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216 - Is Alimony Only for Women?

216 - Is Alimony Only for Women? Image

11/08/2021 7:00 pm





















































































































































































































































































































































































































































Leh
Meriwether:



Welcome,
everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. We are your co-hosts
for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by The Divorce and Family Law Firm
of Meriwether & Tharp. Here you'll learn about divorce, family law, and from
time to time, even tips on how to save your marriage if it's in the middle of
a crisis. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out
online at Atlantadivorceteam.com.






Well,
Todd, I think it's amazing that after over 200 shows that we can still do
something we've never done before.




Todd
Orston:



Absolutely.




Leh
Meriwether:



Yeah.
We're going to talk about election law. No, just kidding.




Todd
Orston:



Wow.
This is going to be either a short show or a very uninformative show.




Leh
Meriwether:



No,
I'm just kidding. So today, well, what sparked the topic of today was I saw
this YouTube video the other day where this YouTuber, I forgot, he has over a
million subscribers or something like that, but he had a lot. And he was
commenting about how shocked he was with some comments.






So
what sparked it was Kelly Clarkson was ordered to pay $150,000, as of the
time we're recording the video, was ordered to pay $150,000 per month in
spousal support, alimony and $45,000 a month in child support to her soon to
be ex-husband. And he was shocked at how many women were really, really upset
with this. And it was, the guy needs to go out and get a job. He needs to go
do this. This is ridiculous. No man should ever get alimony. And the responses
were as if they thought that alimony was gender specific, meaning it should
only be awarded to women. And he was shocked by this. He thought, "I
thought this was gender neutral. I thought that it was to help the other
person get on their feet." And I'm paraphrasing here, of course.




Todd
Orston:



Well,
he was really into the hypocrisy angle.




Leh
Meriwether:



Yeah.




Todd
Orston:



But
I agree with you. I mean, he was going into all of these factors and in a
very critical look, basically saying there seems to be some hypocrisy here.
I'm softening this quite a bit, but go ahead. I'm sorry.




Leh
Meriwether:



So
what we're doing differently is normally we put together some show notes and
we get very organized, but Todd and I are going to have a conversation. This
is spontaneous. We found this, we read some articles. So we're going to have
a conversation about alimony. I titled the show Is Alimony Only for Women?
But I think everyone needs to understand alimony. And when I'm going to say
everyone, I'm talking about if... We're going to be talking to the wife that
may be the breadwinner, as well as the husband that may be the stay at home
dad. We're going to talk about these things, we're going to talk about... I
don't know what we're going to talk about. It's a conversation because we
haven't planned ahead. So [crosstalk]. What?




Todd
Orston:



You
are teasing. I mean, we don't even know where this show is going to take us.
[crosstalk] All right. Strap in, people.




Leh
Meriwether:



Strap
in.




Todd
Orston:



So
we're having a conversation. It's a discussion. So please know when you need
to suspend your defensive mechanisms, suspend any... You don't have the right
to get offended in this one. [crosstalk] just listen.




Leh
Meriwether:



Yeah.




Todd
Orston:



Softening
that a little bit. Let me say it this way, we're not taking a side. I mean,
we may express opinions and what have you, but here's the thing, what we're
really trying to do is shed some light or shine some light rather on just a
reality, right? Spousal support is a reality. Well, what is a newer reality
is that there are more and more men who are taking on parenting roles while
the woman in that relationship is the breadwinner. And so with that change,
obviously a lot of times we have situations where a mother who has been the
stay at home parent, who has taken care of everything, has done probably the
harder job of the two, taking care of the family. Basically in a divorce
context has to then say, "Well, hold on because I am dependent on that
person. I need some help."






Well,
the problem is more and more and more we are seeing men who are saying the
exact same thing. I've put a career on hold. I have taken care of kids. I
have been a stay at home parent, and now we're going through a divorce. My wife
has built a career. I need help. And yet, there is this criticism. There is
this at times outrage. "Well, he needs to get a job. He should never ask
for that. Let the woman do what she's doing." And that is a very
interesting perspective, because in a world where we're trying to say
everyone's equal, well that flies directly, at least in my opinion, in the
face of everyone's equal.




