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The Danger of Alimony

Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource.ca and The Famous Five Foundation

Matrimonial Property Law in Quebec

The Swedish Marriage Act

Reading: The Danger of Alimony

Reading: Role of the Church


Emily Murphy, "Article III: About Marriage Settlements," ms. Courtesy of City of Edmonton Archives.

"Realizing the inadequacy of our property laws in marriage, the Canadian National Council of Women has been passing of late resolutions anent the enactment of a fair and uniform basis for alimony. This is only to be expected from a council of women seeing that while the women get 65 per cent of the divorces, they get 100 per cent of the alimony. . . . It was a waggish and unregenerate male who drew attention to this. . . .

It is worth trying though if we must still be pestered with actions for alimony—actions which, for the most part, come to a sudden termination by the departure of the cash-keeper to other and more peaceful realms. There is doubt of it, our plan is weak and sags in the middle.

In the discussion of this matter with hundreds of ill-clad, hungry and disenchanted wives, it has become plainly palpable that their chief interest in alimony lies in the fact that it is an allowance.

In her own home, a wife who is ill-endowed with this world's plenishings can, if she have sufficient grounds, attain to comparative comfort and improve her condition financially by leaving home. Freed from the responsibility of the household, by means of alimony, she may actually rise to the position where she is no longer 'the poor relation'. . . . Yes, yes, it is thus our labors and well-meant laws have made a lemon out of a thoroughly good apple, and no wonder 'tis withering to our mouths.'

There is another angle to this grotesque perversion of alimony as by law established. Having secured the allowance, and having been freed from the duties of home, there is nothing to prevent the wife from earning something on the side. She can secure excellent remuneration as a cook, a stenographer or even professionally and, strange as it may seem, prefers this alternative to the labor of extracting a difficult dollar from a difficult husband.

Of course, it may be the husband feels that, in his spouse, he drew no angel down and is heartily glad to be rid of her. She was only a blot on his landscape. Nevertheless, this is a situation that does not make for the stability of marriage."

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