Is it fair?
Wow have times changed, ladies. As if securing a fair divorce settlements wasn't tricky enough already, now women are being ordered to pay alimony to their ex-husbands.
Official and current statistics don’t exist, but in my experience (and per an informal survey of attorneys and mediators in my circle), this trend is definitely happening and women paying alimony is increasingly on the rise.
I now see it in about 10 percent of divorce cases, which makes sense, because, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women are now the primary breadwinners in one-third of all marriages.
I find that while men are never happy to pay alimony, they aren’t exactly surprised when ordered to. Women, however, are shocked ... and furious. Here is a sampling of the reactions I hear to the news:“Can he DO that?” — “I make more now, but he could make more money if he tried. He’s just lazy.” — “Why should I pay him money to sit on his a**?!?”
But, what may seem like a horrible injustice is mostly just math.
If you make significantly more money than he does, and you’ve been married for more than 10 years, prepare yourself for the possibility that you'll be paying him maintenance.
However, that’s just a place to start. The courts do look at other factors when making a decision about which of you will pay the other support, including:
• The length of the marriage.
• Each spouse’s age and health status.
• Each spouse’s present and future earning capacity.
• The need of one spouse to incur education or training expenses.
• Whether caring for children inhibited one spouse’s earning capacity.
• Equitable distribution of marital property.
• The contributions that one spouse has made as a homemaker in order to help enhance the other spouse’s earning capacity.
It sounds entirely fair in theory, until you're the one living it.
So, what is not factored into the formula?
• If you were a saver and he spent all your money.
• If you already feel he’s been sponging off you for years.
• If he’s underemployed or worse, unemployed and you still do more of the cooking and cleaning around the house.
Unfortunately, the “fairness” of it all can’t be quantified nor corrected by the courts. In trying to create an equitable system, it turns out that lazy husbands can look to you for alimony or maintenance during separation proceedings. The simple reality is, sometimes women have to pay alimony, too.
What can you do to protect yourself now?
If you're unsure of how a divorce will affect you financially, help is available. A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) can work with you to project the financial implications of your divorce while your attorney focuses on the legal issues. Setting a realistic budget and understanding the tax and investment details before your divorce is finalized will allow you to start off on the right foot financially.
Sara Stanich is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) practitioner and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™) based in New York City. She specializes in helping parents understand their options and make informed decisions surrounding the financial aspects of divorce. Learn more or schedule a free consultation at PowerOverDivorce.com.
This article was originally published at www.sasforwomen.com . Reprinted with permission from the author.