Divorce and alimony: The 21st century is not, well, the 1960s

The historical alimony paradigm in Georgia and throughout the rest of the country has often been noted and explained. Imagine — and many younger persons and couples really can’t — a bygone time when in an overwhelming number of cases husband/dad worked all day outside the house and brought back the family check, while wife/mom stayed home tending to the chores and children, solidly ensconced in domestic duties and relying totally on her mate to keep the family financially afloat.

Few people will argue that alimony did not make sense in such a time following a divorce, given the wife’s comparative disadvantage in earning a living based on years of foregone opportunity spent inside the home.

Fast forward to the present, though, and things are markedly different in many millions of cases, with it no longer being an exceptional rarity for a judge to order that an ex-wife pay her former husband spousal maintenance.

Things are in flux, as is evidenced by the ongoing debate and legal enactments being inked in states across the country regarding alimony. One commentator refers to all the change underway in the area as “the de-gendering of alimony and divorce,” noting that many women are suddenly conflicted by the metamorphosis and not entirely happy with it.

In other words, many of those tasked to pay don’t want to do so and are voicing discontent that is eerily similar to what many males have been telling judges for decades.

Author Liza Mundy notes that discontent in her writing, but says that, “What’s sauce for the gander is, also, sauce for the goose.”

In other words, and in cases — still relatively rare — where former wives were the breadwinners while ex-husbands gave up career-related opportunities to support their spouses and keep the home front solid, many of those women will simply have to deal with the new reality of paying alimony to their former mates.

Source: Time, “The de-gendering of divorce: Wives pay ex-husbands alimony, too,” Liza Mundy, May 16, 2013

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