On Gender
Politics

 

No Such Thing As Material Property


I dreamed about a divorce last night. The judge leaned down over the couple and said: “John, you came to provide the intellectual strength of the union. Your wife having freed you from the constraints of social obligations, you became more methodical and thoughtful, your mind rich with knowledge and ideas. “Give half your brain to Shirley.

“Shirley, you provided the social wealth. You acquired many friends for the two of you, John being somewhat dry and introverted. Stop seeing half of them. They are only for John now, whether he uses them or not. And stop laughing by fifty percent. With the security John provided, you discovered and provided that kind of joy thing. Knock it off. We’ll be keeping count.”

Any relationship is a balance of many dimensions: sex, humor, activities, and yes, money and property. It is a set of trade-offs, all combined and balanced.

If we equally divide the marital assets – whether those brought in or acquired during the marriage – fairness can only exists in dividing all, equally. For if you only take one – any one: the physical realm (property), social, or intellectual – and divide only that “equally,” someone is going to be cheated. It is not equal at all and we create a winner and loser and incentive for divorce.

This is the inherent, structural unfairness to our current divorce practices. Either divide all assets of the relationship equally, not just the material ones, or divide none. Either way is the only way both parties come out even.

If we divide all assets, then ensure that both equally retain what they were receiving and equally loose what they were providing, though I don’t know why this should be expected. If we divide nothing, both will equally lose whatever was being received, but equally retain all they can provide to another relationship. This would be as though the marriage, ah, ended. You know, like divorce.

Dividing only one asset, cheats. It can only possibly cheat. This creates cause for resentment if not motivation for murder, which one would think we are trying to do with this practice.

I suggest that upon divorce we presume nobody owes anyone anything: that each individual is always responsible for them self, that we remove the enmeshment view of a married couple and see it as a spiritual union only, not some material / business partnership.

Lawyers will always want everything equated to dollars and presuppose what exchanges took place. Property is what gives them any role in divorce – the only thing that does – then turns children into property to fight over too. All to only one, none to the other.

But the total balance sheet of a relationship is solely up to the individual, upon which it is not for society to pass judgement. A relationship is a combination of many personal choices, not public business.

I would never suggest that a spiritual union does not have its physical expression. If it did not, it would not be so vital that fathers have as much direct involvement with their children as mothers. Any spiritual union must have its physical expression, but you cannot divide the material expression alone and assume you’ve fairly divided the relationship’s assets.

And why do so for marriage unless also for friendships, unless the purpose of marriage is to gain property? Is that what we wish to encourage?

“Marital property” is a figment of the legal system, purely to invent itself. There is no such thing. The hypocrisy is obvious as a couple does not equally assume remaining debt upon divorce. It is an excuse to extend female dependence upon men beyond marriage.

©2007 KC Wilson

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To nourish children and raise them against odds is in any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons. - Marilyn French

 

 K.C. Wilson is a social commentator and author of Where's Daddy? The Mythologies Behind Custody-Access-Support, and the e-books: Male Nurturing, Co-parenting for Everyone, The Multiple Scandals of Child Support, and Delusions of Violence: The Secrets Behind Domestic Violence Myths. For his personal life, he prefers anonymity. He writes as a nobody, for he is not your ordinary divorce expert with the usual credentials. He is not a lawyer or psychologist, he is not now nor has he ever been a member of the Divorce Industry. K.C. is simply a thinker and researcher, for the issues are not legal, but human, social and common to all. When change is indicated, should we turn to those that the very status quo which is to be questioned has promoted to "expert?" Society's structures are up to society, not a select few. So his writing is for and about you, the ordinary person. K.C. prefers to be known as simply one himself, and that is how he writes. Find out more at wheres-daddy.com

 



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