Alimony: There’s a Brave New World Emerging

Show me a former spouse writing an alimony check, and I’ll show you a griping former spouse. Some things never change.

But other things do.

For example, in our brave new world, sometimes the wife earns more than the husband. In fact, in approximately one-third of marriages these days. And, sometimes, she earns a lot more.

Perhaps that is what drives the couple to divorce. Perhaps not.

Either way, more and more frequently these days, the former spouse writing the alimony check is the ex-wife, not the ex-husband. And when she is the one, she’s no happier about having to do it than the typical ex-husband is. Maybe less so.

But, the scenario of the ex-wife writing an alimony check is not coming to fruition in all cases where it could, that is, where the law would support it.

Part of the reason is that many ex-husbands simply won’t hear of collecting alimony from their ex-wives. It simply offends their sensibilities.

But part of the reason is a larger, gender-neutral settlement trend away from what Florida calls permanent, periodic alimony.

Why? Because neither party wants the extended, additional ties to each other. (Or the deterrents to forming permanent attachments to new significant others.)

The Solution: agreements to dispense with traditional alimony as such, in favor of adjusting property division to deliver a one-time windfall to the spouse who would have received alimony. This may well be characterized legally as “lump sum alimony”, but lay people tend not to think of it as alimony at all.

Read more in this Wall Street Journal article: Men Receiving Alimony Want A Little Respect and this Looking Fit magazine article: Female Top Earners Cite Increased Strain, Marital Troubles.