Yes, Women Can Be Required To Pay Alimony
One of the most common, and most persistent, myths about alimony is that only men can be required to pay it. In fact, there has never actually been a law stipulating that women are immune from paying alimony. However, the cultural norm (until recently) of a man being the primary wage-earner in a marriage has left the issue of women paying alimony after divorce relatively unexamined.
Why Alimony Exists
The basic premise of alimony is that if one spouse earns significantly more than the other spouse, and the spouse earning less (or zero) income requires financial support after the divorce to ensure they can afford the cost of living, then alimony is required.
The length and amount of support will be determined by a judge based on a variety of factors. Nowhere in the law does it say that if the person earning significantly less income is the husband, then his wife will not have to pay alimony.
Why Is This An Issue?
The cultural myth that only men can be required to pay alimony is so ingrained, that many women who have become the primary wage-earners in their marriage are blindsided during the divorce process when their husbands demand spousal support.
Not only that, but the number of women being asked to pay child support has started to increase as well. These issues have begun bubbling up in courts across the country as women have seen a steady (albeit slow) increase in their earning power over the last decade or so.
What To Watch Out For
On the one hand, the fact that more and more women are earning enough to be the primary provider of their households is a wonderful sign of progress towards true gender (and wage) equality.
One of the drawbacks to that equality, however, is the reality that women may be forced to support their husbands after a divorce.
For women who do earn a significantly higher income than their partners, they should be aware of this possibility and take it into consideration before deciding whether or not to stay in their marriages.
Consulting With An Attorney
Being on the other side of the table, so to speak, when the issue of alimony and child support come up can be jarring. The best solution is to work with an experienced divorce and family law attorney who can walk you through the process step-by-step.
At Vonder Haar Law, we’ve helped many women successfully navigate through their divorce and the issues of alimony, child custody, and child support. To learn more about how we can help you, please contact us to schedule a free consultation.
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