Bonus season is upon us once again. And while the toll of 2020 will most likely be visible in bonus checks this year, many companies will use this as an opportunity to reward their faithful and valiant employees. A reward for those who made hard decisions in the midst of a pandemic, who worked extra-long hours on lean budgets, figured out how to reduce overhead, and embraced the Zoom-fatigue life, while homeschooling their children between online meetings. For many it is a well-deserved reward as 2020 undoubtably left its mark on many in our workforce today.
A bonus, by definition, is a “financial compensation that is above-and-beyond the normal payment expectation.” An opportunity for their leaders to say, “job well-done this year, here is a monetary reward for your steadfastness, innovation, extra efforts, superior results, cool headedness, etc.” To many it is a tangible reflection of their personal value in the company.
There is, however, one recipient of the bonus this year that is entirely undeserving. It is the ex-spouse. Now, not every situation is the same, so before bucketing every ex-spouse in the “undeserving category” let me describe the ex-spouse I am referring to.
I am describing the one who shares 50/50 custody of our 3 children, is educated, carries a specialized certificate in their field, has the ability to work a full-time job but opts not to, remarried a medical doctor who makes a hefty salary (I should know, they use to work in my clinic), and receives just shy of 25% of my net salary each month, along with 20% of my yearly bonus.
Over the last 2 years, I have learned there are significant number of divorcees, such as myself, who are subjected to an unfair system of ex-spouse compensation deemed “child support.” While I truly had no issue paying monthly child support and a portion of my bonus to my ex during their single year, I struggle to grasp why they should receive any of my above-and-beyond compensation when they have remarried a highly compensated individual, only has our kiddos 50% of the time, and by personal choice refuses to join the workforce like the rest of us. This is the ex-spouse I am referring to.
Today’s divorce laws are not fair. Is that a shocking statement from a divorced high-income earner (who, by the way, is not always male), no. However, it is time to change our system. It is time that divorce laws take into consideration the financial impact of remarriage (especially when they file and claim children jointly), as well as ex-spouses’ refusal to work (especially when there is true equality in custody), and how to fairly deal with above-and-beyond bonus compensation (especially when it is a merit-based income). The current system is punitive and at times favors an ex-spouse who has little motivation to financially contribute.
Maybe I would feel otherwise if my ex-spouse showed some signs of gratitude for the endless hours I have worked, while homeschooling and quarantining our children, in order to receive my bonus. But then again, I think I would just rather keep my money than pay for her and her MD spouse’s new designer farmhouse.