Alimony Payments Reflecting Changes in Society

Ever since the 1848 Seneca Falls convention marking the beginning of an organized Women's Rights movement in the U.S., women have been struggling to have equal opportunities in education, the workforce and other areas of society. Women have made great strides in balancing power between men and women, though. One unexpected consequence of women's success is that more women are paying alimony to former spouses now than ever before.

More Women Paying Alimony

The number of women paying alimony is on the rise. According to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 56 percent of divorce attorneys responding to the survey have seen the number of mothers paying child support to fathers go up and 47 percent of lawyers have seen the number of women paying alimony to former husbands increase.

Experts attribute the changes to the success women are having in their careers. More women are the primary income-earners in families. Additionally, more women are entering into well-paying careers than in the past. In 1980, about one-third of the total medical degrees awarded went to women. Currently, the number of medical degrees is split almost equally between men and women. Similarly, the number of women in law school has increased from 3.7 percent in 1963 to 44 percent in 2007.

Massachusetts Alimony Factors

No matter whether it is a husband or wife seeking alimony, Massachusetts courts will use the same factors when determining alimony awards, including:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The parties' ages
  • The parties' health
  • The income, employment and possibility for employment of the parties
  • Economic and non-economic contributions to the marriage
  • The marital standard of living
  • Lost economic opportunities due to the marriage
  • Any other factors the court deems relevant

Massachusetts reformed its alimony laws in 2011. Beginning March 2012, the law puts certain limitations on the duration and amount of alimony awards based on the length of the marriage and the actions of the parties after the divorce.

Consult an Attorney

Despite the fact that there are now limits on alimony awards, judges still have a great deal of discretion in making such awards. Those who are going through divorce should seek the advice of an experienced divorce attorney who can help ensure that alimony orders and property settlements are equitable.