Increasingly ladies pay upkeep (the extra ladies change into breadwinners)

Love & Money is a MarketWatch series that examines how money problems affect our relationships with other important people, friends, and family.

It’s another breakthrough for women, but probably not one they enjoy.

According to a 2018 survey of 1,650 lawyers by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, more and more women are paying child support when their marriages break up. About 54% of lawyers surveyed saw an increase in mothers paying child benefits over the past three years, and 45% saw an increase in child support payments for women, according to the AAML.

The trend could be seen as a sign of growing earnings power among women amid the persistent gender pay gap in the US, but it can be a bitter pill to swallow those who experience it firsthand, AAML President Madeline Marzano-Lesnevich said, a family law attorney in Hackensack, New Jersey.

An exaggerated example: Marzano-Lesnevich told MarketWatch that a seven-figure female executive whose husband made far less money than she was supporting her ex’s expensive online pornography habit with child support.

Marzano-Lesnevich, who represented the husband, said she had successfully argued that these “maintenance expenses” were part of his lifestyle and the court agreed when it calculated the monthly allowance. The woman was not happy about it, to say the least, said Marzano-Lesnevich.

“Many women, no matter how educated, how professional, how modern they are, are surprised to learn that they may have to pay alimony,” said Marzano-Lesnevich. “It is something that has been ingrained for generations that fathers pay alimony.”

When Marzano-Lesnevich first started practicing family law 29 years ago, perhaps one in 100 cases involved a woman paying spousal support. Today it’s about two out of ten cases. In the past, mom may have been a kindergarten teacher and dad worked on Wall Street, but it’s not uncommon these days for dad to be a middle school teacher and mom in advertising, she said.

Mothers who earn a living are on the rise

In 1960, only 11% of households with children under the age of 18 had mothers who were the breadwinners. In 2013, mothers were the primary provider in a record 40% of families, according to a 2013 report from the Pew Research Center.

About 31.4% of single fathers who have custody of their children received spouse support in 2016, and 52.3% of mothers received it, parenting blog VeryWell Family reported, citing figures from the US Census Bureau. The average amount of child support was $ 5,774 per year, or about $ 329 per month, but according to census data, only 68.5% of that money was actually received.

“I literally couldn’t believe it”

Paying child support is something Sarah Gilbert never thought she had to, but the 44-year-old mother of three is now sending her ex-husband $ 349 a month. Portland resident Ore says the experience made her never want to marry again, despite the fact that she is now in a happy relationship.

Her husband was a stockbroker when they first met, then left the financial world to join the U.S. Army. After the military, he struggled to find work and was unemployed when they separated. Gilbert worked part-time as a bike tour guide and made about $ 1,000 a month during the divorce.

She was shocked when a judge gave her ex-husband custody and ordered Gilbert to pay monthly allowance. “My jaw fell out of my mouth,” said Gilbert. “I literally couldn’t believe it. Had I had a company job I would have expected to pay him marital assistance, but I was a tour guide. “

Divorced female breadwinners sometimes argue that her husband is “underemployed” and could have made as much as she “if he had worked as hard as her,” Marzano-Lesnevich said. “But the reality is, if you have allowed him to earn less throughout the marriage and taken on the breadwinner role, you will be paying that support,” she said.

This story was updated on February 20, 2019.

Comments are closed.