Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 23, 1972 · Page 87
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July 23, 1972

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 87

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 23, 1972
Page 87
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Page 87 article text (OCR)

IIP--July 23, 1972 Sunday Ga*«tt*.Mail 'He Wttl Vlrtlnli- By Penelope McMullan The phone call on Monday for a date on Saturday is going the same route as the party dress and the prom--out In fact, the whole practice of d a t i n g 'seems to be disappearing. That funny old way Mom and Dad did things--the nervous initial conversations on th« phone, the old anticipation of the "Big night," the worry over whether "he" would call again-"S^rt of quaint," says Gil Speilberg, an Adelphi College student. And his friends shake their heads. Such things are unheard of. The whole way of "dating" has changed. Instead of being on dates, teenagers and college students today place the emphasis on b e i n g together. * Instead of parties, or written invitations with RSVP, they tend to prefer spontaneous, informal get- t o g e t h e r s . I n s t e a d of emphasizing couples, they emphasize themselves, with Juea taking less and less of the In Divorce Everybody Loses Most of The Time By Marilyn Goldstein Divorce and separation s e t t l e m e n t s a r e l i k e agreements made after a prolonged strike. Either party can win at the expense of the o t h e r , b u t m o s t o f t e n everybody loses. The culprit is the same in both labor and marital battles--money. The financial devastation of split- up frequently surpasses even · the emotional impact. · The economic facts of life and ex-love--in a civilization where one party contributes most of the financial support while the other bears most of the domestic duties--preclude the probability of a mutually a c c e p t a b l e m o n e t a r y arrangement. "Anyone contemplating separation or divorce is in trouble unless (he or she) is rich--not just middle rich, but very rich," Nassau County, L.I. Family Court Judge Beatrice Burstein says. Two households cannot be maintained for the price of one. With low-and middle- income families, supplementing income often falls to the department of social services. "It is often a question after a breakup as to which one will go on welfare," Judge Burstein says. Almost a l w a y s , it is the w i f e . Spokesmen for the Social Services Departments of both Nassau and Suffolk Counties said they keep no statistics on the number of s p o u s e s s o f o r c e d o n welfare, but the number is not minimal. When there is little or no money, there are few alternatives. It is with families of means that the conflict rages over settlements. The men, by and large, maintain that they take the greater financial burden; the women complain that it is they who do. Change in the alimony laws k one of the main targets of reformers. The prevailing sentiment is that men pay · unnecessarily or through the nose. Some women's groups say this is a rnyth and contend that alimony payments are less than adequate. SIDNEY SILLER, a matrimonial lawyer and an executive with the Committee for Fair Divorce and Alimony Laws says t h a t w o m e n generally receive excessive awards. He cites the case of a Manhattan widower as an example. The widower married a divorced woman. They split up after just two and a half months. Yet the wife was a w a r d e d $35 weekly in alimony. Siller said he cannot back up his contention with statistics because, "there is no place in this country that has statistics." But he can reel off case studies. Siller and his group contend that alimony is awarded as a dole to a wife or a punishment to a man when a marriage breaks up. His committee backs a proposal to limit alimony to one year, unless the former wife is sick, aged or has preschool children. During that year, he says, the wife is to get job training and become self-supporting. A bill to this effect was filed in the New York state senate by Sen. Paul P. E. Bookson (D- Manhattan). Siller stresses that the one-year limit would not apply for child-care payments, for w h i c h he believes the father should be partly responsible. Women's rights advocates dispute the Siller group's beliefs, c o n t e n d i n g t h a t alimony is not a grant but a salary for keeping house, performing other domestic chores and for the custodial care of the children. They argue that men are compensated for their work outside the h o m e , but t h a t women cannot command payment for domestic work. Lawyer Karen Burstein, who handles a high proportion of domestic her work with the Nassau County law Services in Hempstead, says:" W h e n w o m e n e n t e r marriage they undertake to stay home and bear and care for children. Men undertake to p r o v i d e for t h e m . . .Women's service does not have the same merchandisable quality as a man's." Whether or not a woman also works outside the home, she says, she still performs all the household duties for the family that remains with her. One of the rare studies on marital settlements was published by the Citizen's Advisory Council on the Status of Women which was appointed by President Nixon in 1969. Citing research done in 1965, the council concludes that women are rarely overcompensated in alimony by any standards. "The data available, although scant, indicate that in practically all cases the wife's ability to support herself is a factor in determining the a m o u n t of