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The changing face of alimony

Alimony emerged in a time where men and women had "separate spheres" in a marriage. The husband traditionally earned money by working outside the home, and the wife stayed at home to raise the children and take care of the household. In the event of a divorce, the woman who had stayed home all of those years did not have the experience and skills to start earning a living outside the home, and so the partner who had been building a career for so many years would make a monthly payment to help the wife survive. The husband had benefited from the woman staying home and working, and this helped recognize the sacrifice that she made to her own earning potential by doing so.

However, times are changing and the separate spheres in marriage are being replaced by two-income households. It is estimated that nearly 40 percent of married women earn more than their husbands. In the event of a divorce, a woman who earns more than her partner could have to pay spousal support to the ex-husband. This is a reflection of changing times as the courts strive to do what is right for both parties without letting gender impact their decisions.


When you are going through a divorce, there are many factors that will be taken into account when determining whether alimony is paid. The growing number of women paying spousal support show it has little to do with gender. The courts consider other factors, such as the length of the marriage, and financial resources of both parties, what each person contributed to the marriage and what the standard of living was throughout the marriage. The age, health, education, work experience and earning capabilities of both parties are also taken into account.

While alimony arrangements can be revisited and adjusted, it's wise to work with an attorney who can help you reach results that are acceptable. They will make sure the courts understand any extenuating circumstances and what your living expenses are. Both men and women can be entitled to alimony if they sacrificed their career to help their spouse's career flourish.

Source: TIME.com, "The De-Gendering of Divorce: Wives Pay Ex-Husbands Alimony Too", Liza Mundy, May 16, 2013

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