Manimony, Palimony, Alimony – Oh My!

The punch lines abound:  be careful what you wish for;  what’s good for the goose is good for the gander; turnabout it fair play….

The reality is that alimony or spousal support’s intention is to assist the more financially vulnerable spouse with a transition (sometimes permanently and sometimes not) to a non-married status where the benefits of the marriage no longer exist.   American society has a greater acceptance of married and older women in the workforce, it also has a greater tolerance for wives being the sole or primary/greater breadwinner.  Interestingly, society has also shown greater acceptance of Stay-At-Home Dads (some call themselves “mannies,” a play on the word nannies) and husbands who make less money than their wives.  With these shifts in stereotypes, it should be little surprise that husbands who are in a more financially vulnerable position in a divorce would seek alimony in order to transition to a non-married status with greater financial security.

“Big-Breadwinning” wives often have the very same reaction to paying alimony to husband as husbands have had to the concept of paying wives alimony during a divorce.  However, some wives’ resistance (abhorrence) to the idea of alimony is – interestingly so – based in part on their very own sex-based stereotypes:  What judge is going to give HIM alimony?  He is going to come off looking bad if HE seeks alimony from me ?  What kind of self-respecting MAN would ask for alimony?

The non-sexist objections often are identical to what men facing alimony demands have said for years!  They turn on things such as “the other spouse” chose to stay at home (the “you made your bed” objection), make less money (the “you could do more if you wanted” objection), do nothing (the “I’m not funding laziness” objection), etc.    Similarly, these objections often are followed with “I did the work, made the sacrifices, took the risks,” unlike the other spouse, therefore, I should be able to keep the spoils, retain the current lifestyle, etc. without concern for what happens to the “other spouse” post-divorce.  Often these objections do not go very far, unless it is before a particular kind of judge (know thy judge!).   Apparently some aspects of love and money do not know a gender line.

So, the advice given to the men about alimony is often going to be identical to the advice for the women about alimony.  Know the law, balance any factors, know your judge’s track record, and…crunch the numbers on what it will take to pay the attorney to fight it vs. pay your husband and get on with it.

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