Capital Region Legal News

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Gender Gap in Divorce Settlements Is Not What It Seems

Are women being ripped off in some divorce settlements?  

Despite the public perception that women make out well in divorce settlements, this is far from the case. In actual fact, the income of women who worked before, during or after their marriages declines by an average of 20 percent after a divorce, while the income of their ex-husbands rises more than 30 percent after the split. Even more inequitable, 27 percent of separated women are living in poverty --almost triple the rate for men in the same position.

Because, in our society, women are still more likely than men to leave the workforce while raising young children, they suffer the consequences of earning less when they go back to work. In addition, divorce proceedings themselves are, for many, prohibitively expensive. In cases where a great deal of money is involved, some women have found that borrowing large sums to pay for talented lawyers is well worth the cost of the loan since they end up winning much larger assets in the divorce settlement. Of course, not all women are in circumstances where loans are available.

Even more disturbing, although women are frequently awarded child support and/or alimony, they may not be able to collect it. Not only are there too many deadbeat dads trying to avoid paying their exes by any and all means, but there are many men who simply don't earn enough to support two households.

Another problem occurs in cases where the woman has been a stay-at-home mom and becomes ill. She may be unable to receive disability benefits because she has not put in the required period of time in the workplace. Other issues that arise include cases where women have unwisely agreed to marital assets (such as real estate) being put in their husbands' names so, once they separate, they don't have anything to fall back on. Unfortunately, women who have chosen to stay home with their children may become a free childcare resource for their ex-husbands while they themselves struggle to find work that will allow them to tend their offspring or to pay for other caregivers.

Further complicating the situation is that, in cases where there is domestic abuse, women may agree to unfair terms in a divorce just to get away from a malignant spouse.

Unfortunately, even with "no fault" divorce, our society sets up divorce as adversarial. Couples have the choice of going through divorce mediation which is designed to be less adversarial, but often the terms arrived at in this way are not as carefully worked out as those established by attorneys.

If you are considering divorce, please don't hesitate to consult with one of our knowledgeable attorneys at Ianniello Anderson at 518.350.7755 where we serve clients in the Albany, Clifton Park, Glens Falls, Saratoga Springs, Troy and the entire Northeastern NY area with skill and dedication


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