The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on February 3, 1986 · Page 6
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 6

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Monday, February 3, 1986
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Living Today The Salina Journal Monday, February 3,1986 Page 6 t New divorce laws hurt women By The New York Times NEW YORK — In the world of divorce research, Lenore J. Weitzman is a name to be reckoned with. Judges cite her law journal articles in their divorce decrees. Lawmakers drew on her sociological studies in drafting the federal child-support enforcement law, which took effect Oct. 1. When she is a guest on radio talk shows, men call in to spar with her and women call in to spur her on. Weitzman, a Stanford University sociology professor, is the author of a 10-year study on the effects of no-fault divorce on women and children. Her research is based largely on an analysis of 2,500 California court cases, before and after 1970, when that state instituted the country's first no-fault divorce law. She also interviewed hundreds of judges, lawyers and divorced men and women in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Her major finding is that, under the new law, a woman's standard of living decreases by an average of 73 percent one year after the divorce while that of her former husband increases by 42 percent. In a new book based on the study, "The Divorce Revolution: The Unexpected Social and Economic Consequences for Women and Children in America" (The Free Press, $19.95), Weitzman concludes that the revolutionary no- fault divorce laws, now in effect in some form in every state except South Dakota, have been a bad economic bargain for women. On the one hand, the sociologist says, the new laws have reduced the acrimony of divorce by reducing the faultfinding. On the other hand, she says, no-fault took away a bargaining tool lawyers used to get women better financial settlements. Women are also disadvantaged by legal changes because courts, in dividing property, disregard economic inequities created during the marriage, she says. Critics of the Weitzman study, while agreeing that many women experience economic hardship after divorce, stressed in interviews this cannot necessarily be traced to recent legal reforms. They say that, in some states, these reforms may have helped rather than hurt some women. Herbert Jacob, a Northwestern University political science professor who is researching a related subject, put it this way: "Weitzman's study is unique and very valuable. Divorce harms women and children much more than it does men. But to lay that on the doorstep of no- fault and the other changes in the laws is probably incorrect. Her evidence comes from California, and California is simply not a typical state." California is one of 18 states with pure no-fault divorce laws. Many others are so-called fault option states, which permit no-fault divorce under certain conditions such as a period of legal separation. In New York, for example, the period is one year. Those wishing to end a marriage sooner must still use fault grounds. Thus, the kinds of economic bargaining Weitzman says have disappeared in California may still exist to some extent in other states. Another distinction is that Calif ornia is one of only eight community property states and one of three with a mandatory equal division of property. If the only major marital asset is a home, often the home is sold to permit a 50-50 split of the proceeds. If the couple have children, custody typically goes to the mother, who may be faced with providing another home for them. By contrast, most states have adopted some form of equitable distribution, requiring judges to distribute property on an equitable basis. Marriage rules change By The New York Times One broad implication of the findings of Lenore J. Weitzman, Stanford University sociology professor and author of a 10-year study on the effects of no-fault divorce on women and children, is that changes in divorce laws have changed the marriage rules. "In the past," she said, "the economic contract was she'd be the homemaker and he'd be the breadwinner. Now we've redefined the terms so that a homemaker and mother is up a creek at divorce because no court is going to tell him to keep supporting her." Moreover, the laws reward individual achievement rather than commitment to the family. "What we've really said," Weitzman said,. "is you're going to be independent after divorce. If you invest in. your husband, if you invest in your children, it doesn't pay under the new rules." Laws in New York and some other states direct courts to consider factors such as the needs and contributions of husbands and wives in distributing property. Traditionally, these states were so-called title states, which meant that marital