Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, November 1, 2021

Alimony Is Written To Be Gender Neutral

From New York Times:

The Supreme Court ruled that alimony is gender neutral in 1979. But, to some, women having to pay spousal support to men sounds oddly.

Unequal earnings is one of the main reasons. In our society, according to a sociology professor at Harvard, is influenced by the notion that men to be the primary breadwinners and women to be the primary childcare providers for child rearing. Another reason why men receiving spousal support from women comes as a surprise is because it does not happen that often in reality. According to a 2019 study of census data by the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research group, half of United States households are headed by women, on average. However, a New York attorney said that despite an increase in stay-at-home husbands, far more women than men seek and receive spousal support.

Judges often scrutinize men more harshly during their bid for support, reflecting the bias that assumes men are, or should be, breadwinners, said a Chicago-based lawyer. “Judges may also ask for a job diary, to prove that the husband is trying to earn what he did formerly, or even a living wage,” he said.

Recent changes in family law have further disrupted the balance of alimony payments. After President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 went into effect, alimony ceased being tax deductible for the paying spouse. Instead, the recipient now receives support as tax-free income.

Read more here.

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