Spousal maintenance: more women paying, more men collecting

More and more women in Arizona and across the country are discovering that when the bloom is off the rose in their marriage, the result might be that they, as opposed to their husband, may end up obligated to pay child support and even alimony. Such is the nature of progress and changing times.

It’s not that the laws are being applied differently but rather that women have climbed up the ladder to the point where many out-earn their husbands. And that simple fact could translate into a court order to pay spousal maintenance if the parties choose to divorce.

The principle behind spousal support is said to level the playing field for a couple in the years after a divorce where one party has substantially out-earned the other. A majority of divorce lawyers responding to an Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey noted that an increased number of women were paying child support, and almost half of them acknowledged that an increased number of women were paying alimony as well. The reason, it appears, is that gender equality in the work place is more of a reality than in times past.

It is generally conceded that, over the past years, the number of women attending law school has doubled, while the number of them attending medical school is approximately equal to the number of men. And that translates into more families where the woman makes more than the husband. What was once the traditional bastion of women, spousal maintenance can now just as easily be awarded to a man where circumstances document a financial disparity.

Spousal maintenance in Arizona is often complicated and is one of a number of issues typically negotiated in divorce proceedings. When minor children are involved, there may also be discussions over which parent is more suitable to enjoy primary physical custody, and those women in demanding, high-income positions may see that their soon-to-be ex-husband may make a better fit. And while not every woman who has achieved financial success is happy with the notion of paying alimony to a male, it is really not much more than an equal application of long-standing legal principles.

Source: Reuters, “Alimony: Women Increasingly Paying Alimony To Their Ex Husbands,” Patricia Reaney, May 10, 2012

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