alimony; that alimony is granted in only a very small percentage of cases, that fathers, by and large, are contributing less than half the support of the children in divided families; and that alimony and child support awards are very difficult to collect," the report says. Mrs. Una Rita. Quenstedt and Col. Carl E. Winkler, who did the research for the support committee of the family section of the American Bar Assn., quoted one California judge who said, "In this country permanent alimony is given in less than two percent of all divorces and then only where the marriage has been of long duration and the wife is too old to be employable (or) if the wife is ill." A Massachusetts judge told Mrs. Quenstedt and Winkler, "Alimony in and of itself is not too great a problem, as nearly 90 per cent of the petitioners waive it." Judith T. Younger, a Hofstra U n i v e r s i t y law professor, thinks the myth of enormous alimony payments has flourished because "men don't regard the work women do at home as worth anything. . They feel whatever they get is more than they're worth b e c a u s e t h e y ' r e w o r t h nothing." Siller takes this. tack. On housework and child . care, he says, "That is not · work. It is not employment. The idea of trying to place an. e c o n o m i c w o r t h ( o n h o m e m a k i n g ) is w h a t ' s causing the trouble. I say it's not work." AN. OMINOUS B I L L sponsored by Assemblyman Albert Blumenthal. (D- Manhattan) would stipulate explicit factors that must be considered in a w a r d i n g alimony. Included are the duration of the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage, the physical and emotional condition of the party seeking maintenance (alimony would be called maintenance), the ability to pay of the party giving maintenance, and the incomes of both parties. "A judge would have to consider these factors, whereast now. whether he considers them is up to his discretion," a spokesman for Blumenthal said. Maintenance could also be paid to a man by a woman if the situation warrants it, and marital misconduct would not be considered when making an award. Under current laws, alimony cannot be awarded to a woman if she has committed adultery. Another bill drafted by the National Organization for Women, and introduced by Assemblyman Richard Gott f r i e d ( D - M a n h a t t a n ) , stipulates similar standards, including placing a value of the wife's work in the home. It does not provide for the possibility of women paying alimony to men ("this point is negotiable," a supporter said) but provides for a state- funded job-training service for the ex-wife to replace the State Conciliation Bureau. Blumenthal and Gottfried also are asking for changes in division of assets. New York State is not a community property state. Therefore, if assets are not owned in both names, or in the wife's name, the woman cannot receive any in a divorce settlement unless the husband agrees. The court cannot order it. Both bills would allow all assets acquired after the marraige to be divided. Even with a community property statute, the National Organisation for Women--which found that many wives do not know exactly w h a t t h e f a m i l y o w n s -- i n c l u d e d in the Gottfried-NOW bill a provision for compulsory disclosure of assets by both parties. The Blomentiul bill provides for disclosure only at the request of one of the involved parties. Under present law, the judge may ask for disclosure but it is not complusory. The Citizens' Advisory Council determined that when children are involved, the burden of separation or divorce frequently falls on the woman, even if she has some income. The report states: "The data available indicate that payments (for child support) generally are less than enough to furnish h a l f t h e s u p p o r t o f children." Mrs. Quenstedt and Winkler found that weekly payment of child support for two children averaged $27 when a man's net income (after taxes, Social Security, hospital iza- tion, insurance, union dues a n d r e t i r e m e n t p l a n payments) was $80 dollars, $30 to a net of $100 and $36 to a net of $120. In the same study, of 575 domestic court judges, about a third of the judges allotted between 26 and 35 per cent of a man's net income for child support. Howard Hilton Spellman, chairman of the matrimontial law committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, said that in practice he found, "Child support allowances are quite realistic, quite realistic in terms of what the child needs." Adele Weaver, president of the N a t i o n a l A s s o c i a t i o n of Women Lawyers, said in testimony of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1971, "But the point is that in actual practice. . .Most judgements for child support allow such minimal sums of $15 a week, $25 a week, $30 a week, that we know that the mother is giving at least, half of or close to half of the support in addition to part of the childcare expenses, she points out. the woman performs nearly' all of the custodial care plus all of the domestic chores.