The Big Switch Paying Your Ex Husband Alimony. By: Law Office of Steven B. Chroman P.C. Santa Clarita Divorce


Nearly 40 percent of working wives now out-earn their husbands and while that economic power is a good thing, overall, for women, it can have one negative outcome many don’t anticipate.

More and more women find themselves ordered by a court to pay spousal support to ex-husbands.

That these women are angry is to be expected: men don’t like paying alimony either, and writing a check every month has long been, for men, one of the prime impediments to post-marital bliss. It may or may not make it easier on these check-writing ex-wives to know that they are part of a larger movement: the de-gendering of alimony and divorce, which is a natural outgrowth of the de-gendering of roles in marriage.

Once upon a time, the point of alimony was clear: it recognized the essential deal underlying marriage back in the days of “separate spheres,” when it was a husband’s role to provide, and a wife’s role to stay home, raise the children, run the household and enable the husband to be hard-working and high-earning. The economist Gary Becker famously argued that this was how couples maximized their efficiency: dividing the labor enabled both to succeed in their respective spheres. When marriages fell apart, alimony provided legal and economic recognition of the fact that a wife had sacrificed her earning power to maximize that of her husband and enhance the welfare of their family.

Now that the separate-spheres marriage has been replaced, in many cases, by the dual-earner version, there is a move to abolish permanent alimony altogether. In some states the crusade is being supported by second wives, many of them working women, appalled that their earnings (in some cases) are going to pay the alimony of first wives who stayed at home to raise children. The animosity between those two groups is in some ways one more iteration of the mommy wars — the lingering gulf that exists between women who work outside the home and women who work within it. But it’s also a sign that the bargain of marriage has changed and splintered; there can be any number of deals now, including deals where the mom stays home; deals where both spouses work; and increasingly, deals where the woman is the primary earner. The ranks of stay-at-home dads are small, but they have doubled in the past decade.

And in dual-earner marriages, there are more and more where it’s the wife whose career takes center stage and the man’s that becomes supplementary.

As a result, it’s not only women who are wrestling with new emotions; just as women may find themselves angry, men may find themselves uneasy, as both sexes get used to the fact that some of the old patterns will persist, regardless of gender, and so will some of the old obligations.

For your complimentary consultation regarding divorce and support call the Law Office of

Steven B. Chroman at 661-255-1800.

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