This article was published in the Chicago Now section of the Chicago Tribune (circa 2011) as part of the Kulerski & Cornelison “The Way We War” series of articles.

This is an interesting question that has two answers, depending on who you ask. Many of us have heard the expression, “she took me to the cleaners.” This is certainly a popular belief among males, but is it really the norm? Probably not. While there certainly are occasions where this is true, it may not be nearly as accurate as the anecdotal stories indicate.

We invite you to ask any male friend or family member if they believe women get a raw deal in divorce. Or, switch it around, and ask any female if she thinks men get a raw deal in divorce? The people we have asked not only answer no; they also get a look on their faces suggesting it would be moronic for anyone to answer otherwise. Their automatic no is the result of their perspective.

By definition, perspective is how we see or understand something. It’s our point of view. We do not see thinks as they are; we see things as we are.

Perspectives are involuntary, subjective, and extremely personal. They are formed over the years by our life experiences and are almost impossible to change.

Once we have a perspective, everything we observe is seen with this perspective in mind. When we notice things that confirm the righteousness of our view, we accept them as evidence that our perspective is correct. When something does not confirm our view, we minimize, ignore it, or deny its validity.

What is it that causes both men and women to form an initial belief that their gender gets a raw deal in divorce? There are no clear winners in divorce, when there are no clear winners, both sexes walk away seeing themselves as losers.

There can be no winners because both parties leave the divorce legal system with less than they had when they entered it (and this is true even before the attorneys get paid). The system cannot give anyone more than they had when the divorce started. Thus, everyone leaves thinking they got the short end of the stick.

With neither sex believing they received a positive result, the only message that can get circulated throughout society is that the gender in question has lost again. This is why the answer is dependent upon whom you ask.

Incidentally, if you do a Google search for “Do men get screwed in divorce”, you will find a staggering 3.5 million hits. What may surprise you is that a search for “Do women get screwed in divorce” shows 3.4 million hits. [Google 2018]

One might conclude from these numbers that getting screwed in the divorce process is not as gender specific as legend would have us believe.


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Kari and Richard are staunch advocates of the non-court approach to divorce, and are also active and seasoned litigators with over 80 years of combined trial experience in the Illinois divorce courts of Cook and DuPage counties.