Global Family Law Services

Women Bringing Home the Bacon May Be Ordered to Share It With Their Ex

| Jul 10, 2013 | Spousal Support

Recently the Pew Research Center released a study that determined that in 40% of American households woman were the primary breadwinner (Associated Press, 5/29/13.) Had the people at Pew asked an experienced family law attorney, they would not have needed to conduct the study in the first place. The study confirmed what those of us “in the know” already know; working women are earning an increasingly larger share of their families’ income. The Pew study also confirmed something else that we knew: despite the rise in relative income compared to men, attitudes have not changed nearly as much as the increases in women’s income earning capacity. Yet, the impact of a woman’s income earning power on divorce, child custody, and support issues is often profound.

As far as attitudes are concerned, it seems to us that woman still disproportionately expect to receive support, both spousal and child, more than they should. That is true both in terms of the amount of support as well as its duration. At the same time, women are astounded when they are asked to pay support to their husbands and/or to the fathers of their children. With regard to men, sometimes they refuse support when they should not. Reasons for this vary, but such refusal is often borne of ego or social appearance. And when men do demand support, many times it is used as a negotiating tactic more than an actual financial expectation.

The reality is that generally speaking women want support too much and refuse to pay it too often. Likewise, men refuse to accept support too much or cannot stomach the thought of paying it to an ex-wife or mother they deem unworthy of receiving it. As we have discussed elsewhere, support payments of all kinds should be looked at as a means to create fair results. Put another way, support payments are often just another tool in a family law attorney’s “tool box.” Tax consequences and other equitable factors could make support payments an important part of creating a good settlement. There is not one “right” way to settle every case.

So what should you take away from this Pew study and the reality we describe? As the Associated Press reported, despite the fact that “workplaces and schools still follow a male-breadwinner model… the breadwinner-homemaker marriage will never again be the norm….” In light of that reality consumers of family law services need to be educated in order to get the customized results that will best serve themselves and their children. Part of that means curbing the desire to micromanage your case. Instead, your interests are best served by finding a lawyer that you trust who understands how to create good deals and get good results. And, it is important as an educated consumer of family law services to recognize that sometimes the support you demand could represent the most expensive dollars you ever get. Recognize, also, that the flip side could also be true: the support dollars that you pay could represent the cheapest dollars you will ever have to pay.