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Time Magazine Reviews 'Alimony Reform' in Light of Surge in Breadwinning Women

What are the latest trends concerning alimony and spousal support on a national level?

According to a recent article posted in Time magazine, a record number of women are paying alimony to their former spouses – an arrangement once unheard of just 40 years ago. As more and more women are stepping into the role of “breadwinner,” this change in family dynamics has led to a similar change in post-marital spousal support orders – and a growing number of opponents are seeking to have alimony and spousal support laws totally upended, if not eliminated altogether.

Historically, the lower- or non-earning spouse was eligible for alimony payments from the higher-earning breadwinner for an indefinite period of time – provided the recipient did not get remarried or begin cohabitating with a romantic partner. Over time, however, the existence of the dependable alimony payment became almost a hindrance for the recipient partner in gaining valuable work experience – and payors began to complain that paying alimony for decades on end was not exactly fair.

In recent years, several anti-alimony lobbying groups have come to the forefront, demanding either strict limitations of alimony awards or an elimination of the practice (provided the lower-earning spouse would not be left destitute or impoverished). According to alimony opponents, the concept of “permanent alimony” should be erased from the law books completely. Instead, alimony orders should be for a limited period of time, perhaps to allow the recipient enough time to pursue an education or gain valuable work experience.

While opponents would still advocate for permanent alimony on behalf of disabled or elderly ex-spouses, the vast majority of the 400,000 Americans currently receiving alimony payments could – and should – find stable, gainful employment post-divorce. However, if an award of permanent alimony is already in place, it can be difficult to obtain a modification or revocation of the award unless the parties either consent to the change, or the financial situation of either party changes dramatically.

If you have questions about alimony or other aspects of the divorce process, please do not hesitate to contact Stinson Moyle, PLLC today: (512) 948-3688.