April 12th, 2008 at 8:33 pm
"For just one example, what legal reforms would allow or even require a non-adversarial divorce process?"
It'll come as no surprise to anyone, but my solution to this problem is a simple one. When you are no longer in a relationship you no longer benefit from said relationship. No alimony, period. If one spouse is at home with kids, or for some other reason has no job, the bills for housing and utilities are paid by the earning spouse, for one year. Otherwise, go get a job. It's harsh, but it's the only fair thing to do. Live off your "half" until you get on your feet. If you're retired, well, you have your retirement fund (half of his if you didn't work), just like he does.
Goodbye also to child support, since 50% time with each parent should be the norm, unless otherwise justified in writing on the public record. Expenses and agreed upon amounts for differences in time spent with the kids could be paid into an escrow account. These expenses and amounts are related only to the cost of raising a human being, their former lifestyle notwithstanding, in the metropolitan area of residence (ie, New York, LA, Mobile)...ergo, no more CS awards in the thousands. Child support for children born outside of a committed relationship (ie marriage), or lacking signed consent from the biological father (to be proven via DNA), should be abolished entire.
If the individuals involved want to transfer more cash, go ahead. But this is the maximum I can see as allowable intrusion.
I'd also like to point out an obvious imbalance in the methods used to assess CS and alimony. I'll use my home town as example:
This Province has been economically moribund for decades, actually declining in population from pioneer times. Obviously, CS and Alimony guidelines were established during that time, and it is also clear that these amounts are as close to intolerable as possible on purpose. Makes sense so far. But add economic growth like we are experiencing currently. It's highly sector-focused (oil boom, plus housing boom from people moving back to this province after making money in the one next door), and it's driven up housing prices to the tune of +56% per year. Leaving aside the fact that it made the house I lost (bought for $88,500 - current market value $225,000) that much more painful of a thought, it also drives up rents.
This province has a curious reluctance to increase wages though, plus we're one of the most heavily taxed provinces (being the birthplace of Medicare, you'd expect that one I suppose) ...and everyone knows what taxes do....they go up in good times because people "can afford it".
So what happens? Well, you do get paid more to do your job (not much more, but more), but that only increases your CS/Alimony amounts. Meanwhile, your tax burden gets larger as well. Now, go pay rent that has increased 190% in the last 2 years on a cheque that has increased 3%. Oh, that's right, you were on the edge before. Ok, I guess you can live with your parents.....
And how does one argue for the reduction of payments since the very same economic factors mean the payee "needs" that money too.
See? Brick wall to economic growth...THRIVES on poverty.