I was surprised to read that Melissa Etheridge is splitting up from her long time partner, Tammy Michaels. Etheridge and Michaels have been together for 9 years, and had an elaborate commitment ceremony in 2003. They considered themselves to be married. Now, according to Michaels' blog, not only are they splitting up, but Etheridge, while wanting joint-custody, is trying to deny Michaels any financial support.
Of course, it's a bit of a he said/she said situation when it comes to how much credibility we should give to Michaels' blog. That being said, since Michaels apparently gave up her career to be the stay-at-home Mom while Etheridge was the primary bread winner, it doesn't seem fair to leave her without any sort of settlement.
To me it seems to be a basic fairness issue. The two believed they would be together forever. Michaels acted on that assumption, supposedly giving up potential future earnings in order to care for the children. Something happened and the relationship didn't work out.
This happens to straight married couples all the time. One reason that judges divide assets equally when a married couple splits up is that it's hard to calculate the value of what each partner contributed. Perhaps one earned more, but perhaps the other took on 80% of the household chores? Or perhaps one partner really did give a lot more to the marriage. But how is a judge to tell? No one knows all the inner workings of a marriage except the two partners involved, and a divorce proceeding is not the type of environment to foster complete candor. So judges have to make assumptions and divide assets based on those assumptions.
In the case of Michaels and Etheridge - who knows if Michaels is being entirely truthful? It certainly seems a bit tacky for her to post the details of her relationship on a blog. But whether or not she is presenting the whole truth, whether or not she is tacky - there is still a fairness issue.
It will be interesting to see what happens in this case.