There’s a very negative connotation against women trying to get a fair and equitable divorce settlement – without being labeled as greedy.
Often in high-profile divorces, we see a pattern projected by the media that is not in favor of the wife. How many times have we seen the wife described with these words:
“She took this amount of money from him in a settlement.”
“He lost “x dollars” to her.”
“She wants more than her fair share.”
“Isn’t 2 million enough for her? Why does she need more?”
This attitude trickles down from celebrity cases such as Bobby Flay, Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan to all other levels of income and social class where there is an implied sense that the wife is taking from the husband, rather than simply getting 50% of the assets in a fair settlement.
Often the discrimination is subtle, not overt. The subtle implication is that the wife is grasping for assets, has a sense of entitlement, and that she is taking money from the husband. There is no recognition that the estate is not “his” estate; it is “their” estate.
There is a presumption in most states that anything acquired during the marriage, whether it is a debt or an asset, belongs to both parties, not just one. Yet, only the wife is left in a position of having to justify why she needs a fair settlement, and having to show that she needs to maintain the same lifestyle.
Often mediators put their own feelings about money into the mix, and can forget that this particular spouse is not accustomed to a lower standard of living. If we can start to change the rhetoric that’s used in these high profile cases, women from middle-income and lower-income cases will feel differently about standing up for their fair share as well. I hear women who say, “Maybe I am being too greedy.” It is not greedy to want a fair share of your property.
Changing these patterns is not easy and takes time. It needs to start with mediators and judges taking off their own personal hat and asking what is fair and equitable, based on the numbers in the case, not on their personal opinion of how much money is enough for one person.
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