property, for example a house, was awarded on divorce to the titleholder. Since title was more likely to be in a husband's name than a wife's, there was some early speculation that women in marriages where there was some property to be divided might fare better under equitable distribution. Yet, as Mary Ann Glendon, a Boston College law professor and family law expert, said: "Under the old title system, judges in most states could transfer property from husband to wife by calling it alimony." She and other legal authorities believe women do worse under New York's equitable distribution law than under California's equal division. "New York is the best laboratory we've got for what's really going on," Glendon said, "and the evidence there shows women and children getting 25 to 30 percent of marital property rather than 50 percent as in California. The problem is the education of judges, who are still overwhelmingly male and who tend consciously or unconsciously to take as a starting point what they think a man needs to get along. That's not a function of fault or no-fault and that's happening in every state." Aside from the caveat that the plight of divorced women and children may not be the result of no-fault laws, researchers tend to concur with the negative findings of the Weitzman study, which was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the National Institute for Mental Health. In addition to the California research, the study drew on data from the United States Census Bureau and on studies done in other states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. One reason women are worse off economically after divorce, Weitzman says, is that courts tend to overlook a newly defined kind of marital property known as "career assets" — a breadwinner's educational degree, professional license, pension, health insurance and potential earning power — and to ignore the diminished job prospects of a homemaker and mother. Particularly disadvantaged, in her view, are older homemakers who have never worked outside the home and mothers of young children. Although the law assumes women in both situations will be capable of self-support soon after divorce, the case histories threaded through her book give a different picture. Edith Curtis, for example, the 53-year-old wife of a college professor: after 30 years and four children, she said, "I was replaced by a 25-year- younger model." As a faculty wife, she had baked cookies and poured tea at graduations. As a middle-aged job seeker with no marketable skills, she had to settle for part-time work in a fast-food restaurant. The book uses such personal stories to dramatize what Weitzman terms the "myths" of divorce: Despite large alimony awards in celebrity divorces, she says, census figures show that 85 percent of divorced women receive no alimony today and those who do typically receive short-term awards. Despite instances of divorced fathers rearing children alone, 90 percent of all custodial parents are women, who complain child support awards are inadequate and often not paid. The average award for two children is $200 a month, a figure that would not cover the cost of day care. Estimates of noncompliance with child-support orders range from 60 to 80 percent. "This has profound implications for the future of a society which expects more than half of its children to experience the dissolution of their parents' marital relationship before they reach age 18," Weitzman said. Older children suffer, too, since child support ends at age 18 in many states. "One reason older women are hurting so much is that more than 3 million single-parent families are headed by mothers of children over 18," she said, "and less than 10 percent of divorce settlements have any provision for college education." While not advocating a return to faultfinding, Weitzman proposes far-reaching remedies to make divorce more equitable. Some of them, such as viewing pensions and retirement benefits as marital property, have been recognized by courts in some states. But few states permit older homemakers once covered by group or family health and hospital insurance policies to convert to individual policies without new proof of eligibility, as she advocates. Nor do they do guarantee such women an interest in a former husband's income for the rest of their lives, a provision of the "grandmother clauses" Weitzman would create. Another provision is that older homemakers be allowed to continue living in the family home, if it is the only major asset, rather than having to sell and share the proceeds with the former spouse. The parent with the major responsibility for minor children should also be allowed continued use of the home, she says, adding that the use should be seen as part of the child-support award rather than an unequal division of property. In general, Weitzman recommends