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Not very long ago, it was extremely unusual for a man in Illinois to receive spousal maintenance from his ex-wife. Today, however, more men are seeking alimony from their partners following a divorce. According to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 47 percent of the 1,600 member attorneys have noticed an increase in the number of wives making support payments in the last year.
In the past, husbands were more likely to be the breadwinners in a family, leaving the wife out of the workforce or at a lower-paying job. If a couple decided to divorce, the ex-husband usually paid maintenance to help support the couple’s children, as well as the ex-wife. Experts suggest that today’s increase of women in high-paying careers is leading many men to ask for maintenance in Illinois and across the country.
The state legislature recently updated spousal maintenance laws to include a formula for determining the amount and duration of maintenance that is paid to spouses. This formula accounts for the difference in the payer’s and the payee’s gross income and provides judges with an across-the-board way to award maintenance in the state. The laws do not distinguish between genders, but instead require the spouse with the larger income make payments to the lower-earning spouse when appropriate.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only three percent of the 400,000 people who received maintenance in 2010 were men. As the number of women in the workforce continues to grow, it is likely that the percentage of men receiving alimony payments will grow as well. Women climbing the corporate ladder is accepted by society, when in the past it may have been frowned upon. Many men today choose to stay at home with the children while the wife works, leaving those men outside of the workforce and unable to earn an income in the event of a divorce.
Some ex-husbands chose not to seek spousal maintenance simply because their pride stands in the way. Speaking with an attorney often allows men to see that support can mean the difference between enjoying a comfortable lifestyle and struggling to make ends meet. Both men with children and those without may want to consider adding maintenance requirements to the divorce settlement in order to have enough income to get back on their feet following a divorce.
Men who believe they qualify for spousal maintenance can get the help that they need from an attorney who deals with maintenance laws.
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