Leh
Meriwether:



And
that was the whole point of the YouTuber too was that-




Todd
Orston:



That's
right.




Leh
Meriwether:



Because
alimony is the statute in Georgia and I'm pretty sure every single state out
there it's gender neutral. Actually there was a point where if I'm
remembering correctly, the alimony actually was gender specific. This is
decades ago. But I think there was a point where it was gender specific and
someone may have filed a suit or something. I know the statute has changed,
so it was gender... I'm talking about Georgia right now, was changed so that
it was gender neutral.




Todd
Orston:



I
have a no doubt. I have no doubt because gender roles and the thoughts about
gender and the roles that men should have in a relationship in a marriage,
you go back decades and I can't even imagine a man having the confidence to
go into a divorce situation and say, "But I need to be supported by my
wife," because just social norms at the time and just feelings of I
don't even know, but that macho, "I'm the man. I should be the
breadwinner. This should be my role," going along with all of the other
ridiculous norms about the role of a woman. I can't imagine. I think I would
be safe if I said I would bet there were no situations where a man said,
"I need alimony," but times have dramatically changed.




Leh
Meriwether:



Although,
but despite... I put air quotes, times having changed, you found an
interesting Forbes article and that was from about six years ago or so, but
so Money looked at the census and looked at how many men were getting alimony
versus women. Tell us about that article.




Todd
Orston:



Yeah.
So Forbes in 2014 did an article and it really was on this point. And
actually the speaker in the article, I mean, in the video you were
referencing, he talks about this, but basically at one point they talk about
how of 400,000 people in the US who were receiving post divorce spousal
maintenance, just 3% were men according to the census. Yet 40% of households
were headed by female breadwinners, suggesting that hundreds of thousands of
men would be eligible for alimony, yet didn't receive it.






So
in other words, looking just at those numbers and of course, that's the
problem. If you just look at data in terms of numbers, unfortunately you
don't see the whole picture, but just looking at those numbers, clearly there
was a situation where many, many women were head of household in terms of
income, yet the men, assuming that they were taking care of families, weren't
going out and making the request for spousal support and receiving it. I
think there are some reasons why the article doesn't go into and that's what
we're going to talk about today.




Leh
Meriwether:



Yeah.
So let's get into it. Well, not that we haven't already gotten into it. Every
case is independent. But before I even get into that, I think one of the
biggest challenges is not just when it comes to men in general, because men
often don't even ask for alimony. And that was the point of the article is
that apparently the author of The Honor Code interviewed men, and they didn't
even want to ask for alimony.






Actually,
they may have gone into the reasons why they didn't ask. One of them was,
"Hey, I thought if I didn't ask for alimony, we'd have a better
co-parenting relationship." So there are reasons why men don't do it,
but I know as an attorney, a lot of the judges out there that I've been in
front of over the years, I mean, some of them are becoming less and less
alimony friendly anyways, but if you're representing a man asking for
alimony... Let me put it this way. Every time I ever represented the
breadwinner and the breadwinner was the wife, and if the other side was
asking for alimony, the only time I would tell her to concede on that point
would be I request for attorney's fees because I've seen the judges
absolutely grant that request.






By
the way, in Georgia, an award of attorney's fees is considered alimony. So
I've seen judges award alimony to the other spouse that's in a different
financial position, regardless of gender. But when it comes to post-divorce
alimony, I had never seen a judge... Not saying it didn't happen in Georgia,
but I had never seen it and we fought it. When I say fought, that's the
wrong... We held firm in our position that our client was not going to pay
alimony. And when we come back, we're going to continue to talk, have a
discussion about, is alimony only for women?






I
just wanted to let you know that if you ever wanted to listen to the show
live, you can listen at 1:00 AM on Monday Mornings on WSB. So you can always
check us out there as well.




