Many divorcing men in Illinois may leave available alimony unclaimed

Although the number of female breadwinners in the U.S. has increased in recent years, the proportion of male alimony recipients remains low.

Today, it's not uncommon for women to earn more than their husbands. According to Forbes, women are now the primary breadwinners in four out of ten U.S. households. This reversal of traditional marital roles has also caused a shift in gender roles during divorce. Now, a growing number of men in Rockford may be eligible to receive spousal support from their ex-wives. However, reports indicate that the number of men who actually collect alimony remains relatively small.

Skewed alimony awards

Over the last several years, it has become more common for men to seek and secure alimony after divorce. According to Reuters, 47 percent of the divorce attorneys who responded to an American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey in 2012 reported seeing more women paying alimony. Still, the overall proportion of male alimony recipients remains small.

According to Forbes, the 2010 U.S. Census found that just 3 percent of alimony recipients in the U.S. were men. The reported number of households with female breadwinners indicates that significantly more men may be eligible for spousal support. This discrepancy suggests that many of these men are declining to seek alimony or having their requests denied.

Explaining alimony trends

There are several potential explanations for either outcome. Although gender does not affect alimony awards, unconscious biases may harm a husband's chances of receiving alimony. Forbes cites the case of one former tire store worker who was unemployed and requested alimony from his wife, who was a vice president at a large technology company. Despite the sizable gap in income and earning capacity, a family law judge declined to award the man alimony.

In many other cases, lingering beliefs in traditional gender roles may make men hesitant to request alimony. For the same reasons, some women may be more reluctant to pay it or more inclined to dispute an ex-husband's request. Additionally, other personal factors, such as financial outlook, may lead men to forgo alimony.

Unfortunately, men who choose not to seek alimony at the time of a divorce cannot change their minds later. This makes it important for divorcing spouses to think critically about their finances and options before making a decision.

Availability of alimony

Some men may fail to seek alimony because they think their chances of receiving it are relatively low. However, this depends largely on each marriage. A family law judge may consider various factors when determining whether to award alimony, including:

  • The income, assets and earning capacity of both spouses
  • The financial needs of each spouse
  • The standard of living that each spouse enjoyed during the marriage
  • Any other factors that the court deems relevant

Other aspects of the divorce settlement, such as property division, may also affect the final award. Under these criteria, men might be able to receive alimony if they have limited financial resources and face a significant change in standard of living. However, the way that both spouses present their cases often makes a substantial difference.

Given all of these considerations, divorcing men who may be entitled to alimony should think about discussing the issue with a divorce attorney. An attorney may be able to provide advice on a spouse's rights and, if necessary, assist a spouse in pursuing alimony.

Keywords: divorce, alimony, spousal, support, maintenance