example, “life long maintenance” and things like that is out. After marriage, formerly married women are now like other single women. They fend themselves. The pool is now dry.
Now. The original question was “why are women so greedy in a divorce dispute?” You see, it probably isn’t a matter of greed. It is probably more a matter of defending their right to get their portion of the “pool.” And sometimes, frankly, they may appear to get vicious. The reason women probably get such a bad rap as being “greedy” is that at the time to divvy the assets, the partner with the greater earning power – usually the husband – wants to redefine the pool. He no longer wants to pool, in fact. He is an individual and it is his money and why should she get half of his hard earned money? The woman – usually the lesser earning spouse – is like, “oh no, Darling; this was not our deal. We are or were a team and this is 50/50 and I want my half. I want my fair share.” And this is the source of the war and this is why women may appear to be greedy. Both sides want what they think is “theirs.” But what is actually theirs? My take? Whatever you had up to the point of the divorce is in the pool (excluding what you brought to the marriage like “separate property”). The pool should be shared. In what percentage? 50/50 as in community property states; whatever is “fair” as in equitable distribution states. It is a pool whichever way you go. But after that, both men and women should have to fend for themselves unless there is an extenuating circumstance that makes that impossible or impracticable.
The fact is, most of the time, both parties are acting out of fear and desperation more so than greed. They are just defending what they see as their future financial stability. One party wants to hold on to the money, the other party wants to make sure that when the pool dries up, he or she will have a little something – enough so they don’t become like they were before marriage: broke and struggling and penniless (sort of like regular single people). So if you think about it, either both are greedy or neither is greedy.