We often hear of women paying alimony to their ex-husbands only when they are extremely wealthy. For example, earlier this year it was reported that “Modern Family” star Julie Bowen’s estranged husband was seeking support from the actress, who earns somewhere around $500,000 per episode of the hit comedy.

However, almost half of family law attorneys responding to a recent survey reported that they’re seeing more cases where women are asked to pay alimony. Over half are seeing an increase in child support requests of female clients.

This seems reasonable, considering that more women are earning more than their husbands. In some cases, they’re the sole or main breadwinner while their husbands are stay-at-home dads.

While this seems like a relatively new phenomenon, it can be traced back to a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1979 that ruled that alimony decisions couldn’t be based on gender.

Many spouses of both genders balk at the idea of paying spousal support — at least the amount that their soon-to-be-ex seeks. However, attorneys say that women are often surprised and resistant to their husbands’ requests for alimony. The head of the Center for Mediation & Training says, “As much as men aren’t crazy about giving women alimony, we’ve noticed that women are adamant about it. It just goes against the way a very young female is raised.”

One divorce coach notes that the resistance by some women to paying an ex-husband alimony may stem from the true power dynamic in the marriage. She notes that she has clients who earn more than their husbands, but are still victims of physical, verbal and/or emotional abuse. She says, “The fact that the woman has the money does not necessarily mean that she has the power . . .”

Of course, whenever a spouse seeks alimony — regardless of gender — the matter goes before a judge. That judge then considers whether the person seeking support is able to be self-supporting. Permanent alimony is much less common than it used to be. For spouses to be awarded alimony, they generally must show that they aren’t able to support themselves, at least until they’ve upgraded their skills or education.

Whichever side of the alimony equation you’re on, an experienced Rhode Island family law attorney can help you wind up with a spousal support agreement that is fair to you.

Source: Moneyish, “More women are now paying alimony and child support,” Meera Jagannathan, May 17, 2018