A friend of mine (“Amy”) is getting divorced from another woman (“Jennifer”).
Amy is a well-educated, capable person from the middle class, without savings or family money. In recent years, Jennifer has not worked and has focused on the kids more than Amy has. But Jennifer has some family money and is refusing to disclose how much. Jennifer is asking Amy for spousal and child support.
The case has not gone before a judge yet, but it will if Amy and Jennifer cannot come to an agreement. Their attorneys disagree on whether Jennifer must disclose the value of those assets that are not part of marital property. It’s unclear how much money she has, but it’s substantial—at least $500,000—and it could be far more. Amy, in contrast, has been required throughout these proceedings to disclose her income.
If Amy pays Jennifer spousal and child support, she will not be able to save anything. Jennifer will have the house as an asset, along with the rest of her wealth.
Last but not least, Amy initiated the breakup, so making her pay seems to be about emotional issues for Jennifer.
Jennifer calls herself a progressive. But she’s using her privilege to keep all her assets and investments, and this seems to be another example of how the rich get richer and screw the rest of us, even when they are nice liberals.
What are the ethics, for a progressive person, of shielding wealth and protecting privilege in a divorce? And what about the kids? Having one parent struggling financially, while another is sitting on a pot of gold that she won’t touch, can’t be good for a co-parenting relationship going forward.
—Witness to a Train Wreck
The legal system doesn’t have good answers for this family, and this adversarial process isn’t healthy. “If they want to fuck up their kids for life,” says Margaret Martin, a licensed clinical social worker and a couples therapist, “they should absolutely proceed in this direction, especially Jennifer.”