that child- support awards be based on an income-sharing approach because this formula is most likely to equalize standards of living in both households after divorce. To enforce these awards, she favors such techniques as wage assignments, national location services, property liens and bonds, and, where necessary, jail. Self-diagnosis points to low blood sugar Dear Dr. Donohue: After reading up on hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) I feel it is what I have. My doctor dismisses the evidence and pooh-poohs the idea out of hand. He feels hypoglycemia is a hoax. Should I have the test for it? — A.A. Your doctor will order the tests if you insist. His reaction is not unusual, for hypoglycemia has been greatly overworked and, I'm frank to say, the subject of far too much self- diagnosis. Normally, when we eat the sugar in the food gets converted to blood sugar (glucose). At that point the body releases insulin, and a couple of hours later blood sugar returns to normal. In a few people, the level continues to drop until there is a deficiency of blood sugar. The pancreas, the source of insulin production, has failed to fine-tune its insulin production. Symptoms arise — nervousness, headache, etc. The low blood sugar level has triggered release of adrenalin, causing those symptoms. Now this is "reactive" hypoglycemia. The same problem can occur if a tumor of the pancreas, for example, is the cause of the insulin overproduction. But actually, neither situation is all that common. Proof of the low sugar problem requires three pieces of solid evidence. Tests must show a drop of blood sugar to a certain indicator level. The symptoms must occur with that reading and, finally, they must subside when the blood level returns to normal (with food ingestion). The answer for people with hypoglycemia is diet manipulation. If they can decrease consumption of these sugars they have fewer episodes of blood sugar drops. And if they emphasize smaller, more frequent meals stressing protein foods, Doctor Donohue NEWS AMERICA there will be less of the rambunctious insulin production and fewer symptoms. If you are having the symptoms I described, especially chronic headache, you would do well to try to get at the basis of those problems. If they can't be explained otherwise, then the hypoglycemia idea can be entertained. In any event, there is nothing worse than going around with symptoms for which you have no explanation. Dear Dr. Donohue: Can you explain how menopause seems to get into the problem of osteoporosis? How does the estrogen we are urged to take help? — Mrs. L.E.S. Much of the relative calcium deficiency is part and parcel of added years. As we age, we absorb less calcium from food than we did when we were younger. We also tend to get less exercise, another important We're Moving To cause of bone weakening. And, as you indicate, a slackening of hormone production at menopause is another factor. I can't explain just how that enters the overall bone-thinning (osteoporosis) problem. We're not yet sure. We know it is a factor, because for women who can use them estrogen supplements at this tune can help avoid bone deficiency. Dear Donohue: I am to have stones removed from my bile duct. The process is to be endoscopy. Briefly describe this operation. — A.L.V. An endiscope is a tube with a viewing device on the end. For your stone problem, the tube will be introduced via the mouth and passed into the stomach, then out to the small intestine, to where the gall bladder duct enters it. Stones obstructing that duct can be removed. The endoscope opens the duct and Medical doctors protect each other Dear Ann Landers: Yet another letter in your column defending physicians. Will you please present, for once, the victim's side? Physicians should be held accountable under the law the same as other professionals who take responsibility for lives. Most malpractice suits are dragged out for years. Meanwhile, the doctor is still out there doing the same things to other patients. The medical profession wrongly places the blame on the victim for the high cost of malpractice insurance. For years doctors have claimed the ability to police themselves, but in reality they are unwilling to do so. Their refusal to blow the whistle on one of their own has not protected the "brotherhood" but tarnished it. It is ludicrous to mention the devastating effects on the family when a physician is sued for malpractice. His pals in the profession and the insurance companies protect him from financial hardship. One of the major problems is finding a physician who is willing to testify against a colleague. Also, if the victim is dead, he cannot speak for himself. Added to these advantages, the jury often views the doctor as some sort of God. And even if the patient wins the case, all the money in the world cannot compensate him if