From Silicon Valley and Hollywood to Wall Street and Washington, D.C. (and points in between), women are increasingly in positions of power in the private and public sectors and far out-earning their husbands. That's led to more women paying spousal support when they divorce. This doesn't solely apply to famous actresses or female Fortune 500 executives. It's been estimated that women are the main breadwinners in 40 percent of households where there are children.
According to 2010 data, just 3 percent of American men were receiving spousal support. That number is likely to be considerably higher when the next U.S. Census rolls around in 2020.
Laws Regarding Alimony Have Changed, but Attitudes Remain Conflicted
The thought of seeking alimony (or "manimony," as it's been unfortunately nicknamed) from a wife can be uncomfortable for some men. After all, alimony, as it began centuries ago, was paid exclusively by men because women often weren't allowed to work outside the home or own property. A 1979 Supreme Court ruling said that alimony obligations couldn't be placed on someone solely because of gender. Even after that, divorced women continued to fare worse financially than men.
However, for many women, the thought of paying alimony to an ex-husband is infuriating. As one Los Angeles family law attorney notes, "Women having to pay spousal support are the most difficult clients to represent because they are so damn angry. They are offended by the notion that they would have to continue to pay for an able-bodied man."
Some of this anger may stem from the fact that many women, even if they have a stressful, demanding job, are still the primary caregivers for their children and the ones stuck with most of the household chores. A woman may wonder why she's required to compensate an ex-husband whom she feels didn't adequately share in these responsibilities during the marriage.
Determining Spousal Support
Whether a person is awarded spousal support -- and, if so, how much -- is based in large part on his or her ability to be self-supporting after divorce. A spouse may also argue, however, that he or she grew accustomed to a high standard of living during the marriage that can't even be approached without support from a spouse who has considerably more wealth.
If one spouse's career took a backseat to the other's, allowing the other spouse to build a highly successful career, it can be argued that spousal support is fair. Whichever side of the equation you're on, if you and your spouse can't reach an agreement on spousal support, your divorce attorney can help you present your case in court and work to achieve the best possible settlement.
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