Todd
Orston:



Better
than counting sheep, I guess. Right?




Leh
Meriwether:



That's
right.




Todd
Orston:



You
can turn on the show and we'll help you fall asleep.




Leh
Meriwether:



There
you go.




Todd
Orston:



I'll
talk very soft.




Leh
Meriwether:



Welcome
back, everyone. This is Leh and Todd, and we are your co-hosts for Divorce
Team Radio, a show sponsored by The Divorce and Family Law Firm of Meriwether
& Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out
online Atlantadivorceteam.com. And if you want to read a transcript of this
show or go back and listen to it again, you can find it at
divorceteamradio.com.






Well
today, we are having a discussion about alimony and in particular, we're
having a discussion how, in many ways, even though the statute is gender
neutral, it's application traditionally as far as our experience, has not
been gender neutral. And in fact, we have found somebody had actually looked
at this. I said six, it's actually seven years ago, looked at the census and
found that a vast, vast, vast majority of the men don't even ask for alimony
when if the gender roles have been reversed, the woman would have been asking
for alimony.






So
it's very interesting. Where I left off, I was saying, when I represented
the... If I were to represent a woman who was the breadwinner and the other
side was asking for alimony, we held firm on that. And because unless I had
gotten some different information about the judge we may be in front of, but
the judges just weren't... It didn't matter if it was a woman or a male
judge. They were all of the same opinion... Not opinion. That sounds wrong,
but inclination might be the better term to just not award men alimony. And
that just had been my experience. So knowing that information, we would hold
firm on that and pretty much every time the other side would back down. They
would settle without getting alimony.






So
it's one of those very interesting situations. Of course, the ex-husband in
the Kelly Clarkson... He's not an ex yet, but soon to be ex-husband, Brandon
Blackstock, held firm on his position where he wanted spousal support and
alimony, and he won it, at least on a temporary basis. So Kelly Clarkson, who
according to court documents, makes $1.9 million per month has to pay him
roughly $200,000 per month in alimony and child support. So some people who
are criticizing the word called it manimony. [inaudible] I'd never heard that
before.




Todd
Orston:



Me
either, but look, let's forget about Kelly's case for a moment, and we've
done shows on celebrity and the uber wealthy when they go forward with and go
through a divorce. It's a different set of rules, because it's hard for most
people to wrap their head around $200,000 until you start analyzing it
through that lens of, yeah, but she makes 1.9 million a month and she's
living a certain lifestyle that requires money, right?






I
mean, I guarantee you they're not living in a double-wide driving a 10 year
old Ford Focus. Okay? So they are living a certain lifestyle, a lifestyle you
and I and 99.999% of the people in the world can't even fathom. So let's put
that aside for a second. And going to experience, I agree with you. It was
eyeopening because it doesn't come up very often. Statistically speaking,
most of the time when I have to deal with spousal support, I'm representing a
wife who has been a stay-at-home mom and needs some level of assistance, but
I have had situations and I've had cases where the roles were reversed and
there was a wife who had a career, made significant money, and the husband,
the father, stayed home. And it was eye opening to me at the time.






One
of the other reasons that we felt that this show would be appropriate, that
it's very interesting that the pushback in a case that I had where it was
clear for, I think in that situation it was about seven to eight years where
the husband had not worked and did everything. In other words, that a
stay-at-home parents should do, handled all of those responsibilities. And
yet, there was significant pushback from every level. I mean, not the court,
but leading up to a court appearance, there was significant pushback
basically with opposing counsel starting with, "Tell him to go get a
job." And my immediate response then, and it has not changed, was,
"What do you mean? If roles were reversed and I represented the mother,
you wouldn't be saying that to me. You wouldn't be starting out the
conversation with, 'He's a man. Tell him to go get a job.'" You'd be
saying, "Hey, how long is it going to take? I understand she hasn't been
working for a number of years. All right, let's talk about amounts. Let's
talk about budget. Let's talk about things."






