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Transitioning gender roles in marriage is impacting alimony

It appears that the ever-increasing trend of professional women in the workplace is also impacting the dissolution of marriage, as well as changing the gender roles within the nuclear family. In a news commentary published in May, the subject of alimony became the topic. The alimony topic was not the only thing that was brought to attention, as it was revealed that approximately 40 percent of working wives are now the primary breadwinners in their homes. Many wives who have been court-ordered to pay alimony, however, are also rather angry.

The trend of women in the workplace has increased in the past few decades and shows no sign of slowing down. The situation is also impacting men's traditional roles in families; at times they sacrifice their own careers while their wives pursue a potentially lucrative career. This primary shift in earning potential has also created a shift in the way court systems view alimony today.

Alimony was originally introduced into the court system specifically with wives in mind, because it was reasoned that many wives had sacrificed personal carers to allow their husbands to focus on being the primary breadwinner in the traditional family. The wife was expected to focus on maintaining the home. Maintaining a household is now often viewed as a team process, especially when children are involved.

Courts have always viewed marriage as a legal contract, regardless of the emotions associated with the family. All earnings and accumulated assets after the marriage date are community property. Maintenance of a similar living standard is always considered in the dissolution. Now, however, the consideration for the recipient of alimony payments after the legal contract is dissolved is increasingly becoming de-gendered.

Source:, "The De-Gendering of Divorce: Wives Pay Ex-Husbands Alimony Too", Liza Mundy, May 16, 2013

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