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Spousal support: let me count the ways… it can be paid that is

On Behalf of | Jan 30, 2014 | Spousal Support

At bridal showers, there is a piece of advice that is often given to the bride-to-be. That piece of advice is that marriage is about compromise. Each family is unique, different from another, and each family makes these compromises in their own way. For some couples, this compromise means one spouse might put their career second to the other spouse’s — or give it up entirely.

Spousal support or alimony, as it was once referred to in Columbus, helps to bridge the financial gap that would exist post-divorce as a result of some of these compromises. As unique as each family is, so are the circumstances that spousal support is based on. It is a decision that must be made on a case-by-case basis, which is why the attentive assistance of an attorney is so important.

First, it is important to note that spousal support isn’t requested or granted in every case. When it is requested, the first question is often “who is going to pay?”

The term alimony can carry with it the stereotype that it is only awarded to women. In 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Orr vs. Orr that these awards cannot be based on a gender bias. In 2010, only 3 percent of spousal support orders were granted for the benefit of men. Does that mean that the 1979 ruling isn’t being followed?

Traditionally, it has been the male spouse that has a career or earns more than the other spouse. It can explain the low percentage of alimony awards paid to a male spouse since the ruling. However, that trend seems to be shifting. More women have not only entered the workforce, but also earn more than their male spouses. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that 47 percent of their surveyed members reported seeing an increase in the number of women paying alimony.

Determining the payer and the payee isn’t the only part of the spousal support discussion. There is also a choice to be made over how the money will be paid. Monthly payments may be common, but a spouse can opt for a lump sum option as well — something that is reportedly more common amongst women. As for those ongoing payments, how long will they last?

Source: Financial Post, “More men getting alimony from their ex-wives,” Geoff Williams, Jan. 4, 2014