Some back story. When TDWM1 (The Darling Wife Mark 1) and I had met up, she was a single mother of two children, working full time and going to nursing school. And, yes, she was successfully pulling that off. Once it was plain that our relationship was going places, well, I invited her to give up her apartment, move in with me, and let me support everybody. I made as much money in one OT shift, as she made as a nursing aid over an entire week. Or two. I told her, “You can always make a buck. You will not get a second chance to make that grade.”
She accepted my offer, completed Nursing school, got licensed, and we lived happily ever after. Or, at least, several years, happily (or so I thought).
So, fast forward to The Divorce. Let me admit, early in my tale, that she could have been way, way WAY more wretched than she elected to be. For example, had she alleged (falsely, but nonetheless she could have alleged…) that I had threatened her, well, a personal protective order was routine in such events, and until I successfully proved to the judge’s satisfaction that I had NOT threatened anyone, well, all my firearms would have to find new, happy homes. That is one example of wretchedness that she passed by.
On the other hand, getting back to my story, TINS ©, TIWFDASL ©…well, OK. There I was in a courthouse conference room with The Plaintiff (en route to transitioning from TDWM1 to The Wretched EX), her attorney, my attorney and me. Her attorney had just finished describing one of their demands, that I pay The Plaintiff alimony, and I quote, “So that Ms. Stretcher Ape can complete her Bachelor Degree in Nursing, so she can support her children better.”
I looked at my attorney, and he shrugged. With that signal, I dove in.
“Uh, Ma’am? why does your client require alimony in order to complete her BSN?”
“Mr. Stretcher Ape, it seems only fair. After all, she worked to put you through PA school, didn’t she?”
I contemplated this gambit. “You know, you have a point. I think we all agree that we all want fairness. You *do* realize that, while she was earning her associate nursing degree, I paid all of the household expenses for her, the children, and myself, right?”
Everyone at the table nodded, some more warily than others.
“So, since I contributed $1000 every month from my student loans to the family budget, while I was in graduate school, full time, isn’t it reasonable to expect your client to make a similar contribution toward her own education?”
Again nods, some wary.
“And, since I worked night shifts, 12 hours each, every night that I could, during our month long semester breaks, and every holiday shift that I could sneak in, as well isn’t it fair to expect Ms. Stretcher Ape to do likewise?”
The attorney nodded. I continued. “So, if we review my W2 forms, which I am sure our friends at the Friend of the Court have supplied you with, you can see that I contributed around $30,000 every year from my night shift earnings, as well as another $12,000 from my student loans. Isn’t it fair to expect a similar contribution from your client?”
The Plaintiff’s attorney started to bluster, but I held up a hand. “I’m not done yet. Now, you are suggesting all this effort should be directed toward earning her BSN, so that, as you term it, she could provide better for our children, right? This will add up to thousands of hours when your client could be mothering our children, and thousands of dollars in tuition, books, fees, and associated expenses, money that could be spent to the benefit of our children, right? All so that your client can earn a BSN, and earn more money, correct?”
The opposing attorney nodded. “Well, I, myself have a BSN. I am presently employed as an RN, and I can tell you, for a fact, that your client will earn twenty five cents an hour premium, as the holder of a degree in Nursing at the 4 year level! That means that, conservatively, her education investment will have paid for itself in (mumble, mumble, scribble, scribble) somewhere between ten to forty years, depending upon where she takes her classes.”
Opposing counsel leapt to her feet. “I do not believe that the earnings increase that comes with a BSN is so paltry!”
I leaned back, and smiled. “Madam, you have my pay stubs. They reflect that my employer, the largest hospital system in this part of the state, pays twenty five cents an hour. Most hospitals do not pay any sort of premium for that degree.”
Across the table, they leaned into each other, and held a hurried, whispered, conference.
I interjected. “May I make a counter offer? One that you likely will see again, like in court?”
Warily, I received nods of assent.
“Well, since I am a MAN, and a MAN wants what is best for his children I propose that, rather than spend thousands of hours in academics, hours when she could be mothering our children, and rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars, money that could be spent to the advantage of our children, that your client instead spend that time, spend that money, for the betterment of our children. And, since I am a MAN, and, being a MAN, I want to do what is best for our children, for my part, I will offer to pay her, annually, in one lump sum, in addition to whatever other money I am directed to pay, the five hundred dollars annually that she will forgo should she defer her education.”
I sat back.
THAT was the last I heard of alimony!