New Trend in Alimony

There’s a new trend in alimony happening in family law courts across the nation.

Haven’t Worked? Judges Don’t Care

It used to be that judges seemed to care if a woman hadn’t worked for 20 years, or if her job skills were outdated as a result of getting out of the workplace. But that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. More and more judges seem to be uttering the words, “Get a job, honey.”

In divorce courts across the country, laws on alimony are being revisited. It seems a new trend is emerging: more limits to the length of support, and a standardization of the amount being awarded. And in some cases, alimony is being completely denied – even for women who haven’t worked for years.

According to New York City family attorney, Morghan Richardson, “Judges increasingly look with suspicion at post-judgment alimony requests. They see that women have just as much opportunity to earn as men do, and they should — even stay-at-home-moms who haven’t worked for decades.”

Disappearance of Economic Disadvantage Means No More Alimony

The days of women suffering from an economic disadvantage are over. With more women going to college, obtaining professional careers, and making more than men in some careers, it seems women are “winning.” The pay gap that’s seen between men and women seems to have more to do with the types of careers women choose – such as jobs in social work and education. According to Labor Department statistics, three-quarters of women work, and 40 percent of households rely on the moms to bring home the bacon. As a result, it’s become increasingly evident that women are responsible for not only themselves, but also their families, and that they are completely capable of earning a paycheck.

For Those Who Stay Home

Stay at home moms might be in for a shock if their marriages take a turn towards divorce. In the past, it might have seemed that alimony was a given, but according to Richardson,” That is no longer the case, and stay-at-home moms can be shocked to learn of their new reality.”

“I’ve been in court where a judge would outright admonish my clients for not working or looking for work, telling them that ‘care-taking for a child does not absolve you from supporting yourself.’ This is a harsh reality check for some stay-at-home moms, who sometimes have a real sense of entitlement about the decision to stay home. On one hand, that was a marital decision, but on the other hand, the marriage is over,” Richardson says. “There is little sympathy for women who quit their jobs to stay home from the courts, particularly when the magistrate is a woman who has worked her way up as a lawyer — most likely having to put her own children in daycare to earn a seat on the bench.”


As with anything, there are some exceptions. If one spouse has a severe financial disadvantage, and the marriage was long lasting, then at lest temporary alimony is granted to allow the spouse to get back on financial footing. Another exception is made for spouses that had to leave the workforce to care for a severely disabled child that will require extended care, beyond what a healthy child requires.
Source: Forbes, Stay-at-Home Mom Facing Divorce? Don’t Expect Alimony, October 27, 2014
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