The Wall Street Journal reported last week on an emerging brand of divorce lawyers those who specifically target to soon-to-be ex-husbands. These experts are experienced and devoted to catering to men who fear that they will not get what they deserve in their battle over custody, property, and, of course, the ever-buzz worthy topic of alimony.
Historically, women often receive physical custody over children which leads to them getting the property and lots of money for their care taking. However times are changing. In this day and age, it is not unusual for couples to be comprised of a stay-at-home Dad and a bread-winner wife. Despite seeing a change in trends, the law, per usual, lags slowly behind.
Massachusetts Leads with the Change in Alimony Law
The hot topic is the fairness of alimony for all parties involved. How long does the lesser-earning spouse depend on the financial support of the higher-earning spouse once the relationship has legally ended? Most people would agree that some period of alimony is fair, especially for a spouse who has sacrificed career to care for family - but is the line drawn at five years? 10 years? 30 years? And what about when one person retires? States are attempting to tackle these tough questions with revision in alimony laws.
The NYTimes notes:
Florida joins a grass-roots movement in a growing number of states that seeks to rewrite alimony laws by curbing lifelong alimony and alleviating the financial distress that some payers still mostly men say they face.
This legislation makes lifelong alimony less easy to grant and a bit easier on the payer. More than ever, women are more present (or at least are more prepared to be present) in the workplace. Although each case differs in its unique circumstances, lawyers who are fighting for men's rights may see their uphill battle slowing but surely evening out. Last year, Massachusetts started changing its laws, with New Jersey and then Florida following suit.
Gender Equality Comes to Divorce
Attitudes have shifted and now the law is slowly beginning to shift to a more neutral stance toward gender when dealing with divorce. The Wall Street Journal quotes President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Ken Altshuler's reflection:
"I always see judges wincing when they order women to pay alimony," said Mr. Altshuler. "But it's a trend...Now we have so many families where both parents are working, the whole 'man takes care of the women' syndrome has diminished."
Women should indeed have rights in terms of what they get out of divorce; but each partner should keep in mind that the more they are reasonable with each other and are willing to compromise, the lower the cost of divorce will be for them both.