Alimony, commonly known as spousal support, is a court ordered payment from one spouse to the other after divorce. Similar to child support, alimony is designed to bridge the income gap between spouses. Historically, alimony was paid by divorced men to their ex-wives. However, a Supreme Court ruling over 40 years ago brought equality to divorce and made both men and women eligible to be the recipients of spousal support. Despite the fact that alimony equality has been around for nearly half a century, only an estimated 3 percent of alimony recipients are men. With roughly 400,000 divorcees collecting alimony, it may not seem like times have changed after all.
It is no secret that more and more women are becoming the breadwinners of their families. Even though an income gap may still exist between sexes, it certainly isn’t what it used to be and may only improve with time. While this improvement in income equality serves as a testament to our nation’s progress, it also may leave many women on the hook for alimony. Regardless of if the recipient of alimony is a man or woman, it is important for the paying spouse to understand how important spousal support can actually be.
For many divorced spouses, the funds received through child support and alimony serve as a large portion of their income. Depending on the circumstances surrounding an individual’s marriage and divorce, these sources of support may be the only way to get back on one’s feet. Permanent alimony is essentially a thing of the past and has been replaced with rehabilitative spousal support.
Regardless of which spouse is the higher earning, alimony is designed to do the same thing for both men and women. It serves as a source of support and income during a time when one may need it most. Divorcing spouses concerned with how and if alimony will be awarded in their case may benefit by working with an experienced divorce attorney.