For many years, alimony – also called spousal support or spousal maintenance -was thought to be only awarded to women. This is not surprising, given the gender roles of the time that allowed women to stay at home with their children, while their husbands went to work to provide for the family. In an event of a divorce, these women – who had been out of the job market for years – needed help getting back on their feet.
But economic realities of today have changed the way the courts decide who should receive spousal support. As households increasingly needed two incomes to stay afloat, more and more women entered the workforce. And as more women devoted time to their careers, many of them began earning more than their husbands. In fact, with the number of men who are unemployed, underemployed or on disability, almost one in three women earns more than her husband.
As a result, the alimony tides have turned, and women are paying spousal support to their exes – rather than the other way around.
Factors Involved in Being Awarded Alimony
Though the laws vary from state to state, alimony is awarded on a gender-neutral, case-by-case basis. In order to determine who receives the support, judges take into account how long a couple was married; the current income, age and education of both parties; the health status of both spouses; and which partner has a better earning potential.
This process can become extremely complicated. Parties will need to carefully examine the income and asset statements presented by their soon-to-be ex-spouse to ensure that nothing is being concealed. The courts will then examine the information presented by each couple to decide if spousal support is necessary.