When a couple chooses to divorce, there are a number of considerations that must be sorted out. Who gets custody of the children, retains ownership of the family home and keeps prized family heirlooms are all important factors that must be decided upon. When couples are not able to come to agreeable terms on these types of issues a judge typically makes the decisions for them. When children are involved in a marriage not only must emotionally charged custody matters be decided upon, but also financial considerations such as child support and often spousal support or alimony.
Alimony has long been considered a safety net for the spouse, typically a woman, who sacrificed career and monetary gain for the betterment of the family. Today across America and in states like Michigan, many households with children are double-income households with both parents working at least part-time. In fact, according to a recent Pew poll, a record number of women in the U.S. are not only working, but are considered the breadwinner in their families.
According to the poll, a record 40 percent of working mothers out earn their spouses. While most women would likely applaud the efforts of these women, many are not in the same position. A number of the women included in the Pew poll were in fact single mothers and therefore, by default, considered the family breadwinner. The fact is that many mothers with small children continue to sacrifice careers and potential financial and personal gain to be home and raise their children.
For these women, recent proposals in many states to end lifetime alimony are particularly troubling. The rationale for many such proposals relies upon studies and polls such as the recently released Pew poll, which often do not provide a whole or accurate picture.
In Michigan when a spouse seeks alimony or spousal support a judge takes a number of factors into consideration including the length of a marriage, contributions to a marriage by both spouses and the ability of both spouses to work and pay. Individuals going through a divorce who believe they are entitled to alimony payments would be wise to discuss their situation with a divorce attorney.
Source: The New York Post, "Ending alimony is not so smart," Naomi Schaffer Riley, June 5, 2013