Sunday, September 4, 2011

"A Parasitic Class": Alimony Racket - 1925

FULL TEXT: Supreme Court Justice Selah B. Strong’s recent shaking at the alimony props of childless wives stirred up a lively discussion. In ferreting out the causes for divorce, this point of enforced alimony has been curiously overlooked. We believe, with Judge Strong, that the divorce statistics would be appreciably reduced in totals if alimony were administered according to the exact merits of the woman as a wife. And we believe with him that it is the least worthy among women who make excessive alimony demands.

The woman with children is left out of the argument. Where there are children the husband must expect to support them, and the law forces him to do so. Investigation of the merits of some married women with children, in spite of the sentiment about mothers, would put them into a classification with the childless women who want alimony for its spending sake. They are women who would stick to their husbands and give their children undivided homes and parentage if the alimony prospects were less bright. But with the mother love sentiment what it is, it would be a most unpopular move to suggest that the mother share half the expense of raising the children. Not even in an era when the mother is permitted to take every other advantage of equal rights would the idea be tolerated.

There’s no doubt in my mind that children are not infrequently used by unscrupulous wives and mothers to extract excess alimony that they may have more to spend on themselves. All mothers are not what they ought to be, unhappily. But perhaps this world sentiment toward mothers is too fine a thing to let the illusion be crippled by those who take advantage of it. They are in the minority among mothers ‘tis true.

Why an able bodied female should want to live off the bounty of a man for whom she has no further use as a companion I cannot see. Such women are usually able bodied individuals, too – the kind that want their cake after they have eaten it, the kind who’ll run a man into jail if he doesn’t keep them in the luxuries they’ve been accustomed to.

In a study of court records Judge Strong finds that there are 20 separation suits started to every divorce. “Women only want alimony,” the judge comments “They tire of their husbands, get rid of them, but still hold out their hands for cash.” They become a parasitic class.

“In this enlightened day,” he adds “when the sexes are supposed to be equal, I do not believe that childless women should receive alimony. Women today err as much as, and in many cases more than, men.”

[Doris Blake, “Ban on Alimony for Childless Wife is Approved,” Chicago Daily Tribune (Il.), Oct. 6, 1925, p. 21]

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For more revelations of this suppressed history, see The Alimony Racket: Checklist of Posts

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