Women can indeed be required to pay alimony to their former spouses. And while traditionally women were the more common recipients of alimony payments after a divorce, spousal support is not inherently tied to gender. Instead, it is determined by the standard of living created and maintained by a couple while they were married. If a woman earns more money than her husband and he chooses to take lower-paying work so he can raise the couple's children or maintain the household, she may be required to pay him alimony if they divorce. Today, the term “spousal support” has largely replaced “alimony” because of its gendered connotation.
How are Spousal Support Payments Determined?
There are many factors that are used to determine the monetary amount and length of time one may be required to pay support to his or her former spouse. They are all related to the standard of living created during a couple's marriage and how each partner benefited from it and sacrificed his or her actual and potential earnings to achieve it. The following is a list of factors that play into spousal support decisions:
- The length of a couple's marriage;
- Each partner's financial needs;
- Both partners' current income and assets;
- Both partners’ future earning capacity;
- The amount of time it will reasonably take for the spouse requesting support payments to become self-sufficient, either through job training courses or further college education;
- Each partner's age and health; and
- The sacrifices the requesting partner made during the marriage that have impacted his or her future earning potential. An example of this is taking a less time-consuming position in favor of spending more time with one's children.
Today's Laws are Egalitarian
In the 21st century, women work outside the home. Every year, an increasing number of women earn more money than their husbands and take on breadwinner roles that were traditionally held only by men. It is only fair that men have the opportunity to benefit from spousal support payments if they divorce their higher-earning wives. Spousal support was created with the intention of giving lower-earning spouses a financial safety net after their divorce. It's not meant to punish the higher-earning spouse, but to protect his or her former partner from becoming destitute.
No two spousal support agreements are the same. Every couple has different needs. Today, permanent spousal support is becoming less common as more limited support agreements become more popular. Traditionally, support payments continued until the receiving spouse remarried or the paying spouse died. Now, the court often works out a formula using the aforementioned factors to determine an appropriate length of time for a spouse to receive support payments.
A Spousal Support Attorney Can Help
If you have questions about spousal support payments and what you might be expected to pay or can expect to receive after your divorce, contact a DuPage County spousal support attorney at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. in Wheaton, Illinois.