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When you divorce, will you have to pay "manimony"?

The recent release of the documentary film RBG in New York and across the nation has called new attention to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If you are one of the thousands of people who flocked to see this documentary, you noticed the huge differences between life in the 1950s when she began law school and life today for female law students.

One of the biggest differences and changes is in the area of family law and the changes with the traditional American family. In the past mothers practically automatically received custody of their children in a divorce proceeding. Today the emphasis is on joint custody being awarded to both parents and there is no longer the "tender years" doctrine where mothers had priority over fathers. Likewise, alimony is now called spousal support because courts award it to both men and women. Did you know that spousal support goes by the nickname of manimony when the woman makes these monthly support payments to the man?

Changing laws for a changing nation

Manimony represents an emerging trend nationwide. Men receive spousal support in approximately 20 percent of divorces. The Women's Movement of the 1970s started America down the path toward "equal pay for equal work." While there is still progress to be made, many women have successfully climbed the corporate ladder and make as much money, if not more, than their husbands.

You are not alone if you are such a woman. In the past five years, women are now the breadwinners in 40 percent of U.S. households. In addition, over 2 million dads stay home to take care of the kids while their wives financially support the family.

Manimony factors

If you and your husband have begun talking about divorce and you earn more than he does, you need to prepare yourself for the possibility of his asking for spousal support. The judge likely will consider the following factors when making their decision on whether or not to grant it:

  • How much disparity exists between your income and that of your husband
  • How much disparity exists between your earning potential and that of your husband
  • Whether or not your husband requires additional education or training to increase his earning potential
  • How long your marriage has lasted

Temporary, not forever

Should the court award your husband manimony, you may take comfort in the thought that these payments will not continue forever absent special circumstances. Most spousal support awards are for a reasonably limited term of years. Furthermore, should your soon-to-be ex-husband remarry before the end of the spousal support period, your payments end at that point. Finally, should a court determine that your husband requires further training or education, your payments likely will end at this time as well.

As with virtually everything else in life, financial equality can be a double-edged sword. The equality that women fought so hard to achieve has reached the point where women are required to pay manimony to their husbands. Despite the fact that this may be irksome, you should also consider that your elevated financial status has put you in a position of power. Your financial freedom is your ticket to living happily ever after.

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