But
starting off with that aggressive, "He's a man." Well, they didn't
say that, but basically tell him to go get a job that it was to me
mind-blowing. It was, I don't understand the inequality.




Leh
Meriwether:



I've
heard that statement, grow a pair and get a job.




Todd
Orston:



Right.
Right.




Leh
Meriwether:



And
that's a quote. I'm not saying who said, but-




Todd
Orston:



And
the article goes into that. It goes into some of the reasons and those norms,
those gender specific norms that society still embraces to some degree.
You're a wife, you are a nurturer, you're a caregiver. You're taking care of
the family. And of course the man is the breadwinner and go out and provide.
Okay, I understand, but gender norms just because it's thought of as a norm
doesn't mean it's right and it definitely doesn't mean it's right now in '21,
all right, where basically we have more and more and more women who are...
Listen, I mean, let's not even talk about intelligence. I think women are far
smarter than we are. So let's put that aside, but there are more and more
like my wife who is an exec in a company and they are doing great work,
making good money, and what? We're still going to embrace that age old norm
and misbelief that men can't provide?






There
are men who are caregivers and they are dependent. And that's what it comes
down to. That's one thing the article, like I was saying, was missing. Where
I'm reading it going, "Okay, I understand the norms. I understand the
macho men not wanting to ask for it because I'm a man, I should be able to
provide for myself." But more and more courts I think are leaning
towards that equality. It's going to take time because the argument is sound
and this is what I've found, where it's stop looking at man woman and start
thinking about, is there a need? And if we can show that there is a need and
that need includes how long will it take you to go out and get a job? But
that goes for women as well.




Leh
Meriwether:



Right.
And that's what I've been seeing too. I've been seeing judges leaning more
and more away from alimony. I remember there was a judge in one of our
counties, incredibly smart judge, but everyone knew that she was not a fan of
alimony. She worked her way up through law school. She raised her kids while
she was in law school and had a job. And so her attitude was, "If I can
do it, you can do it." She was pretty gender neutral when it came to the
application of alimony, but almost no one got alimony in her courtroom. And
if it was, the most I ever saw was three years alimony. And that was the most
I ever saw from her.




Todd
Orston:



[crosstalk]
rehabilitative. It was very rehabilitative in terms of [crosstalk] get on
your feet.




Leh
Meriwether:



Right.
Don't be dependent on this other person. Everyone knew her position. They
were so aware of it that they would often ask for a jury trial. If the person
represented the wife in that case with her as the judge and they knew that
literally four doors down there was a judge that in the same scenario would
award 18 years of alimony, they would ask for a jury trial. And I'm not
kidding about that. And the reason we know that is every year, well, until
the pandemic, we had this wonderful thing called a Family Law Conference here
in Georgia and one year was a wonderful year where almost the whole... It was
three solid days of just all the family law lawyers in the state, not all,
but a lot of them got together, like 500 and we learned.






And
this particular one had a series of judges get up on the bench and for two
days straight, it was just judges panels. And they were getting into
hypotheticals and each one of them... It was funny too, because the lawyers
had these key pads and then they would pick what they think the outcome
should be. And then the judges would state their outcomes and gave their
opinions.






And
so on the panel, there were two judges from the same county, and this was a
large county. I can't remember if it was 10 or 12 superior court judges at
the time. So a lot of judges that heard these cases and one of them and on
the same fact pattern awarded 18 years of alimony and the other one only
three. So that's a very stark difference. And why it's important to talk to a
lawyer. I mean, definitely want to hire a lawyer, but if you can't afford
one, talk to a lawyer about what alimony might look like with the judge that
you have because it makes an enormous difference. And when we come back,
we're going to continue our discussion on whether alimony is only for women.




Todd
Orston:



Hey
everyone, you're listening to our podcast, but you have alternatives. You
have choices. You can listen to us live also at 1:00 AM on Monday Morning on
WSB.




