Spousal support for men. Courts often award spousal support to lesser earning spouses following a divorce. While nearly half a million people in this country receive this maintenance support, only 3% of recipients are male. Why is that?
Why is Spousal Support for Men so Rare?
It seems crazy that such a small percentage of men receive spousal support when roughly 40% of females are the primary breadwinners in American homes. Family law attorneys speculate on key reasons for this imbalance:
- Men consider it emasculating to require support, so they do not ask for it;
- Men sometimes want a clean break with no attachments;
- Some men wish to keep the peace to make co-parenting smoother;
- Women fight bitterly to keep their hands on their earnings;
- Judges in parts of the country have a difficult time accepting gender equality.
One San Francisco Bay area legal mind agrees, saying he encounters stereotypes regarding gender roles all the time. A recent divorcee compared palimony to hitting a girl – something no self-respecting man would ever do.
Are Gender Roles Shifting?
As much as gender roles have shifted in modern times, many men find the idea of receiving an allowance from their former spouse humiliating, and they are just not inclined to go through the battle to get it. Meanwhile, women’s attitudes toward paying their ex-husbands reinforce the idea that any man who can not support himself is a real loser. Forget the fact that stay-at-home dads gave up careers and educational opportunities while they ran the kids to soccer games and piano lessons for years. As enlightened as couples might have been when they made those parenting agreements earlier on, suddenly the old stereotypes crop up again when it comes to palimony.
So, when higher-earning men face divorce, they go into it accepting the fact that alimony may likely be a part of the package. Higher earning women are much less inclined to be willing to let go of their earnings without a fight.
Spousal Support for Men Justified?
Regardless of gender, there are cases in which spousal support is clearly justified. Both partners presumably brought some level of value to the partnership, often at great financial cost to one person. Support is the logical outcome after a divorce.
Spousal Support for Men – California Law
In California, the court has many factors to consider when awarding spousal support, but gender is not one of them. More relevant to maintenance payments are the following issues:
- Earning capacity of both parties;
- Education and marketable skills of each party;
- Earning levels of one party that were diminished due to domestic responsibilities;
- The degree to which one party supported another in obtaining education or career opportunities;
- Financial needs required to maintain the standard of living to which the couple has become accustomed;
- Length of marriage;
- Ability to pursue gainful employment in light of childcare responsibilities;
- Age of each person;
- Health of each party.