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Gender’s modern-day role in determining alimony

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2021 | Divorce

In a time not long ago, the traditional divorce dynamic saw husbands paying their ex-wives child support and alimony following a marriage ending. Today, that type of marital dissolution transaction is becoming an outdated concept. Women in the workforce occupy more positions of significant, if not executive-level power, while their husbands give up careers to take care of the household.

Looking at the overall history of financial support for a spouse, women had the right to money from their spouses due to not having any property rights and the ability to earn an income. Fast forward to 1979 when the Supreme Court ruled that gender should not play a role in who should be the payor and who should be the recipient.

Changing dynamics

Regardless of gender roles, no one truly wants to pay alimony. Yet, the concept of female ex-spouses financially supporting their former male partners is becoming more and more common. Many of the payors, regardless of gender, are usually not happy about it due to perceived inequities of the “partnership” and what both spouses should have brought to the marriage.

In fairness, many spouses start their marriages with “eyes wide open” as far as who provides an income and who takes care of children. Besides, no job is guaranteed. The male spouse could find himself laid off and limited in job options. A form of role-reversal occurs, and the husband is now taking on domestic duties.

Alimony is a term that is rarely used due to its negative perception. Most in the legal industry use the more modern terminology of spousal support. Unlike child support that designates money for specific expenses for sons and daughters of divorce, money for a spouse is not under such limitations.

In Maryland, support often takes the form of “rehabilitative alimony.” Money is provided for a certain amount of time to allow the dependent spouse to become self-supportive. Because of the state’s equal rights amendment, either ex-spouse can be required to pay alimony.

While many question the need for “outdated” spousal support, that part of the divorce process doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Whether opposite-sex or same-sex marriage, one ex financially supporting another for a certain period of time or in perpetuity is here to stay.