A Semi-Serious Proposal: Dough for Divorces


Times are tough all over - for most of us. So, I got to thinking about what our government could do for the little man or woman, someone like me, because it seems in vogue to think that this is why government exists ... to benefit me. Recently, the government scored big with the Cash for Clunkers program that revitalized sales in the auto industry. It seems to have worked wonders, at least in the short run, for many of the car companies. So, it dawned on me that the same kind of approach might be appropriate for the rest of us, me in particular.

About me: I’m a lawyer in private practice with more than 30 years experience. My areas of specialty are representing employees in employment cases and family law. Both practice areas are relatively busy, except that people have trouble retaining me due to the economy.

Recently I talked to some people who would like to divorce their spouse but because of the recession, really can’t afford it. So they have to stay together even though it is, to say the least, “uncomfortable.”

This is where I think the government can help.

How different is the auto industry from the divorce industry? Both sectors are predicated on people exchanging old for new.

With a car, a person may decide that the useful life of the vehicle is over; or it’s just too expensive to keep it running.  Sometimes, it’s just that someone just wants to trade it in for a newer or fancier model.

None of this is very different from the divorce industry.

With a marriage, many people just get to the end of the useful life of their relationship. It isn’t running so well, it’s too expensive to keep the old marriage going, or they are just tired of their spouse and want a newer, younger or different model. Maybe they don’t want to commit to “buying” a new model, instead they just want to test drive one for a while. That’s when they come to people like me.

[I should note that people get into trouble when they take the newer model out for a spin while still legally attached to their “clunker.” This move can be very dangerous and expensive, assuming they still have some serious assets left. But I digress.]

So, in order to boost my practice, since this is about me, I propose that the government have a stimulus package for divorce lawyers and divorcees - maybe call it “dough for divorces.”

If your marriage (your old model) isn’t getting the mileage that it should, you can get government assistance to trade in your marital "clunker." The government will give you an incentive to go out and trade up - get a newer, more efficient, more environmentally friendly spouse: $4,500 per split-up will go a long way to help the average American obtain their Declaration of Independence-guaranteed right to happiness, via divorce. 

Everyone wins. People will be happier with their new spouses, so they will probably want to spend some cash on their new better halves. There will be purchases of jewelry, furniture, expensive meals, travel and other stuff which is an extra trickle down bonus to the economy. Lawyers will obviously also benefit financially and will spend more money on things that they find important - better three-piece suits, Gucci loafers, laptop computers, leather briefcases, iPods, Blackberries, three-hour lunches, and expensive season tickets to the Washington Redskins.

It’s not a bad alternative; if the Congress can’t pass health care reform, at least some people’s mental health will be improved. Who's with me?

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