Leh
Meriwether:



If
you're joining the show, we would love it if you could go rate us in iTunes
or wherever you may be listening to it. Give us a five star rating and tell
us why you like the show.






Welcome
back, everyone. This is Leh and Todd, and are your co-hosts for Divorce Team
Radio, a show sponsored by The Divorce and Family Law Firm of Meriwether
& Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out
online Atlantadivorceteam.com. And if you want to read a transcript of this
show or go back and listen to it again, you can find it at
Atlantadivorceteam.com.






Well,
today we're talking about really the question is, is alimony only for women?
Now from a legal perspective, the answer should be no, because the statutes
are gender neutral, but we're talking about the practical application that
not only have we seen personally, but people have reported on. Forbes did an
article several years ago and looking at stats and found that men almost
never get alimony or a lot of cases don't even ask for it.






And
the whole show was sparked by a roughly $200,000 award of alimony and child
support to Brandon Blackstock, the soon to be ex-husband of Kelly Clarkson
and how it sparked a lot of outrage that this man got alimony. But there
shouldn't be outright. There shouldn't be a surprise. I'm talking about in
general from a legal perspective, because the statute's gender neutral. So-




Todd
Orston:



Yeah.
I mean, let's put it this way because I don't want to be hypocritical. We've
done shows before about celebrities and we did an entire show about support
demands made by the non-earning spouse in situations like Kelly Clarkson's,
where we're talking about they make so much money it's ridiculous. Okay?




Leh
Meriwether:



Yeah.




Todd
Orston:



And
for instance, Britney Spears and K Fed or whatever he calls himself. As you
can see, my voice already changes. The contempt in my voice, but where he
came in and he was making a demand for a modification of support asking for
significantly more. So on one level, on one side, Britney Spears makes tons
of money. He's coming in demanding more. The criticism was not about whether
30,000 is too much or 60,000 is too much or whatever. It's all crazy to me,
but this was also a situation where he's making these demands. And meanwhile,
he's throwing parties and he's doing other things and it wasn't truly child
support. He was asking in the context of child support. And so I don't want
to be hypocritical because in Kelly's case, listen, if I represented her
husband, we'd be doing the same thing. We'd be looking at budgets. We'd be
looking at how much money she makes. And then we'd be saying, "Okay,
well, hold on. He does have a need. His budget is X."






Meanwhile,
most of our clients where we look at a budget, it ain't X. It's a lot lower
than X. But his budget with cars and mansions and trips and whatever is going
to be much higher. There was another, obviously with Dr. Dre and his divorce.
His wife made a request and got, what was it? I think it's like asked for two
plus million a year. Okay? Yeah. I mean, ridiculous numbers. Can I live off
of that? Yeah, I can and probably I can take care of many of the other people
on my street, but I didn't live that lifestyle. So when you start looking at
the budget, attorneys are going to... That's what we're going to do. We're
going to present to the court an analysis and say, "Hey, here is what
their or my client's current budget is and this is therefore what the
temporary need is."






And
that translates then later to what my client's permanent budget is going to be
after post divorce and what the need is going to be. That's where the
argument comes in. What is reasonable? What is appropriate? And what does the
other party have the ability to pay? And so, but when you're dealing with
these big, big, crazy numbers, it's easy for people to look at the number and
go, "Can you imagine?" Well, yeah, I can because I've also seen
many of the cases where the man... In the traditional gender role, the man
was the breadwinner, made millions and millions, and no one even blinked an
eye that his wife who was dependent on him made a very sizable request. So
what we're really talking about is just the gender equality.






Is
there truly gender equality or at every level, social level, legal level? Is
there going to be pushback against a man? And should there be pushback
against that man who says, "I'm dependent and I need some help?"




Leh
Meriwether:



I
mean, if we're following the law, there shouldn't be any pushback. And I want
to add this too. So I've had scenarios where... Let's say I have a case where
the one spouse makes 200,000 and the other spouse makes 100,000. Now, clearly
you've got a disparicy, disparity. Disparicy? Disparity.




