Historically, ongoing financial support after a divorce has been the responsibility of the husband. In recent years, however, gains made by women in the workplace, as well as changes in child custody arrangements, have transformed post-divorce financial settlements. As a result, many women in California now pay their ex-husbands alimony or child support.

A recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers showed a definite trend toward more women paying alimony or child support. These changes have been coming for a while. While a 1979 U.S. Supreme Court Court decision determined that the obligation to pay spousal support should not depend on the gender of the payer or payee, many people are still uncomfortable at the idea of a woman providing a man with support after divorce.

However, the reality is that many women earn salaries that are comparable to, if not more than, those of their husbands. In situations where a couple divorces and the wife is the primary breadwinner, men absolutely have the right to request spousal support. The same holds true in custody situations. When the father has primary custody of the children, or even shares joint custody, a mother who earns more may be required to pay child support.

It should be noted that in most cases, spouses who pay alimony are generally not expected to pay large amounts of money over a long period of time. Generally speaking, the spouse receiving support is expected to eventually become financially self-sufficient.

Individuals who are going through a divorce and are concerned about financial support issues may benefit from speaking with an experienced family law attorney. The lawyer could review the client’s case and make recommendations regarding asset division, alimony and child support.