Score another win for the women’s rights movement, but I’m guessing it’s not a win women will celebrate. In a surprise twist in the age of #equalpay, more women in divorce are having to pay alimony to their ex-husbands.

Hear Me Roar!

As MarketWatch reports, an increasing number of women are paying alimony and child support when their marriages break up, according to a recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Some 54% of the attorneys surveyed have seen an increase in women paying child support in the last three years, and 45% noticed an uptick in women paying alimony.

Despite complaints about the women’s pay gap, the trend of women paying alimony is being seen as a sign of women’s growing earning power. But experience is also showing that having to pay a man alimony is a bitter pill to swallow for women.

Florida Alimony

I’ve written about alimony, and alimony reform in Florida, many times. In every dissolution of marriage case, the court can grant alimony to either party – husband or wife.

Not many people realize there are several types of alimony in Florida: bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent alimony.

Florida courts can also award a combination of alimony types in a divorce. Alimony awards are normally paid in periodic payments, but sometimes the payments can be in a lump sum or both lump sum and periodic payments.

In determining whether to award alimony or not, the court has to first make a determination as to whether a wife or a husband, has an actual need for alimony, and whether the other party has the ability to pay alimony.

Once a court determines there is a need and ability to pay alimony, it has to decide the proper type and amount of alimony. In doing so, the court considers several factors, some of which can include:

  • The standard of living established during the marriage.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
  • The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
  • The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate.

But, the gender of the recipient is not a statutory basis for granting or denying alimony. Courts are supposed to be blind to gender in alimony awards.

The Future is Female!

Many women, no matter how educated, how professional, how modern they are, are surprised to learn that they might have to pay alimony. In the past, maybe mom was a kindergarten teacher and dad was working on Wall Street. For example:

  • In 1960, just 11% of households with children under 18 had mothers who were the breadwinner.
  • In 2013, moms were the primary provider in a record 40% of families, a 2013 Pew Research Center report found.
  • Some 31.4% of single dads who have custody of their kids received spousal support in 2016, and 52.3% of moms did.

The average amount of child support was $5,774 per year, or about $329 a month, but only 68.5% of that money was actually received, according to Census data.

Equality Includes Both Genders!

Paying alimony is something Sarah Gilbert never thought she would have to do, but the 44-year-old mom of three boys now sends $349 a month to her ex-husband. The Portland, Ore. resident says the experience has made her never want to get married again, even though she’s now in a happy relationship.

Her husband was a stockbroker when they first met, then he left the financial world to join the U.S. Army. After the military, he struggled to find work and was unemployed when they split. She was shocked when a judge gave her ex-husband primary custody and ordered Gilbert to pay monthly support.

The jaw dropped out of my mouth. I literally could not believe it. Had I been working a corporate job, I would have expected to pay spousal support to him, but I was a tour guide.

As a defense to paying alimony, working women going through a divorce will sometimes argue that their husbands are underemployed and could have earned much more than if he worked harder.

But the reality is, if during the course of the marriage, you and your husband agreed he’d earn less, work less, and you took on the role of the primary breadwinner, you’re going to pay that support.

The MarketWatch article is here.