When many people in North Carolina think of alimony or spousal support, they may expect the traditional stereotype of payments made by an ex-husband and received by an ex-wife. This was especially true when many more women and mothers stayed at home full-time. However, a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that 45 percent of attorneys working on family law cases had recently seen an upswing in the number of women who were ordered to pay alimony during their divorce.
Spousal support is ordered or agreed upon during the divorce for a period of time in order to help the lower-earning spouse maintain their lifestyle and get back on their feet. As more women occupy high-paying, high-intensity jobs, they are more likely to be the family breadwinner, and husbands are more likely than in the past to be primary child care providers. In fact, women are the primary generators of family income in 40 percent of American families. The change has not only been seen among lawyers in terms of women paying alimony; a number of attorneys, 54 percent, said they had seen the number of women paying child support increasing.
The numbers are still small when it comes to spousal support; in 2010, only 3 percent of the 400,000 people across the country receiving alimony were men. In 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that alimony was a gender-neutral issue based on income. These payments tend to be temporary and support a transitional return to the workplace for both men and women.
Divorce legal issues can have important financial stakes for both parties, especially when there is a major mismatch in terms of income. A family law attorney may help people reaching the end of their marriage to advocate for a just settlement, including on questions of spousal support and asset division.