It’s been estimated that nearly one in three married women earn more than their husbands. With women outnumbering men in college and getting into formerly “male” professions, this number is only expected to grow. One study found that these women are 50% more likely to get divorced.
Many women who outearn their husbands by a substantial amount can face a spouse’s demand for spousal support (alimony). You may have heard of famous singers and actresses having to pay their husbands alimony, but you may not have thought it happened to “regular” people. It does. One certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) says she sees it in about 10% of the cases she works on.
While many spouses bristle at the idea of paying alimony, it can be particularly galling to women – especially moms. It’s been shown that working mothers who earn more than their husbands often, despite the fact that they may spend longer hours at work and in a more demanding job, end up doing the bulk of the housework and child-rearing.
What factors will be considered?
Whether you will have to pay alimony depends on a number of factors – just as in any other divorce where alimony’s a subject of contention. If the matter is decided by a judge, it will depend on factors like:
- How long you’ve been married
- If he’s able to support himself immediately or will need education or training
- If he gave up a career to be a stay-at-home parent
- His health and age
Unfortunately, it won’t matter if he was the one who brought about the divorce by cheating on you or if he was only too happy to spend your hard-earned money while you were the one focused on saving. It can be even more frustrating if your husband is seeking child support. However, if you’re sharing custody of your children, he may.
The best thing you can do is have experienced legal and financial guidance as you go through your divorce. This will help you make the best possible case for not paying any more support than is necessary, and not for any longer than necessary. While this might be a highly emotional matter, it’s crucial to approach it with cold, hard numbers and facts.