A growing number of men are requesting and receiving alimony

As it becomes more common for women to earn more than men or achieve higher levels of education, a growing number of men may be entitled to alimony.

When spouses divorce in Atlanta, it's not uncommon for one spouse to be left financially disadvantaged. Alimony is designed to address this issue by providing temporary or indefinite support to the spouse who needs it. In the past, alimony was typically awarded to wives, but as gender roles have evolved, limited evidence indicates that it is becoming more common for men to seek and receive alimony.

New gender norms

Recent data on the number of men collecting alimony is limited. According to Reuters, the 2010 U.S. Census found that about 12,000 men were receiving alimony. These men represented just 3 percent of alimony recipients in the U.S. However, other evidence suggests that it's becoming more common for men to collect alimony. In a 2012 survey, 47 percent of the members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported seeing a greater number of ex-wives paying alimony.

Statistics on household income and education reveal that a growing number of men may be eligible for alimony. The New York Times reports the following findings:

  • An increasing number of women are acting as primary breadwinners. Women played this role in 24 percent of marriages in 2011, according to data from the 2011 American Community Survey. This represented a fourfold increase from 1960.
  • In marriages with uneven levels of spousal education, it's becoming more common for wives to be more educated. A Pew Research Center analysis of the 2011 ACS found that wives were more educated than their husbands in 23 percent of marriages, compared to 17 percent of marriages in which husbands had attained the highest levels of education.
  • Women with children are displaying different attitudes toward working. From 2007 to 2012, the number of these women who expressed interest in working full-time, rather than forgoing work or working part-time, rose significantly, from 20 percent to 32 percent.

Due to all of these factors, more men may find themselves in financially disadvantaged positions if their marriages end.

Alimony considerations

Georgia's laws do not presume that one particular spouse should receive or pay alimony. Instead, the earning power, education, financial standing and health of each spouse are weighed, as are factors such as the length of the marriage and the marital standard of living. A spouse may be entitled to temporary or permanent maintenance, which may be paid periodically or in a lump sum.

Although gender should not be considered when alimony is awarded, gender may have a few detrimental effects on the final outcome. Forbes explains that many men may be reluctant to ask for alimony or fight for their due support because of stereotypes about traditional gender roles. Unconscious biases may also make it harder for men to win their cases and an appropriate amount of support.

All of these factors provide good reason for men to understand their rights to alimony during a divorce. Meeting with a family law attorney may be a beneficial first step for men who are preparing for divorces and think they may be entitled to alimony.

Keywords: divorce, spousal support, maintenance, alimony

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