Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Alimony - Men Receiving - In the News

Until recently I rarely had a case where a man received alimony. In the past cases were not gender neutral. In case in which alimony would be appropriate, the Husband often took a larger property settlement instead of periodic alimony. The Husband’s felt embarrassed to receive alimony. They felt it was not appropriate. The new television program "The Lipstick Jungle," explores the issue of Wives who are more financially successful than their Husbands. It shows how much cultural values influence the results of divorce cases. I remember attending a Family Law Bar Association meeting during which the speaker gave the fact pattern of a case in which there was a high earning husband and a stay at home Wife and asked the audience their opinion of how the judge would rule on the case. After everyone gave his or her opinion, the speaker advised us that he had switched facts of the case and it was the Wife who was the high earner and the Husband who was a stay at home Husband. Everyone then changed their opinion about the case.

An April 1, 2008, story in the Wall Street Journal by Anita Raghavan entitled "Men Receiving Alimony Want a Little Respect" discussed this issue. See entire article at
The article reminded me that although it has been 30 years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against gender discrimination in alimony, it is only recently that I have seen more cases in which the Husband receives alimony. The article points out that "Divorce experts say that fewer and fewer men are rejecting outright any talk of seeking alimony. The percentage of alimony recipients who are male rose to 3.6% during the five years ending in 2006, up from 2.4%, in the previous five-year period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That percentage is likely to rise as more and more marriages feature a primary earner who is female. In 2005 (the latest year for which data are available), wives out earned their husbands in 33% of all families, up from 28.2% a decade earlier." The article goes on to say that "Today, men in growing numbers are receiving alimony for the classic reasons that women traditionally did. A common argument is that they sacrificed their careers for the sake of their wives'. The article confirms what I had found that Wife's feel that Husband’s who want alimony are "deadbeats." I remember a case where the Husband did not receive alimony but did receive a larger property settlement. I ran into the Wife a few later who informed me that she remarried and this time her Husband had a job! I was fascinated that Ms. Raghavan said that "Some feminists say cases (in which the Husband receives alimony) show progress of a sort. 'We can't assert rights for women and say that men aren't entitled to the same rights,' says the famous feminist lawyer, Gloria Allred... It did not surprise me that many women who paid alimony to their Husband said that they felt financially raped."
Wives paying alimony maybe on the unforseen consequences of greater equality in the workforce. As women are paid what they deserve and are not prevented from higher level jobs, they will earn more than their Husbands and there will be more claims for alimony by Husbands. It is yet to be seen if this trend is a good or bad thing. As always, you can post a comment about this blog, Divorce Mediation, or Tucson Arizona by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website or participate in our Presidential poll located below the directions. WM 4/9/08

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