he is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. It is about time some mention is made of what happens to victims and their families who are at the mercy of careless, inept and unpaired physicians. Of course, there are good doctors out there and they are appreciated. But it seems to me the competent, caring, conscientious ones should do everything possible to rid the profession of the ignoramuses and the drug and alcohol abusers who are maiming and killing patients everyday. I hope the medical profession hasn't got you so neatly in its back pocket you will toss this letter away. I'm betting 7 to 3 against seeing it in print. — Fed Up On Phony Croakers Dear Fed: You lose. Here's your letter—and it's a darned good one. I hope every physician who recognizes him or herself will remember the oath "to do no harm" and clean up his act. To protect a guilty colleague is to promote criminal behavior and that makes the colleague a criminal, too. I'm for throwing the book at 'em. Dear Ann Landers: Here is another crazy problem that has people at my place of employment arguing. Please settle it for all of us. It is running into overtime. Ann Landers NEWS AMERICA 216 W.Crawford February 15, 1986 DON UIOSIER Is it humanly possible for a woman to have 69 single births in her lifetime? Half the office says, "Yes" and an equal number says, "No way." We are all awaiting the final word from you, Annie. Don't let us down. — And Baby Makes 69 in Michigan Dear Mich: Methinks somebody cheated and looked in the Guinness Book of World Records (1986), but they didn't read the item carefully. The greatest officially recorded number of children produced by a mother is indeed 69. The woman who performed this remarkable feat was a Russian peasant who lived 150 miles east of Moscow. She, did not, however, have 69 single births. She produced 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets, and four sets of quadruplets. (Write to Ann Landers in care of News America Syndicate, 1703 Kaiser Avenue, Irvine, Calif. 92714.) Babies named A son, Jared Anthony, was born Jan. 17 to Robert and Sharon May of Tipton. Grandparents are John and Leora Heit of Dayton, Ohio, and Geraldine May of Marysville, Calif. Great-grandparents are Ron and Mary Dandurand of Salina and Jack and Evelyn Heit of Poway, Calif. * * * A daughter, Lauren Elizabeth, was born Jan. 21 to Rick and Margaret Shaver, Rt. 1, Salina. Grandparents are Mr. and Mrs. Francis Ryan of Solomon and Mr. and Mrs. Tom George of Salina. Great- grandparents are Mr. and Mrs. Robert Armstrong of Salina and Mrs. George Shaver of Minneapolis. Phillips' mother ran school The first school in Salina was held in the home of Mrs. Christina Phillips in 1861. Mrs. Phillips was the mother of Col. William Phillips, the founder of Salina. Mrs. Phillips' home was a two- story structure. She lived in the north part of the house downstairs, and school was held in the south room downstairs. It was a subscription school, and its first teacher was Etta Thacher. nutri/system permits the stones to pass out into the intestinal tract for evacuation from the body. If necessary, a tiny basket can be attached to the endoscope to retrieve a stone and deposit it into the intestinal tract. This non-surgical procedure is often favored in those who, for reasons of age or poor physical health, cannot withstand the rigors of conventional surgical stone removal. For Mrs. G.G.: Grafts for the aorta are made of inert materials. These do not cause rejection by the body. You are thinking of reactions that develop when organs from another human are implanted. The body senses them as foreign, living substance, and that evokes rejection. (Write to Dr. Paul Donohue in care of News America Syndicate, 1703 Kaiser Avenue, Irvine, Calif. 92714.) RENEE WELLS Renee before Nutri/ System ...when she found the solution to her problem. She found it at Nutri/System and so can YOU! THIS IS IT! All Ladies' Winter Shoes NOW (Values to $60.00) *° All Winter Boots NOW ONLY (Values to $250.00) "Mid State Mall's Only Ladies'®w Specialty Shop" All New 1986 Spring Shoes — 10% Off CALL NOW and take advantage of our special offer. Let Nutri/System help you find your solution! Renee Wells tost 124 Ibs. and 43 inches without counting calories or measuring food. WHAT A SOLUTION! P'bsent Ihis coupon ai any paricipaimg Nulr^System We-ghl Loss Medical Garnet and you'll receive 33% on ma cost ot your program 'Otlet valtd tot new clients only One discount per parson 1913 South Ohio Oak Park Village Salina, Ks. 823-9223 Mon.-Thurs. 9-7, Fri. 9-1 Orftf ••pirti 2-7-86 Bia nutri/system weight lots medical ccnttrs "Special does nol include Ihe cost ol eiclusive Nu(ncSys(em foods or cost of physical eiam.nation As people vary so does an individual's wetghi loss Over 075 Cent en In North America.

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