Aden stopped by my desk this morning.
I do not know him well; I have just been transferred. But he fell to talking of his past. Aden is not his real name; but that matters little. It is a story I have heard many times before.
Aden expected to be retiring in comfort by next year. No chance now: he was divorced. He lost everything.
His wife planned it all carefully, with good legal advice, moving everything she could into a trust account. He, not seeing it coming, lost his house, his farm, his pension, his kids. Turned out she had been having an affair with another man for some time. She hit him with “everything she could from the high court”; so that anything she did not take was lost to lawyers.
Sadly, I can’t count how many times I have been told the same tale by other men. All men these days, throughout the developed world—Aden is from South Africa--face ruin at any moment at the whim of some woman. We can all only pray that we do not encounter a woman with such intent.
Aden is rebuilding his life, at his late age, with the support of a new Thai wife. I wish him all the luck. By sixty-five, he may yet be able to retire.
But the scars will never go. He was close to tears, despite his best manly efforts, as he spoke of this past. “I should have gone mad. The only thing that held me together was my faith.”
Many others do not survive. Without most people acknowledging it, we are in the midst of a holocaust probably comparable Hitler’s own. A holocaust of middle aged men.
But then, most people in Germany did not acknowledge Hitler’s holocaust either.
Or the much larger one ongoing, of the unborn.
Even apart from the divorce and separation laws, the current laws and responsibilities of marriage are inequitable, and unfair to men. In a nutshell, women have all the rights, and men all the responsibilities.
Something must be done. At a minimum:
If marriage is a contract, it must be enforceable, like any other contract. Nobody should be allowed out of a marriage on their own say-so. They must either obtain the other party’s consent, or prove some grievous fault on the part of the other. No more no-fault divorce.
If fault is proved, this should affect the divorce settlement. There must be some penalty for violating one’s marriage contract.
“Verbal” or “emotional” or other vague newly minted types of “abuse” should not be grounds for divorce.
Physical abuse, if alleged, must be proved by the same rules of evidence as other criminal behaviour.
False allegations of abuse must, at the same time, be actionable.
There must be no discrimination by sex in child custody after a divorce. Fathers must have equal rights with mothers over children. Custody can be determined by fault in extreme circumstances, or be shared fifty-fifty in real terms using any number of reasonable and traditional methods.
There must be no discrimination by sex in the financial settlement. Fathers must have equal claim to the family home in a divorce.
If wives are to have free choice on whether or not to work, husbands must have free choice on whether to support them. Certainly, there can be no alimony.
Legal action on abuse (or adultery) must be equally available to both husbands and wives, without discrimination by sex. Statistics can tell the tale; if charges or convictions for abuse are overwhelmingly against husbands, this is prima facie evidence of discrimination.
Governments must be even-handed in their provision of state facilities regardless of sex. If there are shelters for women, there must be shelters for men. If legal aid or material aid or counseling is available to women seeking divorce or separation, it must be available to men. This is a question of equal protection under the law.
Fathers should not be obliged to pay more in child support after divorce than they would be liable for as father in an intact marriage. (Same for mothers, if they are the ones paying support.) At present, this is the case. It generally gives the wife a financial gun pointed at her husband’s head, and a financial incentive to divorce.
Child support should be tied to visitation rights. Habeus corpus: show me the kids.
Inherited property should be exempted from any divorce settlement. It reverts to the person having inherited it. The same for property owned or indeed expertise earned before the marriage; it is currently far too difficult to exempt such properties or expenses. This is necessary to preserve family traditions and discourage predatory marriages.