Give Me My Money, Honey: Should Women be Forced to Pay Their Ex-Husbands Alimony?

May 1, 2012  |  

So allegedly Seal is looking for an even split in the marriage.

According to Bossip;

“HEIDI KLUM’s divorce from SEAL is erupting into an ugly battle as the “Kiss From a Rose” singer prepares to go after a huge chunk of her $70 million fortune, say sources. The 38-year-old supermodel filed for divorce April 6, stating they have a post-nuptial agreement, which means they agreed to keep their assets completely separate during their marriage. But Seal has struck back, filing his own documents that make no mention of their post-nup, yet note that California is a community property state — which could entitle him to half of the beauty’s megabucks. “Even though they may have had a post-nuptial agreement, it appears that Seal is going to challenge it,” said a legal strategist. “If he is successful, it could mean big bucks for him in their divorce.

Man, it sure does suck to be married in California.

I kid of course (but then I don’t) however whenever a celebrity divorce makes the pages of a gossip magazines, the discussion that immediately follows involves debate over spousal support and alimony and who deserves what and how much. Interestingly enough, the debate usually centers on some high-profiled celebrity man and his low-profile wife. Public discussion about what should become of communal property generally splits among gender lines: men folk will say, “Why does Kobe’s wife get half? She didn’t win any championships!” Whereas the women will strike back, “Vanessa is entitled to half because she raised the children, held the household down and spent years standing by his side through all his extra-martial affairs.”

All legitimate points but what happens when the breadwinner of the celebrity couple happens to be a woman? Well than that is a whole different story there. Most of the reaction I’ve seen centered on women calling Seal a dirt bag loser for wanting his slice of the matrimony pie. While the men folk, who once were so adamant against spousal support, suddenly have a change of heart and sympathy for the plight of the househusband.

Aside from the Kiss from a Rose song, which I only know from the Batman movie, I can’t recall another song from Seal -but I heard/read he has sold more than 20 million albums.  And I, and perhaps a few others, haven’t really heard anything professional from the Nigerian/Brazilian singer besides being the arm piece to his much more famous and financially astute wife, who has managed to flip her modeling career into a successful reality TV show, among other things.  According to Forbes, Klum has earned $20 million in the last year alone, making her the second-highest paid model.  So it would make sense that is spousal support is coming, Seal would be the recipient, yet folks still have a hard time accepting it.

Westernized, traditionally speaking, men have been the prime breadwinner in the household, therefore the ruler of the family. He was responsible for management of all marital property including his wife, who depended on him to provide her sustenance.  Therefore alimony came about to ensure that the wife was taken care of after divorce. Remember in the old times, women could not own property outside of a Singer sewing machine.

So if a woman’s husband left her, there was a strong possibility that she would be destined to extreme poverty and be literally penniless in the streets.

But times have indeed changed and as we enter the second or third wave of feminism, we are beginning to see a significant number of women, not only reaching financial equality with men, but in some cases, surpassing the opposite gender on the salary scale.  According to a study by the Pew Charitable Trust, 22 percent of men made less money than their wives in 2010 – an 18 percent increase since the 1970s. In some instances, these new financial achievements for women have also been accompanied by gender role reversals in marriages where the woman is outside the home, grinding for the bacon, while the man rears the children and takes care of the homestead.

But like most marriages in the United States, there is a high chance that they will head to divorce. And with that comes more men seeking alimony from their much wealthier spouses. Consider former 98 Degree singer, Nick Lachey, who sought – and was eventually denied – spousal support from ex-wife pop singer Jessica Simpson.  And then there was Janet Jackson, who had to pay her ex hubby Rene Elizondo $15 million, give him the couple’s Mercedes and their five-bedroom Malibu beachfront home.  Not to mention Kirstie Alley, Madonna and Britney Spears all were court-ordered to cough up money each month to…ahem…maintain their ex-hubby’s lavish lifestyles.

As many women in America can go to college, own our own homes and earn big bucks in the corporate world just like men, they can also end up paying their partners hundreds to even thousands of dollars a month in alimony, just like men. Unfortunately it’s the gift and the curse of independence and equality. I,for one, am not in favor of ending spousal support. Despite the advancement in gender equality (at least the ability of a woman to live independently), there are some women – and men – who really need it and had a previous agreement with their spouse that they would stay home and raise the children/tend house. But as we all know, not everyone who gets spousal support necessarily deserves it. Some folks are just looking for a meal ticket. But that’s why it is important that folks, especially folks of means, understand that when you take the vows to spend your entire life with someone, it means the house, the car and the bank accounts too. If not, well you better learn from Klum’s mistake and get a pre-nup. Oh yeah, women qualify for those too.

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