Todd
Orston:



Just
make up words. I mean, it's fine. I mean, who's listening, right? I mean,
it's-




Leh
Meriwether:



[crosstalk]
words. So in incomes, a one literally makes twice as much as the other, but
in those scenarios, I don't see that as an alimony case because the other
one's still making $100,000 a year, which is higher, twice the amount of the
average income in the United States. I mean, as we're recording this or maybe
as a... Recording it last year, but I haven't looked at the average in a
couple years, but from my memory, that's over twice the average personal
income of one person in the country. So I don't see that as an alimony case.
I see where it comes into play as who takes a greater percentage of perhaps
the debts. So if one person's making 200,000, and this is absolutely gender
neutral, it doesn't matter whether I'm representing the husband or wife. When
I'm looking at someone, the person on the other side and going back to your
point, Todd, it's about need. And this person has $100,000 a year in income.
They should be able to take care of their needs.






Now,
if there's this big debt they accumulated during the course of their
marriage, then I think a lot of times people still push for a 50/50 split,
but it's not unheard of. So if you represent the man and the man asks for the
wife who makes twice as what he does to take on two thirds of the debt and
he'll take on a third of the debt, I don't see people really getting upset
with that. I mean, they argue about it, not from a, like what we talked about
earlier, that gender based response. It's not a gender based response. It's like,
"Hey, look, here's where we are. We're just going to split these things
50/50." It's a position people take not based on any sort of traditional
gender role position. Am I making sense?




Todd
Orston:



Oh
no, I mean barely, but yeah.




Leh
Meriwether:



I
was worried about that.




Todd
Orston:



No,
no. No, again, it comes down to a number of factors, including budget and all
of those things. Look, I also have seen situations where someone comes in...
To use your example, 200,000, 100,000. If that $100,000 person is my client,
I can almost guarantee you I'm telling them it's a non-alimony case. We can
go through the analysis. I can look to see, and I actually had this
conversation with someone just a few days ago where what I said to that person
was, "Look, if you come in..." I think the numbers were a little
bit different to reflect that person's specific situation, but using this,
200 to 100, 100 is going to be enough for you to pay your bills.






Now,
if you told me that you make 100 and your spouse makes significantly more,
all right? If you make 100 and they make a million or even 500, 600,000 on a
temporary basis, might that open up the door to an alimony demand? Yeah,
because again, we have to look at the budget. We have to look at what your
need is. We have to see is that 100,000 going to be enough to support you at
the level that you are used to. And I'm not saying it's a guarantee because
the judge might say, "You don't need a third Porsche. You don't need to
go on nine trips a year."






But
the point is at least the door's open. 200, 100, I can tell you I normally
will tell people, "The door's not open, or at least I don't believe so.
You may find an attorney who says something different, but then you have to
do that cost benefit analysis. How hard am I going to fight? How long am I
going to fight? How much money am I going to throw at the fight to get to
that answer? Is it worth me spending 15,000 in legal fees to try and get X
amount of dollars in monthly support?"






And
there's no guarantee, especially if you have significant income already,
there's no guarantee that it's going to win. So these are all the things that
an attorney's going to start thinking about. You can't just race in and go,
"Well, he or she makes more than me. I'm demanding alimony." That
doesn't win the day for you.




Leh
Meriwether:



And
you also have to consider, which was referenced in the article, how much is
that battle going to cost you in a co-parenting situation? If you have kids,
if you have that knock-down, drag-out battle to get some alimony, is that
going to create a lot of tension down the line in your relationship when it
comes to your children? I've seen women to have that analysis too when
alimony was almost a no brainer for them. They took less because they thought
it was important for their long-term co-parenting relationship. When we come
back, we're actually going to talk about alimony tips.






I
just wanted to let you know that if you ever wanted to listen to the show
live, you can listen at 1:00 AM on Monday Mornings on WSB. So you can always
check us out there as well.




Todd
Orston:



Better
than counting sheep, I guess. Right?




