Saturday, December 22, 2007

Guess what? Divorce hurts the man too.

This may come as startling news to a public that has been led to believe that women are the ones who suffer financially postdivorce, not men. But the data show otherwise, according to an exhaustive study of the subject by Sanford L. Braver, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University and author of Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths. “The man is in a lot poorer condition than the popular media portray,” he says. “This idea of the swinging, happy-go-lucky, no-worries single guy in a bar…that’s just not it at all.” The misconception was fueled by Harvard professor Lenore Weitzman’s widely cited book, The Divorce Revolution: The Unexpected Social and Economic Consequences for Women and Children in America.

Weitzman’s 1985 tome claimed that postdivorce women and children suffer on average a 73 percent drop in their standard of living, while the divorced men’s standard of living increased by 42 percent. Years later, Weitzman acknowledged a math error; the actual difference was 27 percent and 10 percent, respectively. But Braver says even that figure is based on severely flawed calculations. Weitzman and other social scientists ignored men’s expenses—the tab for replacing everything from the bed to the TV to the house—as well as the routine costs of helping to raise the children, beyond child support. Even the tax code favors women: Not only is child support not tax deductible for fathers, but a custodial mother can take a $1,000 per child tax credit; the father cannot, even if he’s paying. As “head of the household,” the mother gets a lower tax rate and can claim the children as exemptions. If the ex-wife remarries, she is still entitled to child support, even if she marries a billionaire. Indeed, every year men are actually thrown in jail for failing to meet their child-support obligations. In the state of Michigan alone, nearly 3,000 men were locked up for that offense in 2005.


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