Friday 17 September 2010

Spousal Support: Where are the men?

Statistics Canada (StatsCan) released its latest report on spousal support on September 17, 2010. This report provides statistics on the current state of support programs across the country. Highlights of the report are:

  • On March 31, 2010, nearly 408,000 cases, most involving children, were registered in Maintenance Enforcement Programs (MEPs) in the nine provinces and two territories reporting data (Table 2) (excludes Manitoba and Nunavut). In most jurisdictions, the number of cases enrolled with a MEP has been gradually declining over the last several years.
  • In March 2010, for those cases with a regular support payment due, the majority of cases (61%) had an amount due of between $1 and $400. Just over 5% of cases had regular payments owing of more than $1,000 (Table 9).
  • In any given month in 2009/2010, just over two-thirds of cases were in full compliance with their regular child or spousal support payments due for the month (Table 15).
  • On March 31, 2010, 64% of cases had arrears (money owing from earlier missed payments). Total arrears owing was $2.7 billion for the 11 reporting jurisdictions (Table 18).
$2.7 billion? Billion? That's a lot of money. Just where are the men? You married the woman. You fathered the child. Time to pay the piper; no freebies allowed.

The woman as the wife or partner in a traditional role will take care of the home while the man works. She cooks, cleans, maintains the roost, provides all the support that is necessary for the modern man to carry out the duties of his working life, to in fact live his life. Such a contribution to the couple is not without merit; such a contribution is not without worth. After all, it is a partnership.

The woman as the mother, the one who gets pregnant and carries the child to term, as the principal care giver to the child is the adult in this equation who must bear most if not all of the responsibility of raising a child. Such a contribution to the couple is of a major importance.

We men do have a bit of a reputation for flitting from flower to flower spreading our pollen around in a care free fashion moving on as the fancy takes hold of us. How Alfred E. Neuman of us: What, me worry?

Divorce Magazine summarized some other numbers of the StatsCan report by mentioning that the total of $2.7 billion has risen about $50 million since 2004 with an increase in missed support payments of 2-3% each year since 2005.
  • Quebec is the province/territory with the highest percentage of support cases in which parents comply, at 72%. Northwest Territories has the lowest, at 54%. British Columbia and Alberta have the second-highest rate, at 65%, while Ontario has a percentage of 63%.
  • Ontario now has about 186,000 support cases, according to the Family Responsibility Office of the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services. Of these cases, 35% are non-compliant and owing money, and 42% of the cases in arrears are more than a decade old.
  • The Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services collected $652 million in support payments in 2008, an increase of $20 million from 2007.

Divorce Magazine provides stats on divorce in Canada and it seems appropriate to include them here:
  • There were 71,269 divorces in Canada in 2005, or a rate of 220.7 per 100,000 population.
  • About 38% of marriages end in divorce before the 30th anniversary. This figure differs across the country, ranging from 48% in Quebec to 22% in Newfoundland.
  • The risk of divorce is much higher for a first marriage than for a remarriage; 16% of divorces involve men who have been divorced previously, and 15% involve previously divorced women. 20% of Canadian divorces are repeat divorces for at least one spouse. Excluding Quebec, where cohabitation has become the preference, about 70% of divorced men and 58% of divorced women remarry.
  • The average length of marriages that end in divorce is 14.5 years, an increase of 1.7 from ten years ago.
  • The average age at which men divorce is 44 years old, and the average age for women is 41.4. The average age at which men marry is 29.5, and that for women is 26.9.
  • Almost 30% of children born in 1984 experienced their parents' divorce (or ended cohabitation) by the age of 15, according to the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth.
  • About 10% of child-custody orders are joint physical custody, in which the child spends at least 40% of his or her time with each parent. Joint legal custody comprises about 46.5% of all child-custody orders, while only 10% of children live with their fathers.
  • Around 43% of women have a decrease in household income within two years of a separation or divorce; the figure is only 15% for men. The same study finds that 29% of men have an increase in income, as compared to nine percent of women.
  • In a recent survey, 90% of teenagers said they expected not only to get married but to stay with their spouses permanently.

I guess this is more of an observation as a man directed to other men.

Getting married is a big deal. This isn't something to be taken lightly. If you've got the slightest doubt, talk it over with somebody and here a professional would be a good idea. Figure out whether you're ready to take the plunge because believe me, men and women think about romance, relationships and marriage very, very differently. You need to make sure you are on the same wavelength as your partner and that you fully understand the commitment you're making.

Having kids is no laughing matter. I'll tell you right now that we men have absolutely no understanding or appreciation for the maternal instinct. It is just about the most powerful force on earth and you better get tuned into just what kind of a sacrifice you are making when you decide to have children. You ain't walking out on that; kids are forever. Well, at least 20 or so years until they leave home.

Finally, if you are walking out, remember that you may walk away from your partner but you should think again if you consider that you can or should be allowed to walk away from your responsibilities. I have looked at a number of web sites dedicated to men's rights activists (MRA) who very much take the slant that men are hard done by in this world and that this world favours women over men. Nothing could be further from the truth. The world is patriarchal; it favours men and it's been that way since the beginning of time.

Don't believe me? Look at the above stats on divorce which show:

Around 43% of women have a decrease in household income within two years of a separation or divorce; the figure is only 15% for men. The same study finds that 29% of men have an increase in income, as compared to nine percent of women.

If you break up, everybody loses: the man, the woman and the children. Seek help; see a professional; try to save the marriage as you will all lose. But statistically, overall the man still comes out ahead because statistically, it's the man who works. Gee, maybe you should marry a woman with her own career? Of course, maybe she'll be the one kicking your butt to the curb.

[smiles] Oddly enough, I'm not sure I have one. The numbers speak for themselves and I guess it's up to all of us to consider our own situation and weigh the pros and cons. If you don't want to plunge to your death; don't jump out of the airplane. But if you do decide to jump: be prepared, be responsible and... hmmm, be a man.


StatsCan: Child and Spousal Support: Maintenance Enforcement Survey Statistics

StatsCan report in HTML

StatsCan report in PDF

Wikipedia: Alfred E. Neuman

Divorce Magazine: Sample Canadian Stats on Spousal Support

Divorce Magazine: Sample Canadian Stats on Divorce


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