Leh
Meriwether:



That's
right.




Todd
Orston:



You
can turn on the show and we'll help you fall asleep.




Leh
Meriwether:



There
you go.




Todd
Orston:



I'll
talk very soft.




Leh
Meriwether:



Welcome
back, everyone. This is Leh and Todd, and we are your co-hosts for Divorce
Team Radio, a show sponsored by The Divorce and Family Law Firm of Meriwether
& Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out
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Todd
Orston:



All
right. So let's talk about tips. By that I want to preface it with these are
tips that would apply to a stay-at-home mom, a stay-at-home dad. I mean, some
of the tips are going to be more focused on that gender issue, but again,
this show, and I'm not trying to be defensive here, but we're not pushing for
men to ask for alimony. That's not what this is about. It is simply us
talking about a reality, a reality that roles have changed over the years,
meaning there are more men who are stay-at-home mom... Stay-at-home moms. Stay-at-home
parents.






And
yet, for some reason, either in their own minds or in the minds of others,
there's still this expectation that you should be self-supporting. Even
though you have taken on certain roles in the family, that you should not be
able to or should ask for any kind of spousal support from your partner. So
these are tips that I'm trying to be gender blind. So number one, I would
probably start with it's all about the budget. Start there. Put all these
other thoughts aside in terms of, first of all, if you are the mom, obviously
it's about the budget.






It's
about what are you going to need in order to survive financially speaking?
And focus on that. But if you are the father, number one, focus on your
budget. Show why you need what you say you need. And if you can focus on that
budget, if you can prove that you have a need and don't have access to the
funds necessary to support yourself, that's going to be the step, the most
important step that you take, because that's going to be the evidence that
you need to convince even a judge, especially a judge who might have these
preconceived notions regarding gender and support to prove to that judge,
"Hey Judge, I need some help," because that's what alimony at its
core is. It's financial help. And so if you focus on the right things like
budget, that's going to put you in a good position to argue successfully to
opposing counsel, opposing party, and even a judge that, "Hey, Judge, I
need some help here." And we've won that argument numerous times.




Leh
Meriwether:



I
think the secondary thing, so that would be the first is putting together
your budget, showing what your need is. I think there is a secondary element
that you absolutely... It's probably as important as the first that you need
to have to overcome what I might call a gender bias. And that is gather your
proof that you really were the stay-at-home dad. And what I mean by that is,
let's put this way. I've seen cases where a dad claimed to be the
stay-at-home dad, but then when you start looking at the school records and
the medical records, he never took the kids to the doctor. It was the wife,
while at work, would pick up the phone, would call and schedule the
pediatrician appointments and take time off from work to take the kids that a
pediatrician.






And
there was days where the dad actually dropped the kids off at daycare so he
could go play golf or something. So-




Todd
Orston:



So
it's focus on stayed home, not dad.




Leh
Meriwether:



Right,
right. Exactly. And so in this scenario, when that evidence came out, the
lawyer on the other side backed off his request for alimony because the
position was, yeah, he may have been a stay-at-home dad or a stay-at-home
husband, but he wasn't a stay-at-home dad. You know what I mean?




Todd
Orston:



That's
right.




Leh
Meriwether:



He
wasn't a stay-at-home parent. Let's just use a gender neutral term. He was
not a stay-at-home parent. He was not parenting where you flip the scenario
and often you see the mom. When you see the stay-at-home mom, she really was
doing all the stay-at-home mom... The parent stuff. School, making sure the
kids are getting their homework in on time, going to the parent teacher
conferences. Of course, make sure the husband knew about when it was going to
be, so the husband could be there. Just because you have a need, if the
reason you've been staying at home because, and I hate... This is from a
judge. So don't bash the messenger, if you are being lazy and just not
getting a job, but the other parent who has a full-time job is also doing
most of the parenting duties, you're probably not going to get alimony.




