In a prior blog post, we noted one New Jersey legislator's attempt to reform our state's alimony laws. Such a reform would mark a change in how alimony is traditionally awarded and would join similar legislation either passed or considered by other states. Other changes to alimony are already afoot, however, but they have more to do with long-developing demographic shifts than with proposed bills in House and Senate chambers of state legislatures.
According to a nationwide poll of attorneys who handle divorce cases, courts are now requiring more women to pay child support and alimony to their ex-husbands. This reflects the increasing prominence and equality in the workplace that women have achieved over the course of time. As an example, statistics show that women constitute approximately 50 percent of all medical degree recipients today. Three decades ago, however, that figure was just 33 percent.
Lawyers report that a number of divorced women express displeasure at having to pay alimony to their ex-husbands, however. This finds a parallel in men, who also state a dislike of court-mandated spousal support.
Many couples may want to achieve an emotional clean break in a divorce, but some couples may find alimony difficult because it is a lingering financial tie to a former spouse. It is important to note that while alimony fulfills important objectives and recognizes spouses' former interdependence, New Jersey law does not mandate it in every case. Whether a court awards alimony depends on the facts and circumstances of each divorce. And as recent divorce cases reveal, many women are now the primary earners of income in the household.
Source: Reuters, "Divorce courts mirror society as more women pay alimony," Patricia Reaney, May 10, 2012.