- The President's Commission found that "with the earnings of women averaging 60 per cent of those of men, women who work to support their i children are contributing by and large more than their proportionate share, even when fathers comply f u l l y with awards. COMPLIANCE with awards is another major problem, one with which both the Gottfried and Bluementhal bills deal. Possibly the most shocking figures in the Citizen's Advisory Council report are in the area of compliance. In the study, one year after the judicial award only 38 per cent of the fathers were paying what they were supposed to pay and 42 per cent paid nothing. Ten years later, 13 per cent were paying for the full award and 79 per cent defaulted completely. responsibility for planning and paying. "It's just hanging around together," says blonde Kim Lovett, 15. "You don't need to make a deal of it." She and her high school Mends--boys and girls--often travel in groups, and often end up at her house on a Saturday night just talking, being together. "I don't call it a party," she says quickly, "I call it company." "I can't remember the last time I had a date," says 23- year-old Sharon Miller. "My feeling is that when I want to do something I do it. And if someone wants to do that something with me, that's fine." The pretty dark-haired graduate student says she would prefer to be with friends, men and women, "and if something grew out of that, fine." But Miss Miller would not accept a date. "I would find it insulting," she says. "If someone called me and said let's go out on a 'date,' that would say something to me. It would set a tone, that I'm not a person in my own right." * * * MANY YOUNG people are so casual about the new system that (hey don't even stop to* analyze it. "It , depends on what mood you're in --leave it at that," says 16- year-old Howard Brody. He says most of his friends do go- out on "dates," as well as groups that the main change is just that "you don't go through that formalized thing." The relationships are' more depressurized. "More a mutual thing," he adds. "You know, inside--there's more understanding." They just don't want to play a "game." · Parents, used to the old way, view the change with some surprise. Dr. Irwin Lesser of Levittown,' N. Y., For example, says: "I can remember when my daughters turned 16 my wife and I figured they'd be starting to go out on dates, you" know, and it just never happened. And we said to each other, 'Hey, what's wrong with our kids?' That was when I began to keep my eyes and ears open and noticed it was a general thing and not specific to my daughters." Lesser, a psychologist, says that he's noticed a "more natural flow," as a result of the nondating s y s t e m , between the sexes. "There are some prettty close and strong relationships with boys and girls. But there's no real pairing off-just loads of kids. They don't isolate each other, by seeing a girl at a particular time. They seem to be implying that we were formalizing back when we were dating." The reasons for the new way for attributed by some psychologists to coed dormitories, off-campus living and the growth of communes. Women's Lib, however, is not given any credit. "I don't think this became conceptualized until Women's Liberation came along, but it became a pattern way before that," says student Spielberg. Other psychologists feel that the pattern has been in existence for many years, that the coed dorms, for example, may be an offshoot of the nondating, emphasis-on- friendship system, not vice versa. "So many situations have become less formal in our society," says one. "The whole business of courtship has certainly become less formal in the l a s t two generations. The dating change is only a part of a simplification of the whole system." * » * "GOING STEADY," however, is still popular and some counselors, p s y - chologists and parents feel that young people either go in groups or go steady, with no in-between. "I think that the young people go steady more and are more likely to have one particular boy friend or girl friend. There's such a t r e m e n d o u s f e e l i n g of loneliness, such alienation," says Dr. George Goldman, a New York psychologist. "They get much more of a sense of fulfillment from one person they know they understand and who understands them." Donald's Specializes In Making Brides Lovelier. Let Donald show you Several styles of Wigs That will be most becoming to you on your honeymoon. / Also let Donald show you the new LAYERED HAIR CUT for long hair Wed. thru Sit. 8:30 'til 5:30 Closed Mon. Tues. (during summer months) DONALD'S Hair Stylist 108-AMeFarlandSt. Charleston, W. Va. PHONE 346-1234 Corning The Ail New Counterange Electric your Local Corning D«o7or l«SiltllOlKlttttB 'inCfcaliiHa fat! But the way to find that person is no longer by "dating." it is more likely to be in a casual group at someone's house, in a casual group that goes to the movies together, to get a pixza, or even to hang around a shopping center. "In school you don't get to know anybody," says Brody, a high school junior. "So you meet at someone's house or something and that's how a lot of relationships get started." Adelphi Junior Sam Greenberger agrees and prefers the casual grouping as a way of getting to know someone without going through the dating syndrome. "I don't know if I want to take a girl out when I have just met her. Just because she's pretty- looking, that doesn't mean I want to take her out," he says., "I am going steady, but I know a lot of people who aren't," he adds. The whole, aim is to be natural, he says, which he doesn't feel dating is. "It isn't being yourself.' You really don't get to know each other until all the formalities are stripped away and it's just the two of you." One mother, speaking of her 17-year-old daughter, who is constantly in large groups, said the daughter recently got a phone call, asking her, of all things, for a date for Saturday night. 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