Todd
Orston:



Yeah.
And that's a really good point because we've seen that quite often actually.
And even in more traditional situations where it is clear that the
stay-at-home mom, the kids are 14 and 17, and the kids are rarely at home.
And the argument in front of the court is, "Well, I need to be there for
the kids." And it's like, "The kids are never there. They are kind
of self-supporting." And by the way, on the flip side, dad who is
working is also coaching and doing X and doing Y. I'm going to hone your
statement to say you have to make sure you hone your argument and you have
the right facts to support your claim.






You
need to make sure that you are going in there and able to prove, "Hey, I
am working for this family. I am doing everything I can to keep the family
moving forward and keep the kids healthy and fed and dealing with their
medical needs, their educational needs, everything." Because if it is
just an issue of laziness, that's going to come into play.




Leh
Meriwether:



Right.
And so, another thing to think about would be, and I really have seen this
before where the husband was truly the stay-at-home, not just parent, but
they were the support for the wife. The wife just had a better career
opportunity. A decision was made in the family that the husband was going to
take on the primary parent role, but that also meant the primary support role
for the wife, which you traditionally see in a reversed way. So he took care
of all the dry cleaning. So he made sure his wife always had the right suits
or what she was wearing for work in her professional setting. He took care of
the dry cleaning. He had the food ready on the table. He actually cooked the
dinners. Sometimes he'd put together lunches for his wife to have so she
didn't eat out.






So
there was this incredible supportive role there, not just in a parenting
role, but a support for the spouse role and the [inaudible] scenario. I mean,
sometimes I've seen cases where the wife still didn't want to pay alimony,
but you saw her give a greater portion of the marital estate instead, which
in some scenarios is more advantageous because... Well, and this is before
they changed the tax laws. But years ago, alimony was tax deductible and it
was taxable to the recipient.






And
so receiving equitable division, a greater portion of the estate, let's say
you got an extra 100 grand out of the sale of the home, that's more
advantageous than receiving $100,000 in alimony because there's no taxes on
the money out of the sale of the home. So there's always if you have that
support put together, maybe you don't get alimony, but you get a greater
portion of the equitable division.






And
again, going back to, Todd, your first statement, it's so important to
understand your budget, because once you understand your financial situation,
then maybe you negotiate for a greater portion of the marital estate instead
of alimony.




Todd
Orston:



Yeah.
And the final tip that I would say is whether we're dealing with a husband,
wife, mother, father, man, woman, put issues of gender aside, really focus on
that need because too many times I see situations where someone for various
reasons decide not to go and fight for alimony that they do desperately need,
budgetarily speaking it. And then they get themselves into trouble.






If
it's a man, because of some sense of ego, not going to ask for it or a woman
because she just wants to get through the case. Whatever the case might be,
whatever the situation might be, put those things aside. When we say focus on
your budget, I mean, truly focus on your budget. I'm not trying to belabor
the point, but if you have a need, understand that need's not going to go
away simply because you ignore it, simply because you don't make that
request. We've seen too many people get hurt by doing that.




Leh
Meriwether:



Exactly.
So I think today was a good day, Todd.




Todd
Orston:



I
think so too. I mean, I do have one final tip.




Leh
Meriwether:



All
right.




Todd
Orston:



Yeah.
Become a pop star. I suggest that for everybody. I don't know how practical
that tip is, but if you can suddenly make... I'll be honest with you. I'm
going to start singing as soon as this show is over, because-




Leh
Meriwether:



Just
wait until it's over with because nobody will listen to us again.




Todd
Orston:



I
really want to make 1.9 million a month.




Leh
Meriwether:



That
would be nice.




Todd
Orston:



I
think I could pay some bills.




Leh
Meriwether:



Yeah
and I wouldn't mind paying alimony if I was making that much.




Todd
Orston:



That's
right. Exactly. Well, all right. That's my only tip.




Leh
Meriwether:



Good
tip. Everyone, thanks so much for listening. I hope that you got something
out of this conversation and hopefully you're not having to go through a
divorce, but if you are, hope you got something out of this conversation and
thanks so much for listening.