What do you know about alimony for men? Is alimony “gender neutral” just like custody should be? If you’re a stay at home dad, should you expect to be given the same consideration as a woman in divorce court?
Here we will give you the latest on alimony for men, what the trends are looking like, and the states most likely to be father-friendly when it comes to spousal support.
History Did Not Contemplate Alimony for Men
This isn’t the article to dive deep into the origins, past, present, and future of alimony. We’ve already done that at Guyvorce. One takeaway from that series is that the origin of alimony is all based on money paid from a man to a woman. The ancient origins of spousal support did not include alimony for men.
The origin, though, is well rooted in the past. But we as a society are past that. We’ve seen Susan B. Anthony fight for suffrage, we’ve seen bra’s burned, and the glass ceiling shattered many times in corporate America. So any argument tying alimony to its roots as a “just for women” thing is clearly outdated and irrelevant.
More Dads Are Primary Caregivers Then Ever Before
There are not real-time statistics available on the current percentage of alimony awards going to men, but we can extrapolate from stats that are a few years old to get a good idea. For example, according to the 2010 census records, only 3% of alimony awards went to men. But the numbers are growing.
We also know that in 2013, almost half of households with children (40%) were financially supported by female breadwinners. Of that group, 25% that are single mothers. That leaves 15% of married women providing or leading the income supply at home in 2013. More recent federal wage studies indicate that in married couples where both spouses work, 28% are households where the woman brings home the bigger paycheck.
Now that more women are paying huge chunks of their income in “manimony” they, too, are jumping on the alimony-reform bandwagon.
As of 2012, more than 2 million men were stay at home dads, almost double the 1989 measurement. These fathers were became the primary caregiver of their kids due to a variety of factors, including illness, disability, the inability to find a good paying job, and yes, because they want to care for their home and children.
Alimony and Child Custody Report Card for the States
Just as current statistics on alimony are hard to come by, state level alimony information is likewise difficult to nail down. For those states that do regularly consider alimony awards, though, the data on gender application are limited.
Again, some extrapolations can be made. For the purpose of this article, we are assuming that states that are father-friendly when it comes to child custody are more likely to be amenable to alimony for men who are the stay-at-home parent.
There is one category of states that stand out from the others in their award record of alimony and these are states that don’t usually award alimony at all. Texas, as an example, has a sizable child support calculation, but also rarely awards spousal support or alimony. North Carolina also is a good example in their exclusion of alimony in the event of adultery.
Alimony decisions are supposed to be independent of child custody decisions. Yes, child support payment amounts should take into account the dollars actually exchanging hands based on alimony, but whether to award either type of payment is independent.
Decades ago, when the tender years doctrine dominated custody decisions, the mother in nearly all cases was awarded custody of the children. That standard, thankfully, has been replaced with one that looks into the best interest of the children. At the same time, scientific studies have been performed over the decades’ worth of children that have grown up in divorced situations. These studies almost universally point to the fact that children that grow up in shared custody environments are better off than those with less time spent with one of the parents.
Even with these studies and shift in governing doctrine, though, not all states are doing well in their interpretation of best interest and the associated award of shared custody. The states that do well in shared custody awards appear to get it, and will likely do well at understanding how alimony should be awarded when the dad is the caretaking parent.
The National Parents Organization tracks effectively how well states are doing in making the right decisions for children during divorce through the states’ custody decisions. In their annual report, they cite six states as the best in keeping gender out of divorce decisions for custody, and are likely to be father-friendly for alimony, as well.
These top states are:
- South Dakota
Proposed Uniform Marriage and Divorce Statutes
Family law is determined by each individual state. Each state is responsible for their individual divorce standards and application of alimony, although there has been a proposed set of statutes pending since 1970 that would provide uniformity of state laws pertaining to marriage. Drafted by the Uniform Law Commission, the proposed Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act provide a template that may be adopted by any state for resolution of domestic disputes – including alimony and child custody – with consideration given to the following areas:
- Requesting spouse’s financial condition
- Time required for job training or education
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Requesting spouse’s age, physical condition, and emotional state
- Length of the marriage
- Ability of the other spouse to pay
Nowhere in the law is there a reference to gender. Therefore any award, or failure of award, that comes from these guidelines should be equally applied to both spouses.
Alimony for Men Advice
Even if your state is at the bottom of the list when it comes to alimony and child support, your battle is not lost. The number of women in the U.S. who are paying alimony to men is steadily growing. Alimony is designed to provide that bridge for one spouse to keep the households at a near-equal standard of living while the receiving spouse gets back into the workforce and financially independent. The need for the help is often driven by the amount of time the receiving spouse was out of the workforce, or untrained, based on joint decisions for the marital home.
This means that if you are the man in the marriage and are the one who stayed home to raise the kids for years and have been out of the workforce for a good period of time, you have a legitimate claim for alimony.
Regardless of your home state, if a divorce is likely, get proper legal counsel as soon as possible. Be sure to tell your attorney if you are the primary caregiver of the home and children, if your wife is the primary or only wage-earner, and if you gave up or deferred employment or educational opportunities to support your wife’s career goals. Alimony for men is the new normal in divorce court. Get what you, and your kids deserve.
Do you have first-hand experience with alimony? Tell us about it in the comments below.
There are millions of stay-at-home dads.
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