Divorce courts mirror society as more women pay alimony

NEW YORK Thu May 10, 2012 4:54pm EDT

A bouquet is seen in the snow as a bride poses for a photograph after a group wedding ceremony in Harbin, China, January 6, 2010. REUTERS/Aly Song

A bouquet is seen in the snow as a bride poses for a photograph after a group wedding ceremony in Harbin, China, January 6, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Aly Song

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NEW YORK (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.

As women climb higher up the career ladder and outpace their exes in salary, when love goes wrong and marriages break up they are being compelled to contribute to the livelihood of their former spouses.

And some are not happy about it.

More than half, 56 percent, of divorce lawyers across the United States have seen an increase in mothers paying child support in the last three years and 47 percent have noted a hike in the number of women paying alimony, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

"It shows that women have really moved up financially and that in many instances they are the major bread winners in a lot of families," said Alton Abramowitz, the president-elect of the academy.

"The glass ceiling has been pierced and more and more women have taken over the financial responsibilities and have been saddled with them as well. It is a fact of the way our society has evolved over the last number of years."

Abramowitz, who has been practicing law for 39 years, described the findings of the survey and the changed role of women in the workforce as a sea change.

In his graduating law school class of 135, there were just six women. Data from the Digest of Education Statistics show that the number of men and women receiving medical degrees in the U.S. is almost equal, unlike 1980 when only about a third of medical degrees were awarded to women.

The number of women getting law degrees has nearly doubled.

"You are seeing the results of that, the impact, now in terms of the professions," Abramowitz said.

Although women have made strides professionally, the divorce rate in the United States has remained fairly constant. About half of marriages in the United States end in divorce. The rate has hovered between 46 and 53 percent for decades, he added.

Just as many men grumbled about paying alimony to their former wives, women are not pleased with the turnaround.

"We see women who are every bit as angry as their male counterparts, maybe more so, when they are confronted with the concept of paying spousal support to a man," said Abramowitz.

The gender switch in alimony payments is just one of many changes he has seen during his four decades as a lawyer.

"When I started practicing in 1973 there was no equitable distribution of property," he said.

The 1,600 members of the Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers handle separations, prenuptial agreements, custody battles, property evaluation and division, the rights of unmarried couples, as well as divorce and child support.

(Editing by Christine Kearney)

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Comments (3)
JohnnyD4233 wrote:
I fully support equal rights, provided it spans both the positive and negative aspects.

May 11, 2012 7:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
McBob08 wrote:
It’s a bout bloody time. Time for the women to stop thinking that they can be treated both as equals, and as “special” as they have been in the past. Women have been outpacing their ex-husbands long before this time, and it’s taken this long for judges to catch up with the time and realize that siding with the woman and screwing the husband every time isn’t going to work anymore.

Just one step of many that need to be taken to alleviate the audacious gynocentric bias of Western Society and stop the ongoing misandry.

May 12, 2012 7:51am EDT  --  Report as abuse
moorish666 wrote:
i completely agree with this, and it should have been done years ago. though reading something like this angers me due to the fact they feel its shocking in a way or thats how it seems through my eyes. this, along with pay being almost the same for men and women, is the start of something good. women dont need to be treated specially, just fairly. next we just need for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and people of different races to stop having abuse thrown at them and society will be on its way towards being positive. this is coming from a bisexual woman, i do feel that the way people are treated can be based on sex, sexual orientation and race instead of who they really are and i hate that.

May 14, 2012 6:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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