Divorce Amerikan Style: The Rape of The Male
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Originally, common law was synonymous with Roman Law, which treated marriage and its dissolution as the product of the free will of the parties; not a matter of public or court concern.  Governments did not have the inclination, necessity or audacity to interfere in family matters.  Libertarians consider it arrogant of government to presume sufficient authority over citizens to issue marriage ‘licenses.’  They have a point.  Yet alternatives like the claimed Muslim divorce ritual – saying “I divorce thee” 3 times – is not practical either.

Once-upon-a-time proprietary interest, largely benign and supportive, reposed largely in the male head of household, but eventually the favored-gender pendulum swung to the opposite direction – the extreme opposite direction.  With that pendulum swing, and to enforce it, arose the concept that the powers that be, government or ecclesiastic, are interested parties in marriage – the infernal triangle.

Government interference has eroded the father's position.  Treatment of men in divorce became Kafkaesque.  Examples are multitudinous; one such was a State of Wisconsin law ordering divorced men not to remarry without permission of ex-wives and the court (I believe that law was rescinded), and a 1968 decision decreeing that a husband and wife could not agree between themselves to modify alimony without the imprimatur of the court.  The legal doctrine of Parens Patriae literally makes the State a father.

The marriage contract, in addition to having a certain sanctity (“What, therefore, God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” – Mark 10:9), is a legal instrument specifying fidelity, “for better or for worse.”  But if the little woman wants out for even the poorest of reasons, that’s all that’s needed, fault or no fault.  An unholy alliance of Feminist philosophy, government and the divorce system has been instrumental in relieving women of contract obligations, while assuring them of its advantages and denying them to men.

Perpend Amneus again:  The husband’s major contribution to the marriage is irrevocable.  It cannot be removed retroactively: he has supported his wife, paid her bills, given her a home, raised her standard of living by 73 percent.  But the wife’s major contribution to the marriage, the gift of a family, is removed retroactively in over half of marriages and threatened with removal in all:  She never really gave him the family which was the quid pro quo for his supporting her.  The husband discovers in the divorce court that what motivated him to get married and to labor during the years of the marriage had no permanent existence — it was not a gift but only a loan backed by a woman’s promise — and un-backed by the law.  He discovers that the law which must enforce contracts interprets the most basic contract as not binding on his wife, only on him, and therefore deems it just to deprive him of his most precious possession, his children, probably also of his home and his future income.

While women can walk out of marriage at the drop of a whim, men are expected to stoically bear all sorts of faults in their wives; and male scoundrels who initiate divorce proceedings often incur the wrath of the courts.  Any semblance of justification has become a national joke, unfunny to the victims.  The more one examines the situation the clearer it becomes that viable marriages exist as much in spite of the system as because of it.

Although domestic relations laws are generally fair on their face, the administration of them – that is, their application and interpretation in disputed situations – varies primarily with the sex of the litigants.  Out of some misbegotten sense of chivalry, “Up the woman” is the unstated major premise.  Judicial customs and practices openly violate Constitutional protections under color of law.  For divorcing men there is no ‘due process’, there is no ‘equal protection.’  Customs and practices outrage not only traditional principles of justice, but basic human rights transcending the laws of the land.  As we will see below, it is patently evident that government enforces men’s responsibilities, but not their rights.  Conversely, it enforces women’s rights, but not their responsibilities.

A man is like a solitary pawn, face-to-face with the queen on a chess board.  Like a black man in the South competing for a job 50 years ago, he must be superior just to be considered equal.  Everyday, in brutal violation of common sense and decency, domestic courts dignify the double-think satirized in the book Catch 22 into logic and law.  Incredible and even contradictory judgments right out of Alice in Wonderland are the rule, not the exception. 

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I chose it to mean - neither more nor less." "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things." "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all." - Lewis Carroll

There is sufficient legal precedent on either side of most any issue to justify any decisions judges choose to make, even contradictory ones – anything to favor the woman.

Ordinary men are held in a legal headlock from which there is no escape.  Adversary divorce proceedings are often conducted in the spirit of the Star Chamber or the Inquisition in courtrooms that are a combination of brothel and mortuary.  These Kabuki dances can be so stylized that only occasional, limited variations of issues and circumstances occur.  Players in these hackneyed charades include the female plaintiff — damsel in distress; the plaintiff’s lawyer — her champion; the judge — ostensibly the force of righteousness, wisdom, and impartiality, but more often her champion’s advocate; the male defendant — the villain; and the defendant’s lawyer — the devil’s advocate.

This double standard is quasi-legally possible because divorce courts are “courts of equity,” where ‘judgment’ is the primary basis of issue determination as opposed to ‘courts of law,’ where law, sometimes statute – sometimes case, is the primary basis of issue determination.  So protection of law is largely absent in domestic relations; and judges can do nearly as they wish, supported by no higher authority than that of their own rhetoric.

Appeal is a costly exercise in futility, and only amounts to availing oneself of a pool of prejudice.  A dozen wrong men — all part of the same establishment and tradition — produce as little justice as one.  The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the constitutionality of Georgia statutes allowing alimony only for women.  Yet the federal courts have eagerly entered domestic matters for the benefit of women.

Only the very rich and the very poor can afford divorce.  It is most costly to the vast middle class.  The wealthy, by writing it off already high taxes, are able to transfer the burden to Uncle Sam.  The poor have nothing to lose.  A wife can hire the most expensive lawyer in town to attack her husband, and, adding insult to injury, make hubby pay for it.  Or, unlike husbands, can get help from quasi-governmental sources: the federal Legal Services Corporation and the Legal Aid Society.  While indigent males sometimes obtain free counsel if the opponent is not a woman, it’s almost unheard of where the opponent is a woman.  Legal Services Corporation’s free lawyers represented women (no men, to my knowledge) in 225,000 divorces in 1985 alone.  Meanwhile, men’s rights must be pleaded for by hiring mercenaries.  Into even more mischief, the LSC hands out grants to leftist lawyers to fund ideological lawsuits.  Grantees have sued to keep criminals from being evicted from public housing, to help illegal immigrants get government benefits and to throw out election ballots of military personnel.  President Bush requested a budget of $363,809,000 for LSC for fiscal 2006, an increase of $33 million over 2005.  Not one of his better moves. Received wisdom is that many fathers “desert” families.  George Gilder quaintly assumed that most marital breakdown results from “powerful men” abandoning the wives of their youth and lusting after their young secretaries.   A moment’s reflection would convince him that there aren’t that many powerful men, and that high status men have a lower divorce rate than most other males.  Do so-called “deadbeat dads" walk away or are they expelled?  Mostly the latter.  In truth, a very large percentage of absent fathers have been evicted, either directly or indirectly.


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Last modified: October 12, 2013