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Women's success in the workplace affects spousal support norms

For decades, women have fought for equality in the workplace and beyond. The fight continues, though there has been significant progress for women to achieve the success that they want in their lives through education and employment.

With changes in the workforce and the status quo regarding women's salaries, what hasn't changed as drastically is how courts determine who owes what in a divorce. Women are more often earning higher incomes than their husbands these days, meaning that men are the recipients of spousal support and child support payments more frequently.

The stereotype of a divorce settlement in the past and as the public tends to see it in the media is that husbands were the breadwinners with wives who tend to stay at home and care for the children. When marriages like that end in divorce, the men generally would owe their wives and kids monthly support. The tables are turning in more and more real-life divorce settlements.

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reports that more than half of divorce lawyers throughout the country report that they have seen an increase in the number of women paying child support after divorce. Nearly half of the lawyers say they see more women paying alimony to their ex-husbands.

Decisions regarding spousal support and child support aren't, or shouldn't be, about gender. If a prenuptial agreement doesn't exist to guide the settlement in a divorce, then a court should make its decision based on what is fair. If one spouse was reliant on their spouse's income to get by during the marriage, then he or she could be a fair recipient of financial support. It ideally shouldn't matter whether the recipient is a man or a woman. It is called spousal support, not ex-wife support.

Source: Reuters, "Tables have turned in U.S. divorce courts with more women paying their former husbands alimony and child support than ever before, according to U.S. lawyers," Patricia Reaney, May 10, 2012

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