“It can’t happen to me” and “This time it will be different,” Florida version

Chatting with a pilot in Orlando, Florida… he found a woman who had profited financially from a brief marriage and was continuing to profit by collecting child support for a young son over whom she had obtained primary custody. After a brief courtship, they were married. Seven years and about a day later (seven years is the minimum length marriage that may entitle a plaintiff to “permanent alimony” (Nolo Press)), he found himself in divorce litigation…

[Note that child support in Florida is potentially unlimited, but not nearly as lucrative as in many states in the Northeast. Where Florida shines, from a plaintiff’s point of view, is in the alimony potential.]

Question: Why do humans imagine that they are special and that the future won’t resemble the past?

10 thoughts on ““It can’t happen to me” and “This time it will be different,” Florida version

  1. What percentage of marriages end up in divorce? If the figure is less than 100% how can one tell from the outset how things will pull out? would you play with a 60/40 chances? what about a 50/50? you make it sound like the guy was a gullible idiot and the gal out for money, though the whole picture might be pretty different.

  2. Who cares what the odds are? Why enter a lopsided contract at all regardless of the odds? No businessman worth his salt would enter contract as lopsided as the marriage contract, yet businessmen do it every day when they get married. It’s always puzzled me, but there it is. The whole divorce rape issue is only now starting to be an issue because women are starting to get screwed too, though it still men in the majority.

    One must take a broader view and recognize that human societies are gynocentric, that is catering to the female of the species – always have been, and likely always will be. That includes societies where women wear burkas. I’d rather wear a burka than have to put up with the shit that ordinary men in those societies have to deal with. Of course, women are always seen as the poor mistreated victims. Take a male-female relationship and enlarge it to civilization scale.

    Feminism emerges to compete with traditionalism when societies reach a sufficient level of economic development and technological advancement, so that a job means a cozy office gig, not coal mine. When job = hard labor women are happy to stay at home and let man “do his duty.” Traditionalism or feminism – it’s a shit sandwich either way.

    The root cause is not political or legal. The root cause is biological.

    “Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat.”
    – Hillary Clinton

    So it’s not the sons and fathers who die, but the women who are the primary victims. Men, stay single 🙂

  3. No marriages, and plan to stay that way, but I’ve got two unsuccessful engagements – 1986 & 1992. I’ve always had as much female companionship and “affection” as I’ve wanted.

    My best friend from childhood initiated a divorce after 20 years of marriage as he was retiring at age 40 from the Air Force. For the past ten years he’s had to pay $800/mo child support for two kids, 50% of his military pension, and $800/mo alimony for the rest of his ex-wife’s life until she remarries. He has no problem with paying the child support and half of his military pension, but the lifetime alimony is killing him.

  4. I hope when you were chatting with that pilot your feet were firmly on the ground. One has reason to question his judgment.

    It is truly bizarre that the marriage/divorce financial laws can exist in their current fashion, yet there they are. Here’s a valuable (and should be obvious) planning consideration: don’t give your children large sums of money, especially outside of a tightly controlled trust.

    If you ignore this, then be prepared for the cascade of horrible consequences- child’s spouse will tend not to work because it’s not necessary when they can now live off of your largess. This dynamic will strain the marriage, and when it fails, whatever is left of your gift will go to attorney’s fees and if there’s still anything left after that then the spouse will argue that the independent wealth of your child means he/she needs more alimony or an unequal division of the marital property because your child is set. You’ve been warned.

  5. Phil, you are not understanding conditional probability correctly. Let’s assume that 50% of marriages end up in divorce. Even just considering primary carers of children, some people will have a financial benefit from the divorce, but not all of them. In addition a number of these people will actually invest the money on the children. Confusingly, some people will ask for a large sum after they have decided to divorce, as a second though. So the number of people who

    1) marry with the actual plan of becoming primary carers of the children
    2) in order to divorce and get a large amount of money

    is a unknown proportion P of the divorcees. In order to use conditional probability to differentiate ‘predatory divorcees’ from people who would have divorced anyway even without getting a penny you need to determine the sensitivity and specificity of the test

    divorced and making a killing out of it

    (making a killing also needs defining). I suspect you’d need multiple sequential tests, and not just one. If you, on the other hand, prefer the approach ‘any risk is too much risk’, that’s a different story (and I might actually agree with you).

  6. Federico: The conditional probability to which I was referring was “If Person X has previously been divorced from Spouse N, what is the probability that he/she will become divorced from Spouse N+1?” This can be computed independent of the motivation for any of the divorces, financial or otherwise.

    [I didn’t mean to imply that the woman of the anecdote was entirely motivated by money. Staying married for 7 years and one day indicates that she was at least aware of Florida law. On the other hand, if she had been entirely motivated by money and had been aware of the laws in all 51 jurisdictions nationwide, she would have pursued other strategies (e.g., pregnancy with a Wall Streeter while on a weekend getaway in Los Angeles, sex with a married dermatologist in Massachusetts, one-night encounter with a successful dentist in Wisconsin, etc.).]

  7. @ Mr G #2 “divorce rape” – very well put (and I’m surprised that this apt and well-known term hasn’t been used in this forum before). Very acute analysis of yours.

    Yes, human societies are traditionally and culturally gynocentric, because what other alternative could there be… would human civilization have progressed better/ farther if we instead were androcentric, genetically and culturally set up to belittle or deny ourselves the benefit of female (if also in part ingratiating), powers of persuasion? The laws of nature know no steady equilibrium of anything (just as circles are but intermittent, fluctuating states of ellipses); hence, given two genders of a species relying on one another for survival, individuals within each will vie for own advantage at the expense of the others. By virtue of their wombs, women are the propagators of all mankind (indeed, in an apocalyptic scenario, as long as there exists a thimbleful of spermatozoa of the species—could be deep-frozen samples, hint-hint—and a single fertile mitochondrial Eve, that combo ought to be capable of repopulating the earth with HER descendants). That women then skillfully mastered the act of leading by proxy, appearing to be eternal underdogs dependent on and subservient to their male bowl fillers (present company excepted ;-)) can not be held against their gender either.

    Forgive this my rant, based on once reading about behavioral psychology of higher primates, in particular contrasting wild chimpanzees from north of the Congo river, with their genetically indistinguishable bonobo cousins south of it (the river making a formidable obstacle to reassembly of the species). Neither bio-, nor a zoologist, I may have mixed some things up, but I distinctly remember that, where one of the ape branches used overt, and preventive displays of aggression to come to the fore, the other used sex signals to defuse conflicts, even between same-cisgender individuals. This was, clearly, a culturally developed trait passed down the generations, with pre-adolescents engaging in simulated sex acts as play and calming therapy. Another sexual custom there, female chimpanzees initiating on average more intercourses with younger/ stronger males, than in the other direction, the scientists ultimately decoded as the future mothers ensuring protection of their kids by as many previously serviced males as possible (or instinctively, if not yet wholly subconsciously, sowing confusion as to who sired which kid—my Sherlock-Holmes-Bayesian contribution to the science!!!!)

    I recall asking myself then—if not in so many words—if that might have been the “natural-born tactic” by which early, smaller, thus more vulnerable females of the hominids managed to temper their male tribesmen to use aggression for defense, rather than domestic offense ;-)) And whether the females’ “promiscuity” leading to confusion of paternity ultimately could have borne the present-day veiling and defacto sequestration of pre-menopausal women in several even highly developed societies.

    PS. Let’s not drag Hillary into this, the rot has started way, way back (when saber-toothed cats hunted proto-humans. The Hello Kitties from hell are gone; we’re still here cooking our own CO₂ apocalypse).

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