An Increasing Number of Women Paying Child Support and Alimony / Maintenance

May 21, 2012
Louis Sternberg

The “Gender Gap” may be diminishing.  The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is reporting that many attorneys say that they have seen an increase in the number of women paying child support and alimony (or maintenance as it is known in New York).

There are a number of possible explanations for this change.  It is believed that, as a result of changing “gender roles” in the family, an increasing number of  fathers have custody of their children and therefore receive child support from the mothers.  Another likely cause is the fact that there has been a tremendous increase in the number of families in which the wife earns more money than the husband, which then, after a divorce, results in the former wife paying alimony (or maintenance) to the former husband.

Such a shift is evidence of changes in modern society and in fact, just a few decades ago, such a shift would not have been legally possible in some states.  In 1979, the Supreme Court decided the case of Orr v. Orr, in which an Alabama law enabled women to receive alimony from their former husbands but prevented husbands from receiving alimony from their former wives.   The Supreme Court declared that the law was unconstitutional because it violated the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause.