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Alimony - it's not just for women anymore

Not so many years ago, the wife was the one who customarily sought support from her ex-husband during divorce proceedings. But a new trend on the divorce scene is the husband seeking, and receiving, alimony, something that would have been almost unheard of a generation ago.

The trend developed as more women were leaving the home and entering the work force. Some women began bringing home larger paychecks than their husbands. In a minority of cases, the husband became a stay-at-home Dad, dedicated to child-rearing and housekeeping duties that in the past had been considered the domain of the wife.

Even when the men were comfortable in their roles as caregivers or bringing in a smaller paycheck, asking for spousal support from their wives still carried a bit of a social stigma. Those days are fading however. Statistics from the 2010 Census indicate that out of 400,000 Americans receiving spousal support, only three percent were males. But a 2012 survey done by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers of its 1,600 members revealed a surprising 47 percent noted an uptick in the number of women who are paying spousal support to their exes.

Some judges still show a gender bias in these cases, and men remain more likely to drop alimony demands during the pre-divorce negotiation process. But in the end, it's still a numbers game: The spouse with the larger annual income can still be mandated by the court to pay spousal support to the other.

When children are involved, it is easier for a man to request alimony so that his standard of living doesn't dip dramatically in shared custody arrangements and cause the children even more distress. But even in childless marriages, where the man put his career on hold to be a supportive spouse to his larger wage-earning spouse, he can seek either a large lump sum payment or monthly installments of alimony in order to get his career kick-started back on the fast track.

Men facing divorce from wives with greater earning power should discuss with their attorney the possibility of receiving spousal support to even the playing field during negotiations. An experienced attorney will be able to advise you of the options available in your case.

Source: reuters.com, "More men get alimony from their ex-wives" Geoff Williams, Dec. 24, 2013

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