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Spousal MaintenanceWives Paying Spousal Maintenance on the Rise

March 14, 2007

One product of women earning as much as or even more than men is that more wives are paying alimony (maintenance in New York) to their ex-husbands. Forbes Magazine reports that another by-product is that as men set their sights on women’s earnings, women have become more protective of those dollars.

In fact, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 44% of attorneys included in a recent survey said they’ve seen an increase in women asking for prenuptial agreements over the last five years, where in previous decades, prenuptial agreements were almost always sought by men.

A lot of women are indignant now that the shoe is increasingly on the other foot, says Carol Ann Wilson, a certified financial divorce practitioner in Boulder, Colo. “There’s this sense of, ‘What’s yours is ours, but what’s mine is mine,'” Wilson says. “My first response to that is, ‘All these years we have been looking for equality; well, this is what it looks like.’ I think women get angrier about having to pay than men do.

Just as some women object to men’s request for spousal support, some men are particularly uncomfortable seeking it. Either they find it emasculating to ask, or they find the idea of receiving an allowance from their ex-wives humiliating, according to divorce attorneys.

As a practical reality, I have not seen  many cases where the husband seeks spousal support, though there really should not be a “legal” bar to their being granted support.  After all, the law is supposed to applied in a gender neutral manner.

However, because of systematic basis, the law has not always been applied in a gender neutral manner.  Indeed, until recently, how many men won custody of their children?  It was the conventional wisdom that there really  had to be something  wrong with a mother for her to have lost a custody fight. .

Moreover, there may be a social stigma to a man seeking support from his wife.  Indeed, Forbes confirms that “Some men avoid the embarrassment by seeking a bigger bite of the marital assets instead of asking for alimony. Not only do lump-sum payments save them the humiliation of accepting monthly support, but they also reduce the ex-husband’s taxes, since spousal support payments are taxed, while assets are not.”

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